Members of Congress:

I am pleased to forward to you a copy of Our Changing Planet: The FY1997 U.S. Global Change Research Program. This annual report was prepared under the auspices of the President's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is crucial to understanding, predicting, and assessing global environmental changes and their consequences for human health, food production, ecological systems, and sustainable economic development. The USGCRP has advanced our understanding of key global environmental science issues, including: seasonal to interannual climate variability; climate change over decades to centuries; changes in ozone, UV radiation, and atmospheric chemistry; and changes in land cover and in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. As the National Academy of Sciences noted in its recent review of the program: "A great deal of extremely high-quality science that is recognized worldwide for its excellence has resulted from the USGCRP."

The past year has brought significant new findings about the causes and consequences of global change. New results include demonstration of strong El Niño impacts on crop yields and rangeland conditions in Utah and Idaho, and compelling new evidence of links between climate change, weather, and negative human health effects, including increases in heat-related mortality and in exposure to both vector and non-vector-borne diseases. Perhaps most important is the widespread agreement reached this year among leading researchers that the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.

The USGCRP, a coordinated interagency effort established by President Reagan and elevated to a Presidential Initiative by President Bush, was codified by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990. President Clinton is continuing this strong bipartisan tradition of support. The FY1997 Budget Request demonstrates the Administration's ongoing commitment to the program. The President and the Vice President believe that global change research is critical to our future as we head into the 21st century.

I commend Dr. Robert Corell of the National Science Foundation, Chair of the NSTC Subcommittee on Global Change Research, the members of the Subcommittee, and all of the participants in government, academia, and industry for their efforts in making this program a success.

John H. Gibbons
Director

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