For almost a decade the
USGCRP has invested in research on the human dimensions of global change
because it is essential to the program’s ability to realize its central
goals of understanding the planet and the implications of social and environmental
change. This research has helped explain how humans drive important interventions
in the Earth system, are affected by the interactions between natural and
social processes, and are part of the solution. The USGCRP looks to the
Human Dimensions Program to study response options in the face of change
— what can we anticipate, how should we handle uncertainty, how might we
challenge of the next decade is to more meaningfully embed Human Dimensions
research questions within the other elements of the USGCRP. Humans are
a part of the climate system, the drivers of land cover change, increasingly
significant contributors to the chemical composition of the atmosphere,
and utterly dependent upon the global water cycle. But a separate focus
on Human Dimensions is also required, both to capture the socially driven
aspects of environmental change and to shape our understanding of the context
within which we experience the impacts of natural system fluctuations.
Determining the human sensitivities to the consequences
of global environmental change for key life support systems (such as
water, health, energy, natural ecosystems, and agriculture), including
the economic and social dynamics of these systems.
Determining a scientific foundation for analyzing the
potential human responses to global change, their effectiveness and
cost, and the range of response options.
Understanding the underlying social processes or driving
forces behind the human relationship to the global environment, such
as human attitudes and behavior, population dynamics, institutions, and
economic and technological transformations.
Understanding the major human causes of change in the
global environment, and how they vary over time, across space, and
between economic sectors and social groups.
Figure 5. Land Cover Change in the Tensas River Basin
(See Appendix E for additional information)
for FY 2000:
The USGCRP will demonstrate
the importance of assessments research to the analysis of options for coping
with the risks posed by climate variability and change. Regional-scale
investigations will serve as a means for studying global to local influences
in an integrated framework, understanding human and ecosystem vulnerability,
developing innovative methods for assessing regional consequences, and
integrating global change research.
The USGCRP will develop
integrated assessment models that include representation of greenhouse
gases other than CO2, carbon dioxide sinks, and carbon leakage (moving
carbon emissions from countries with stringent controls to countries with
little or no control).
The USGCRP will provide
improved information and analysis supporting efforts to foresee disaster
and identify opportunities associated with climate through joint sponsorship
of new research in Human Vulnerability to Climate Risk and Environmental
The USGCRP will issue
a joint announcement in Human Activity and Changes in Land Use, to support
research on the social, economic, and cultural processes associated with
land-use change and on how land-use changes affect ecosystems and biogeochemical
cycles, including the modeling of sinks.
The USGCRP will improve
our capability to model the relationship of heat-related mortality and
illnesses due to anticipated increases in the intensity and duration of