Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 34
5 MISSION TO PLANET EARTH REVISITED* Thomas F. Malone and Robert Corell Environmental scientists are blazing new, bold, and imaginative trails to discover the interactions that bind the elements of land, water, air, biota, and energy into planet Earth. Understanding these interactions is imperative if future generations are to inherit a habitable planet, because human activity has expanded and developed to the point where anthropogenic environmental changes are jeopardizing continued human existence. Science stands at the threshold of an unprecedented opportunity to study and learn the far-reaching impli- cations of both anthropogenic and natural environmental changes. A comprehensive study of the global environment is within reach. Such a study would give humanity the knowledge base necessary to intervene on its own behalf--to reverse the trends of global environ- mental degradation and to bequeath to future generations a benign Earth. The complex and vital nature of this endeavor demands careful delibera- tion. A rationale for such a study, titled "Mission to Planet Earth," was set forth in Environment two years ago.1 It rested on five central considerations: o A revolution under way in the sciences is leading to the treatment of the physical, biological, chemical, and geographical parts of the global system as an integrated and responsive whole. o Scientific understanding of each part and the interactions among the parts is approaching a stage at which describing the controlling physical, chemical, and biological processes in quantitative form (i.e., with mathematical models) will be possible. O Scientists are developing with unprecedented speed the necessary technological tools (in situ and space-based measurements, computers, and communications) for a holistic analysis of Earth's system. These tools could enhance the ability of science to predict changes in the environment. *This paper, which was available at the forum, is reprinted, with permission of the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation, from Environment 31~3~:6-11 31-35 (April 1989~. Published by Heldref Publications, 4000 Albemarle St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016. Copyright (c) 1989. 34
OCR for page 35
as 0 With exponential growth in population, agriculture, and industry, human activity is becoming a powerful factor, or forcing function, for global change. 0 The capacity of the global life-support system to sustain a technologically advanced and exponentially expanding civilization is likely to collapse within the foreseeable future. The rationale for a ''Mission to Planet Earth" has been significantly transformed during the past two years. Opportunities to respond to this scientific and technological revolution are still open and have, in fact, expanded on their own merits. The compelling need now, however, is to increase the knowledge base underlying major policy decisions on societal and national behaviors that affect global well-being. A new era, characterized by a grand convergence of natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, public policy, and international relations, is emerging. Many national and international research organizations have incor- porated the "Mission to Planet Earth" rationale into their language and programs. At a meeting in Berne, Switzerland, in September 1986, the General Assembly of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) decided to establish the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme: A Study of Global Change (IGBP). Since that meeting, organization and planning have proceeded with remarkable speed. IGBP represents a herculean effort by scientists worldwide to give humanity the knowledge base to fashion policies that will reverse the global environmental decline. GLOBAL CHANGE IN THE LIMELIGHT What has pulled scientists out of their separate laboratories to call for and organize this effort? Several recent developments have pushed global change and environmental policy issues on center stage. One such development is the frequent scientific prediction of a rise in global temperature of several degrees centigrade as a result of increased emissions to the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, which trap long-wave radiation emanating from Earth's surface. The possibility that human activity, especially fossil fuel use, could exacerbate the atmosphere's greenhouse effect was recognized as long as a century ago. Not until a 1985 meeting of Earth scientists in Villach, Austria, however, did the scientific community become sufficiently impressed with all the evidence for the probable magnitude of the greenhouse effect to call for political action. (For a discussion of the conclusions drawn at the conference in Villach, see Jill Jager's "Climate Change: Floating New Evidence in the CO2 Debate" in the September 1986 issue of Environment.) In the summer of 1988, James Hansen, a scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), intensified the policy debate while testifying before the U.S. Congress by implying that the first sign of greenhouse warming had already been detected in the climate records.2 Another development that has pushed global change into the limelight is the sharp seasonal decrease of the stratospheric ozone layer over the
OCR for page 36
36 Antarctic and signs of incipient decline over the Arctic. The ozone layer screens out the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. The warning by scientists in 1974 that chlorofluorocarbons (CFOs) drifting up into the stratosphere constitute a threat to the ozone layer turned out to be remarkably prescient. By 1987, the evidence for ozone depletion was so persuasive that international agreement was quickly reached on the Montreal Protocol to limit the production of CFCs. Already this year, a number of countries have announced plans to accelerate the protocol's implementation by banning certain CFCs entirely by the year 2000. A third development is the annual loss of more than 10 million hectares of forest cover in the tropics. In industrialized countries, millions of hectares of forest are destroyed each year by fire, and many more millions of hectares are jeopardized as a result of acid deposition-. Worldwide, the rate of forest loss is about 1 acre (or 0.4 hectares) per second. At the same time, more than 5 million hectares of new desert are formed each year as a consequence of land mismanagement in semi-arid regions. Finally, the rate of extinction of plant and animal species has reached alarming and probably irreversible levels. This loss is robbing future generations of valuable resources for food, industry, and medi- cine. All of these developments have helped to heighten the public's awareness of global change. GROWING INTEREST Scientists have repeatedly verified the manifestations of global change.3 Plans to cope with these disastrous changes are being formu- lated worldwide.4 Thus, research like that proposed in "Mission to Planet Earth" has been elevated to new importance by a greater percep- tion on the part of the public and policymakers that human activity is rapidly approaching a level at which human-induced change of the global environment will be on a scale equivalent to change produced by natural forces. Some indications that there will be definite winners and losers in the global change game have sparked additional enthusiasm for world- wide conservation and research. More fuel for this fire has been the perception that the human carrying capacity of Earth may soon be stressed to a point where catastrophic consequences should be expected in regions currently characterized by high population density and growth. The very threat of such consequences has raised issues of social equity and international security, and a stirring of political will for environmental causes is evident: o In the United States, two dozen bills concerning the environment were cosponsored by more than 400 senators and representatives during the 100th Congress (1987 and 1988~. O In his 1988 campaign for the U.S. presidency, George Bush promised to convene an international conference on global warming during his first year in office. ~ 0 Last fall, in a speech to The Royal Society, Great Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher labeled protection of the balance of nature as one of the "great challenges of the late twentieth century."5
OCR for page 37
37 0 At their December 1987 summit meeting in Washington, D.C., General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan agreed to a collaboration on issues of climate and environmental change. o In his December 1988 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Gorbachev remarked that "international economic security is inconceivable unless related not only to disarmament but also to the elimination of the threat to the world's environment.~6 o In his 1988 World Environment Day message, Mostafa Tolba, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), warned that "it may take another 15 years before scientists can give reliable predictions of what warming will mean in each region. But by then it may be too late to act."7 He called on political and industrial leaders to cooperate with one another and with climate scientists to finance more international research and coordination that will produce more information more quickly. Last year, greater attention to climate change issues by the news media was both a cause and effect of the new public awareness. The National Geographic Society devoted the December 1988 issue of its magazine to the theme "Can Man Save This Fragile Earth?"8 Time magazine broke tradition and set aside identification of the man or woman of the year to dedicate its New Year's issue to "Planet of the Year: Endangered Earth."9 Beyond just diagnosing the ills of the planet, Time proposed a 19-point action agenda for all nations and 8 steps that the United States should take to address Earth's environmental crisis. In fact, three major U.S. news magazines--Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report--devoted cover articles to global change during 1988.l° More recently, the very critical nature of global change was well summarized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' recommendations to the Bush administration.ll (Excerpts of these recommendations may be found on page 30 of the January/February issue of Environment.) Growing public interest in global change issues has already prompted some political action. For example, in April 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development analyzed and explicated these issues in Our Common Future, the report commissioned by the United Nations General Assembly.l2 The commission argued persuasively that the issues of human and economic development, environmental quality, and natural resource husbandry are highly interdependent; sound development requires a sound environment and a strong natural resource base, and an unhealthy envi- ronment and resource depletion ensure poor development. The commission urged expansion of the role of the scientific community in planning, decisionmaking, and implementing measures for coping with climate change. (For a review of Our Common Future, see the June 1987 issue of Environ- ment.) In September 1987, several member countries of UNEP met in Montreal and signed an agreement to stem CFC production. Although the Montreal Protocol is very modest (and many say insufficient), the fact that a precedent was established in arriving at a multilateral agreement somewhat offsets the disappointment of the compromises that became necessary to enhance the protocol's appeal to prospective signatories. Encouraged by this step, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization
OCR for page 38
38 established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to address the vastly more difficult problem of greenhouse warming by assessing the science, impacts, and policy implications of that topic. (For more on this panel, see the January/February 1989 issue of Environment.) In the summer of 1988, 300 experts in science, law, environment, and economics met at the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security in Toronto, Canada. The Conference Statement concluded that the gravity of the risk of global warming called for a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 1988 levels by 2005.13 It urged support for such efforts as the World Climate Programme, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and Human Response to Global Change. (For more on the conference, see a special report on the Conference Statement in the January/February 1989 issue of Environment and the statement's 22-point 'tCall for Action" on page 31 of the September 1988 issue of Environment.) A SCIENTIFIC INITIATIVE In September 1986, an ad hoc planning committee recommended to the General Assembly of ICSU that an International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme be organized to guide and assess scientific research on global change. ICSU agreed to the program and, in early 1987, appointed a Special Committee to plan an IGBP that would "study the progressive changes in the environment of the human species on this Earth, past and future; to identify their causes, natural or man-made; and to make informed predictions of the long-term future and thus of the dangers to our well being and even to our survival; and to investigate ways of minimizing those dangers that may be open to human intervention.~814 To realize these goals, IGBP will sponsor research in several critical areas and will actively support other research programs, both national and international. During the first half of 1988, the Special Committee developed a preliminary research plan.15 In October, the IGBP Scientific Advisory Council, composed of members of ICSU, national IGBP committees, and other organizations from 40 nations, met in Stockholm to review the research plans. The Special Committee proposed a broad array of activities to the nearly 200 scientists assembled. In the end, five broad topics under which research could be grouped and coordinated were defined: terres- trial biosphere-atmosphere chemistry interactions; marine biosphere- atmosphere interactions; biospheric aspects of the hydrological cycle; effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems; and global analy- sis, modeling, and interpretation.16 Certain research areas deserving concentrated attention were iden- tified, including data and information systems, geosphere-biosphere observatories, and techniques for extracting environmental data of the past.17 IGBP task forces are focusing on each of these areas to develop a research agenda for the l990s. For each focus, they are investigating an array of interrelated research projects either proposed or already under way (e.g., World Climate Research Program, World Ocean Circulation
OCR for page 39
39 Experiment, Man and the Biosphere Program, International Global Atmo- spheric Programme, and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project). Some of the most exciting research topics opening up include Earth history, the forcing functions of global change, Earth-system fluxes, and predicting resource availability. By documenting historical Earth processes and studying their results and by assessing present and anticipated anthropogenic impacts, future global changes might be predicted more accurately. Theories and models of future global change can be tested by comparing them to actual historical changes. Thus, Earth history will be exploited to identify the forces behind climate change and to investigate the coupling between biogeochemical processes and the physical climate (e.g., the connection between greenhouse-gas emissions and global warming). This work will require an extensive observation system to document past Earth processes and future envi- ronmental change. Forcing functions of global change, including solar and orbital changes, solid-Earth processes, and, in particular, human activities that influence the Earth system on a planetary scale, must be analyzed and understood. Variations in solar activity influence climate change over scales of decades, centuries, and millennia. The solar energy flux can affect not only the physical environment but also such biological pro- cesses as photosynthesis and respiration. Solid-Earth processes such as volcanic eruptions and marine vents affect the global climate and may cause extinctions. Changes in a human activity like land use can cause global change by disturbing carbon storage, nutrient cycles, the hydrologic cycle, atmo- spheric composition, and the reflection of solar energy from the Earth's surface. As global population grows and humans convert more and more natural resources into goods and services, anthropogenic perturbations of the environment can only increase. (Figure 5.1 shows projected popula- tion growth through the year 2120.) The rate of change itself may be a forcing function because the rate of change can affect the kind of change; short-term but extreme perturbations of Earth's system can cause more dramatic changes than do long-term, gradual perturbations. Scientists must pay more attention to the interactions of physical, chemical, and biological components of the system and to the flux of energy, water, and chemicals throughout all of Earth's domains, instead of concentrating on pieces of the system as if they were static and isolated. Understanding these interactions is critical in part because global change is nonlinear: It occurs as a threshold response to a continual force, just as the back of the proverbial camel breaks suddenly with the addition of one more straw. Moreover, the change effected upon the atmosphere by the ocean will in turn affect the ocean (as well as other domains). Special attention must be paid to the cycling of chemicals (carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and trace gases) through the physical, biological, industrial, and agricultural systems. A net- work of geosphere-biosphere observatories in selected ecosystems is envisioned to serve as regional research and training centers. As understanding of Earth processes is enhanced, attention will be turned
OCR for page 40
40 12- 11 10 1 - 8- O ~n _ ~ ~.O 6- ~ — ~ Q O _ 5— 3 2 More developed regions 1950 2000 2050 2100 YEAR FIGURE 5.1 Projected population growth for developed and less developed regions through the year 2120. Notes: More developed regions include Europe, North America, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the USSR. Less developed regions include Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. SOURCES: Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, World Population Prospects as Assessed in 1980 Population Studies No. 78 (New York: United Nations, 1981~; and Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, Long-Range Population Projections of the World and Major Regions, 2025-2150 Five Variants as Assessed in 1980. 1981 (New York: United Nations, 1981~. to developing quantitative models capable of projecting global change into the future. Global change will cause important, large-scale modifications in the availability and distribution of renewable and nonrenewable resources. Although the force behind the change may be global in scale (like global
OCR for page 41
41 warming), predictions of resource availability are needed on a regional scale. (In the January/February issue of Environment, Thomas E. Graedel presents a methodology for assessing and predicting regional impacts of global change.) OTHER INITIATIVES An important contribution to global-change research planning was the massive report Earth System Science released in January g988 by the Earth System Sciences Committee of the NASA Advisory Council. The commit- tee's mandate was to define a comprehensive, integrated program to obtain a scientific understanding of the entire Earth system and of the func- tions and interactions of its component parts. Such understanding could enable scientists to predict both natural and anthropogenic global changes over time scales of decades to centuries. The committee made detailed recommendations on five substantive topics: o space-based and in situ long-term measurement of the global vari- ables that define the vital signs of the Earth system and control its changes; o fundamental description of Earth and its history; o process studies and research focused on key Earth-system problems; o development of Earth-system models to integrate data sets, guide research programs, and simulate future trends; and o development of an information system to facilitate data reduction, data analysis, and quantitative modeling.l9 The committee identified two distinct phases of work: near-term (1987-1995), to include the currently planned space missions and the conduct of essential process studies, and long-term (1995 and beyond), to deploy a new generation of space technology integrated with ground-based measurements to constitute a comprehensive Earth Observing System (EOS). During April 1988, senior officials from 17 national space agencies gathered in Durham, New Hampshire, for the ISY Mission to Planet Earth Conference ? 20 which was convened in connection with the International Space Year (ISY) planned for 1992. The conference established a Space Agency Forum for ISY and chose to make "mission to planet Earth" a major theme of ISY. Recently, the increasing number, diversity, and sophis- tication of space-agency Earth observation missions have underscored the importance of standardizing their output and making it readily acces- sible. Therefore, particular support was given to a proposal to mount a Global Information Systems Test (GIST) to develop globally accessible formats for data collected by national systems on two key problems: early detection of the greenhouse effect and deforestation. The IGBP initiative at the international level is being supported by imaginative proposals emanating from many of the 70 scientific organ- izations adhering to ICSU.21 For example, last year the Committee on Global Change of the U.S. National Research Council22 recommended that U.S. contributions to IGBP include the development of an integrated EOS
OCR for page 42
4Z with space- and ground-based observatories and proposed initial research priorities that included studies of: o water, energy, and vegetation interactions, to develop models of the coupling between climate and terrestrial ecosystems; o fluxes of trace gases and nutrients between terrestrial ecosystems, the atmosphere, and the oceans; o biogeochemical dynamics in the ocean, to understand and predict the effects of global change on ocean biogeochemical cycles and their feedback effects on global change; o Earth history, to construct models of past climate change that could stand as a basis for validating models of future global change; and o human interactions with global change, with special attention to land-use changes that affect both physical and biological parameters and to the residues from industrial/agricultural processes that perturb the global environment.23 EARTH OBSERVING SYSTEM In the past, revolutionary advances in science have followed the development of an instrument that enables scientists to observe in detail some aspect of the natural world. For example, the invention of the microscope and its sophisticated progeny opened the fields of cellular and molecular biology and gave humans new understanding of life pro- cesses. No single piece of hardware triggered the current revolutionary shift in Earth sciences.24 However, remote sensing from spacecraft together with the communications and computation capability now available have stimulated a holistic view of this planet and its atmosphere, oceans, land, fauna, and flora. Much of the research described above requires the development and implementation of an extensive and elaborate Earth Observing System. EOS should identify and document past, present, and future global changes with both ground- and space-based sensors. The potential of space-based sensors is not yet appreciated widely enough, but the emerging capability has profound implications for the revolution under way in Earth sciences. The data provided by EOS must be made accessible to researchers through a global information system incorporating the latest advances in communication and computers. In the same vein, internationalization of space-based observations of Earth's vital signs is urgent. The very modest first steps taken last April by 17 national space agencies to make ''mission to planet Earth" a major theme of ISY 1992 should be expanded and institutionalized as a free-standing program, independent of the competing demands for resources, to advance the broad objectives of space science and technology. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPONDS In close coordination with the National Research Council and ICSU, a U.S. strategy for global change research was developed by federal
OCR for page 43
43 agencies and transmitted to Congress by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the Presi- dent.25 The strategy document accompanied President Reagan's budget message for fiscal year 1990, which begins October 1, 1989. The budget message proposed funding global change research with $190.5 million--an increase of 41 percent. 6 The U.S. Global Change Research Program aims to provide a sound scientific basis for national and international policy decisions on global change issues. The program's scientific objectives are to monitor, understand, and, ultimately, predict global change. The strategy document identified seven integrated and interdisciplinary elements of the program:27 o Biogeochemical dynamics. The study of the sources, sinks, fluxes, and interactions among the mobile biogeochemical constituents within the Earth system and their influences (including global warming) on the life- sustaining envelope of the Earth. o Ecological systems and dynamics. The study of how aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems both affect and respond to global change. 0 Climate and hydrologic systems. The study of the physical pro- cesses that govern the climate and hydrological systems central to global change, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere (oceans, surface and ground water, etc.), cryosphere (frozen regions), land surface, and biosphere. o Human interactions. The study of the interface between natural processes and human activities. (The global environment is a crucial determinant of the human capacity for sustained development.) o Earth-system history. The study of past natural environment change as it is revealed in rocks, terrestrial and marine sediments, glaciers and ground ice, tree rings, geomorphic features (including the record of changes in sea level), or other manifestations of past environmental conditions. As past analogues of possible future global changes, the records contribute to the understanding of the present Earth system, to the discrimination between natural and anthropogenic change, and hence to the prediction of future global change. o Solid-Earth processes. The study of solid-Earth processes that affect the life-supporting characteristics of the global environment and especially those processes that take place at the interfaces between the solid Earth and the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere. o Solar influences. The study of variability in solar brightness and its impact on atmospheric density, chemistry, dynamics, ionizations, and climate. This strategy document sent to the U.S. Congress represents a crosscutting review and integration by the Office of Management and Budget of a number of initiatives by individual agencies with different purposes and characteristics in support of a national objective. This effort followed a procedure proposed by a committee of the presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine and several of their respective councilors. 8
OCR for page 44
44 KEY ISSUES The attractive opportunities during the next decade for a true partnership between the scientific community and government to study global change are matched only by the challenges that must be met and overcome. For example, a balance must be achieved between the traditionally cautious scientist who tries to satisfy a seemingly insatiable appetite for information before supporting action and the sometimes overzealous environmental activists who maintain that deferred action only leads to more difficult decisions in the future. This dilemma can be resolved only by the wisdom and good judgment of political leaders. For instance, many actions that have not been proven necessary on purely scientific grounds are nonetheless advisable on economic or - other grounds; increasing energy efficiency is a perfect example. Prudence alone suggests that such actions are desirable. Redesigning Institutions Another challenge is to reconstruct the present international institutional framework for addressing both research and policy; this framework was formed before the interdependence of nations became so apparent and when it was believed that global issues (food, weather, energy, and socioeconomic development, etc.) could be compartmentalized and addressed in relative isolation. National institutions for space research must be "internationalized"--that is, space agencies must develop closer interaction despite past competitiveness and political differences. The institutional framework must become capable of ad- dressing issues that cut across disciplines and intermingle science and policy; at the same time, the framework must gain the support of nations with conflicting ideologies and in various stages of socioeconomic de- velopment. In light of characteristic institutional inertia, the fight for reform and renewal will be difficult. Related to the issue of international institutional arrangements, but an urgent matter in its own right, is the required coordination among the wide array of research efforts directed toward each particular aspect of global change. Harmonious orchestration of these efforts is imperative; however, intrusive management of research must be avoided and the essential function of the individual investigator must be protected. Social Sciences and Engineering Another key issue is the involvement in global change research of disciplines not strictly in the domain of natural science but still relevant to understanding interactions between humans and their envi- ronment. For example, because some of the roots of global change are found in the metabolism of the industrial/agricultural system, it is important for the engineers and managers of those systems to participate actively in charting the future course.29 Because global change arises
OCR for page 45
45 from social systems as much as from physical, chemical, and biological systems, the full participation of social scientists is also urgent. Although in the past many natural scientists resisted the inclusion of other disciplines in their research programs, during these last two years, the ubiquitous role of social and behavioral sciences and engineering in the study of global change has been widely recognized.30 In its full flowering, IGBP will become a sustained, international, and coordinated research program to illuminate the interaction of the physical, chemical, biological, and social systems that regulate Earth's unique environment for life. As IGBP evolves and matures, it should become an admirable collaboration among the scientific community, nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations, and sovereign nations. The program increasingly will attract the interest of engineers and social and behavioral scientists. Their involvement should suggest new dimensions for research, such as assessing the societal impact of global change in all its myriad manifestations; analyzing possible public policies that should be considered to obviate certain kinds of global change, mitigate others, and adapt to still others; and developing policy options flexible enough to incorporate uncertainty, with respect to both the human con- tributions to global change and the unequal division of the positive and negative consequences of global change over local, regional, national, and international territories. An entirely new mode of interdisciplinary cooperation among natural scientists, social scientists, and engineers will be required. A new social contract must be drawn up among science, engineering, and society. Developing Countries One major challenge is to ensure the full involvement of developing nations in IGBP. A particular opportunity for them is afforded by the proposal to establish strategically located geosphere-biosphere observa- tories dedicated to training and research. It would be tragic if the use of high technology in space-sensors, communications, and computers pre- cluded the participation of scientists from developing countries. The global policy issues that must be resolved in the years to come will require the support of every nation. The most effective way to ensure this support is to make specific provision for their participation in the development of the knowledge base that will undergird those decisions. In this way, each nation will realize the necessity of and work toward a convergence of international interests and aspirations. The magnitude of the task of unifying policies in developing and developed countries was revealed at the recent meetings in New Delhi and London. These meetings underscored the need to cooperate to establish the baseline that will make the difficult decisions tractable. Indeed, more and more, scien- tists are realizing that the single, indivisible Earth system belongs to one indivisible world in which it is insufficient to study one society in isolation from all others.
OCR for page 46
46 Financing Financing IGBP and other such international research programs is another great challenge. If major decisions on public policy in response to prospective global change are to be solidly based on the best available information rather than on popular and political perception, creative solutions to finance the needed research will have to be fashioned. Material needs fall into two categories: national financing of national programs and national financing of integrated international activities. Each category can be further divided into financing of the immediate planning phase and financing of the longer research phase. Currently, it appears that the international preparatory effort requires anywhere from U.S.$1 to 2 million annually. If the U.S. funding for the planning phase is used as a guide, the ratio of domestic to international funding is greater than 100 to 1. The cost of the material resources for the research phase will probably be an order of magnitude larger for both the national and international programs. Still, even the cost of the research phase will seem small when compared to the costs of whichever measures are finally chosen to adapt to or influence global change. Clearly, new ground will have to be broken in integrating and coordinating national and international planning, research, and operations. Financing work in developing countries is a special issue. Nations unable to finance national research could easily be left behind even though their participation in policy decisions is vital. New financing systems patterned after the International Foundation for Science in Stockholm and the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa, for example, will have to be arranged. Now is a good time to explore the feasibility of an International Science Foundation to fulfill at the international level the same need that was perceived at the national level by President Roosevelt and Vannevar Bush in the late 1940s and gave rise to the U.S. National Science Foundation. An institutional framework of this kind would represent an expansion of the activities supported by the International Foundation for Science and the International Develop- ment Research Centre. CONTINUING QUESTIONS The new public interest in global change raises some important questions. Can a global strategy to survive the upcoming changes be fashioned in a world of more than 150 sovereign nations at various levels of dynamism and socioeconomic development? Could the United Nations be given the power to police the global atmosphere as was proposed at the Netherlands summit meeting of 24 nations in early March? Will industrialized nations agree to "compensatory financing to Third World countries unable to bear the cost of the conservation and antipollution measures" needed?31 Is the knowledge base adequate for an international program of action? Is "mission to planet Earth" simply a catch phrase, or does it constitute a viable focal point for transforming the
OCR for page 47
47 scientific and technological triumphs of this century into a service, rather than a threat, to society? How can priorities be established when demands for resources are unlimited? There are no easy answers to these and other questions that have surfaced in the past two years. Although many questions inevitably will remain unanswered for some time, certain vital steps must be taken at once. Environmental changes with profound consequences are impelling nations to seek politically and economically acceptable solutions. To be viable and effective, the solutions need to have broad authorship, because nations that participate in the derivation of a solution will be more likely to support and implement it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a promising forum for the needed effort because it has been structured to develop objective assessments of environmental impacts and to design response strategies based on an international consensus of scientific knowledge. The nations of the world should give this panel full support and hold its leadership to the highest standards of performance. One vital strategy, "parallel action," will ensure that scientific assessments and response strategies can proceed simultaneously. Through IGBP, an agenda for informed debate, discussion, and action is emerging that warrants sustained attention during the approximately 4,300 days that remain before we cross the threshold into the third millennium. The implications of the IGBP research effort for science and society are profound. The next major milestone will be a June 1989 meeting in Brussels that will bring together the Special Committee and national IGBP committees to develop a synthesis of the various plans that were presented by the Special Committee and several national committees in Stockholm last October. The global changes clearly visible on the horizon are rooted in the scientific and technological advances that have unlocked many of the secrets of matter, energy, life processes, and information and made this knowledge accessible for human purposes. The options for society are three: o permitting civilization to be snuffed out by savaging the global environment with the weaponry scientific knowledge has made available; o allowing the global environment and civilization to be gradually suffocated by exponential population growth and by uncontrolled and inequitable transformation of natural resources into the goods and services that sustain and give meaning to life; and o planning and constructing a more prosperous, just, and secure world. The coming decade will be one of the more critical periods in the several million years of human evolution. If humans are to survive safely the changes that clearly lie ahead, each day must be marked by discrete progress toward a better world. Knowledge, the coin of scientific enterprise, is the sine qua non of such progress. However, the first step perhaps is to "reaffirm a robust faith in the destiny of man.~32 It is the unique privilege and challenge of this generation to open this window of opportunity into that better world.
OCR for page 48
48 NOTES 1. Thomas F. Malone, "Mission to Planet Earth," Environment, October 1986, 6. Recently this title received broader public attention through the study by astronaut Sally Ride, Leadership: America's Future in Space (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1987~. The phrase Remission to planet Earth" has become a catch phrase describing the efforts to understand and respond to global and climatic change. 2. U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Greenhouse Effect and Global Climate Change, inns anon 1~t pt. 2, 39. 3. Particularly relevant articles may be found in Mosaic 19 nos. 3/4 (1988~; Earth System Sciences Committee, NASA Advisory Council, Earth System Science; A Closer View (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1988~; and the U.S. National Research Council, Space Science in the Twenty-First Century: Imperatives for the Decades 1995 to 2015: Mission to Planet Earth (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988~. 4. For U.S. planning see U.S. National Research Council, Committee on Global Change, Toward an Understanding of Global Change: Initial Priorities for U.S. Contributions to the International Geosphere- Biosphere Program (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988~. An account of international planning is found in J. J. McCarthy, chairman, The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme: A Study of Global Change (IGBP) A Plan for Action, Report No. 4 (Stockholm: IGBP Secretariat, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, August 1988~. Christine McGourty, "Margaret Thatcher's U-turn on Support of Basic Research," Nature 338~6 October 1988~:484. Translated by the Soviet Mission to the United Nations, New York Times, 8 December 1988, A16. 7. Mostafa Tolba, 'global Warming: Window of Opportunity, fir speech delivered in Bangkok, 5 June 1988. 8. "Can Man Save This Fragile Earth?" National Geographic, December 1988. 9. "Planet of the Year: Endangered Earth," Time, 2 January 1989. 10. Ibid.; "The Greenhouse Effect," Newsweek, 11 July 1988; and William F. Allman, "Rediscovering Planet Earth," U.S. News and World Report, 31 October 1988, 56. 11. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, The Four White Papers for the Transition Team (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989~. 12. World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1987~. 13. H. L. Ferguson, conference director, Conference Statement, World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 27-30 June 1988, published by Environment Canada. 14 . S ir John Kendrew, president of the International Geosphere- Biosphere Programme, cited in McCarthy, note 4 above, page 3. 15. McCarthy, note 4 above. ~ ~ ~ it_ 1 ~ ~ ~ Ja J-O ~ ~ ~ J ~ ~ ~
OCR for page 49
49 21. 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid. 18. Earth System Sciences Committee, NASA Advisory Council, Earth System Science: A Program for Global Change (Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1988~. 19. Ibid. 20. H. Myerson, ea., Report of the ISY Mission to Planet Earth Conference: A Planning Meeting for the International Space Year (Washington, D.C.: US-ISY Association, 1988~. V. M. Kotlyakov, J. R. Mather, G. V. Sdasyuk, and G. F. White, "Global Change: Geographical Approaches (A Review)," Proceedings, National Academy of Sciences 85 (August 1988~:5986-91. 22. U.S. National Research Council, note 4 above. 23. Ibid. 24. Earth System Sciences Committee, NASA Advisory Council, note 18 above. 25. Committee on Earth Sciences, Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology, Our Changing Planet: A U.S. Strategy for Global Change Research (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989~. 26. Ibid. 27. Ibid. 28. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, Federal Science and Technology Budget Priorities: New Perspectives and Procedures (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1988~. 29. John Helm, ea., Energy: Production, Consumption, and Consequences (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, forthcoming). 30. H. K. Jacobson and C. Shanks, Report of the Workshop on an International Social Science Research Program on Global Change at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1987; and U.S. National Research Council, Committee on Global Change, note 4 above. 31. Edward Cody, ''Global Environmental Power Sought," Washington Post, 12 March 1989, A27. 32. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Building the Earth (Wilkes-Barre, Penn.: Dimensions Books, 1965~.
Representative terms from entire chapter: