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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
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Item #d95nov97

A review conducted by a panel of the National Research Council supports the scientific basis and direction of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, dismissing charges made recently by some members of Congress that the program was designed by Democrats obsessed with unfounded fears of global warming. (See Reports/General Interest, this issue--Nov. 1995.) However, the review does fault the White House for providing insufficient attention to the program, legislators of both parties for providing inadequate and unreliable funding, and researchers for failing to provide clear direction for the interdisciplinary program. (See (all 1995): Science, p. 1665, Sep. 22; Nature, p. 191, Sep. 21; Intl. Environ. Rptr., p. 743, Sep. 20.)

The review, requested by Republican Robert Walker, chair of the House of Representatives Science Committee, comes at a time when the research program is facing severe cuts in the fiscal year 1996 budget currently delayed in Congress. Especially targeted is NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program, including its Earth Observing System (EOS) of satellites planned to be launched over the next few years. EOS is the largest component of the Global Change Research Program. (For detailed discussion of political and scientific criticisms faced by these programs see Science, pp. 1208-1210, Sep. 1, 1995.) The National Research Council review calls for little substantial change in the programs, but does recommend privatizing most of the distribution of data collected by EOS satellites.

A separate, 18-month review limited to NASA science, by an independent panel of industrial managers and academic researchers, was released in early October. (See Science, p. 26, Oct. 6, 1995.)

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