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From the oceans to continental heartlands, human activities have altered the physical characteristics of Earth's surface. With Earth's population projected to peak at 8 to 12 billion people by 2050 and the additional stress of climate change, it is more important than ever to understand how and where these changes are happening. Innovation in the geographical sciences has the potential to advance knowledge of place-based environmental change, sustainability, and the impacts of a rapidly changing economy and society. Understanding the Changing Planet outlines eleven strategic directions to focus research and leverage new technologies to harness the potential that the geographical sciences offer.
Despite efforts to reduce drug consumption in the United States over the past 35 years, drugs are just as cheap and available as they have ever been. Cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines continue to cause great harm in the country, particularly in minority communities in the major cities. Marijuana use remains a part of adolescent development for about half of the country's young people, although there is controversy about the extent of its harm.Given the persistence of drug demand in the face of lengthy and expensive efforts to control the markets, the National Institute of Justice asked the National Research Council to undertake a study of current research on the demand for drugs in order to help better focus national efforts to reduce that demand. This study complements the 2003 book, Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs by giving more attention to the sources of demand and assessing the potential of demand-side interventions to make a substantial difference to the nation's drug problems. Understanding the Demand for Illegal Drugs therefore focuses tightly on demand models in the field of economics and evaluates the data needs for advancing this relatively undeveloped area of investigation.
In 2004, the NRC released a workshop report about the future direction of the U.S. civil space program. At the same time, the Administration announced the Vision for Space Exploration, and in June 2004, it issued a report that articulated a balanced space program for human and robotic exploration and science. Subsequent NRC reports, however, have noted that NASA has not been given the resources to carry out this broad-based program. This challenge, along with others faced by the U.S. civil space program, stimulated the NRC to form an ad hoc committee to organize a second workshop, held in November 2007, to address the space program’s future directions. The workshop’s goal was to air a range of views and perspectives so as to inform discussions of these questions by policymakers and the public. This book presents a summary of the workshop.
The rapid conversion of land to urban and suburban areas has profoundly altered how water flows during and following storm events, putting higher volumes of water and more pollutants into the nation's rivers, lakes, and estuaries. These changes have degraded water quality and habitat in virtually every urban stream system. The Clean Water Act regulatory framework for addressing sewage and industrial wastes is not well suited to the more difficult problem of stormwater discharges. This book calls for an entirely new permitting structure that would put authority and accountability for stormwater discharges at the municipal level. A number of additional actions, such as conserving natural areas, reducing hard surface cover (e.g., roads and parking lots), and retrofitting urban areas with features that hold and treat stormwater, are recommended.
Using the American Community Survey for the National Science Foundation's Science and Engineering Workforce Statistics Programsby National Research Council of the National Academies
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long collected information on the number and characteristics of individuals with education or employment in science and engineering and related fields in the United States. An important motivation for this effort is to fulfill a congressional mandate to monitor the status of women and minorities in the science and engineering workforce. Consequently, many statistics are calculated by race or ethnicity, gender, and disability status. For more than 25 years, NSF obtained a sample frame for identifying the target population for information it gathered from the list of respondents to the decennial census long-form who indicated that they had earned a bachelors or higher degree. The probability that an individual was sampled from this list was dependent on both demographic and employment characteristics. But, the source for the sample frame will no longer be available because the census long-form is being replaced as of the 2010 census with the continuous collection of detailed demographic and other information in the new American Community Survey (ACS). At the request of NSF’s Science Resources Statistics Division, the Committee on National Statistics of the National Research Council formed a panel to conduct a workshop and study the issues involved in replacing the decennial census long-form sample with a sample from the ACS to serve as the frame for the information the NSF gathers. The workshop had the specific objective of identifying issues for the collection of field of degree information on the ACS with regard to goals, content, statistical methodology, data quality, and data products.
Beginning in the early 1980s, new technologies, began to permit evaluation of the expression of individual genes. Recent technological advances have expanded those evaluations to permit the simultaneous detection of the expression of tens of thousands of genes and to support holistic evaluations of the entire genome. The application of these technologies has enabled researchers to unravel complexities of cell biology and, in conjunction with toxicologic evaluations, the technologies are used to probe and gain insight into questions of toxicologic relevance. As a result, the use of the technologies has become increasingly important for scientists in academia, as well as for the regulatory and drug development process.
Nutrient recycling, habitat for plants and animals, flood control, and water supply are among the many beneficial services provided by aquatic ecosystems. In making decisions about human activities, such as draining a wetland for a housing development, it is essential to consider both the value of the development and the value of the ecosystem services that could be lost. Despite a growing recognition of the importance of ecosystem services, their value is often overlooked in environmental decision-making. This report identifies methods for assigning economic value to ecosystem services—even intangible ones—and calls for greater collaboration between ecologists and economists in such efforts.
The Small Business Administration issued a policy directive in 2002, the effect of which has been to exclude innovative small firms in which venture capital firms have a controlling interest from the SBIR program. This book seeks to illuminate the consequences of the SBA ruling excluding majority-owned venture capital firms from participation in SBIR projects. This book is part of the National Research Council's study to evaluate the SBIR program's quality of research and value to the missions of five government agencies. The other books in the series include: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11989 An Assessment of the SBIR Program (2008) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11929 An Assessment of the SBIR Program at the National Science Foundation (2007) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11964 An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the National Institutes of Health (2009) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12052 An Assessment of Small Business Innovation Research Program at the Department of Energy (2008) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12441 An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2009) http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11963 An Assessment of the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the Department of Defense (2009).
The world's nations are moving toward agreements that will bind us together in an effort to limit future greenhouse gas emissions. With such agreements will come the need for all nations to make accurate estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and to monitor changes over time. In this context, the present book focuses on the greenhouse gases that result from human activities, have long lifetimes in the atmosphere and thus will change global climate for decades to millennia or more, and are currently included in international agreements. The book devotes considerably more space to CO2 than to the other gases because CO2 is the largest single contributor to global climate change and is thus the focus of many mitigation efforts. Only data in the public domain were considered because public access and transparency are necessary to build trust in a climate treaty. The book concludes that each country could estimate fossil-fuel CO2 emissions accurately enough to support monitoring of a climate treaty. However, current methods are not sufficiently accurate to check these self-reported estimates against independent data or to estimate other greenhouse gas emissions. Strategic investments would, within 5 years, improve reporting of emissions by countries and yield a useful capability for independent verification of greenhouse gas emissions reported by countries.
Scientists and engineers have long relied on the power of imaging techniques to help see objects invisible to the naked eye, and thus, to advance scientific knowledge. These experts are constantly pushing the limits of technology in pursuit of chemical imaging&#8212the ability to visualize molecular structures and chemical composition in time and space as actual events unfold&#8212from the smallest dimension of a biological system to the widest expanse of a distant galaxy. Chemical imaging has a variety of applications for almost every facet of our daily lives, ranging from medical diagnosis and treatment to the study and design of material properties in new products. In addition to highlighting advances in chemical imaging that could have the greatest impact on critical problems in science and technology, Visualizing Chemistry reviews the current state of chemical imaging technology, identifies promising future developments and their applications, and suggests a research and educational agenda to enable breakthrough improvements.
Vital statistics, the records of birth and death, are a critical national information resource for understanding public health. Over the past few decades, the specific program that gathers the data has evolved into a complex cooperative program between the federal and state governments for social measurement. The Vital Statistics Cooperative Program (VSCP) is currently maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The U.S. vital statistics system relies on the original information reported by myriad individuals, channeled through varying state and local information systems, and coordinated and processed by a federal statistical agency that has experienced relatively flat funding for many years. The challenges facing the vital statistics system and the continuing importance of the resulting data make it an important topic for examination. A workshop, held by the National Academies and summarized in this volume, considered the importance of adequate vital statistics. In particular, the workshop assessed both current and emerging uses of the data, considered the methodological and organizational features of compiling vital data, and identified possible visions for the vital statistics program.
Without major changes, the current air transportation system will be unable to accommodate the expected increase in demand by 2025. One proposal to address this problem is to use the Global Positioning System to enable aircraft to fly more closely spaced. This approach, however, might be limited by the wake turbulence problem, which can be a safety hazard when smaller aircraft follow relatively larger aircraft too closely. To examine how this potential hazard might be reduced, Congress in 2005 directed NASA to request a study from the NRC to assess the federal wake turbulence R&D program. This book provides a description of the problem, an assessment of the organizational challenges to addressing wake turbulence, an analysis of the technical challenges in wake turbulence, and a proposal for a wake turbulence program plan. A series of recommendations for addressing the wake turbulence challenge are also given.
In December 2002, a group of specialists on water resources from the United States and Iran met in Tunis, Tunisia, for an interacademy workshop on water resources management, conservation, and recycling. This was the fourth interacademy workshop on a variety of topics held in 2002, the first year of such workshops. Tunis was selected as the location for the workshop because the Tunisian experience in addressing water conservation issues was of interest to the participants from both the United States and Iran. This report includes the agenda for the workshop, all of the papers that were presented, and the list of site visits.
National interests in greater energy independence, concurrent with favorable market forces, have driven increased production of corn-based ethanol in the United States and research into the next generation of biofuels. The trend is changing the national agricultural landscape and has raised concerns about potential impacts on the nation's water resources. To help illuminate these issues, the National Research Council held a colloquium on July 12, 2007 in Washington, DC. <i>Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States</i>, based in part on discussions at the colloquium, concludes that if projected future increases in use of corn for ethanol production do occur, the increase in harm to water quality could be considerable from the increases in fertilizer use, pesticide use, and soil erosion associated with growing crops such as corn. Water supply problems could also develop, both from the water needed to grow biofuels crops and water used at ethanol processing plants, especially in regions where water supplies are already overdrawn. The production of "cellulosic ethanol," derived from fibrous material such as wheat straw, native grasses, and forest trimmings is expected to have less water quality impact but cannot yet be produced on a commerical scale. To move toward a goal of reducing water impacts of biofuels, a policy bridge will likely be needed to encourage growth of new technologies, best agricultural practies, and the development of traditional and cellulosic crops that require less water and fertilizer and are optimized for fuel production.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed its feasibility study for the Upper Mississippi River-Ilinois Waterway, which was one of the agency's longest and most complicated studies in its history. The first two reports from this WSTB committee reviewed analytical aspects of the Corps feasibility study. This report considered the broader issue of managing the multiple resources of the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway, especially with regard to several, recently-issued NRC reports on Corps of Engineers planning procedures. The report finds that a key issue regarding planning decisions on these river systems is the ambiguity related to several different pieces of legislation and acts that govern river management, and thus recommends that the administration and Congress clarify the federal intent for managing this river and waterway system. The report recommends an independent, retrospective reivew of the experience with a federal inter-agency Principals Group, which was convened to provide guidance to the Corps study. It is also recommended that the Corps strive to incorporate flexible, adaptive management principles through its entire water planning program, including operations of the lock and dam system.
As women of childbearing age have become heavier, the trade-off between maternal and child health created by variation in gestational weight gain has become more difficult to reconcile. Weight Gain During Pregnancy responds to the need for a reexamination of the 1990 Institute of Medicine guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy. It builds on the conceptual framework that underscored the 1990 weight gain guidelines and addresses the need to update them through a comprehensive review of the literature and independent analyses of existing databases. The book explores relationships between weight gain during pregnancy and a variety of factors (e.g., the mother's weight and height before pregnancy) and places this in the context of the health of the infant and the mother, presenting specific, updated target ranges for weight gain during pregnancy and guidelines for proper measurement. New features of this book include a specific range of recommended gain for obese women. Weight Gain During Pregnancy is intended to assist practitioners who care for women of childbearing age, policy makers, educators, researchers, and the pregnant women themselves to understand the role of gestational weight gain and to provide them with the tools needed to promote optimal pregnancy outcomes.
By 2030 there will be about 70 million people in the United States who are older than 64. Approximately 26 percent of these will be racial and ethnic minorities. Overall, the older population will be more diverse and better educated than their earlier cohorts. The range of late-life outcomes is very dramatic with old age being a significantly different experience for financially secure and well-educated people than for poor and uneducated people. The early mission of behavioral science research focused on identifying problems of older adults, such as isolation, caregiving, and dementia. Today, the field of gerontology is more interdisciplinary. When I'm 64 examines how individual and social behavior play a role in understanding diverse outcomes in old age. It also explores the implications of an aging workforce on the economy. The book recommends that the National Institute on Aging focus its research support in social, personality, and life-span psychology in four areas: motivation and behavioral change; socioemotional influences on decision-making; the influence of social engagement on cognition; and the effects of stereotypes on self and others. When I'm 64 is a useful resource for policymakers, researchers and medical professionals.
The past 15 years have seen marked progress in observing, understanding, and predicting weather. At the same time, the United States has failed to match or surpass progress in operational numerical weather prediction achieved by other nations and failed to realize its prediction potential; as a result, the nation is not mitigating weather impacts to the extent possible. This book represents a sense of the weather community as guided by the discussions of a Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate community workshop held in summer 2009. The book puts forth the committee's judgment on the most pressing high level, weather-focused research challenges and research to operations needs, and makes corresponding recommendations. The book addresses issues including observations, global non-hydrostatic coupled modeling, data assimilation, probabilistic forecasting, and quantitative precipitation and hydrologic forecasting. The book also identifies three important, emerging issues--predictions of very high impact weather, urban meteorology, and renewable energy development--not recognized or emphasized in previous studies. Cutting across all of these challenges is a set of socioeconomic issues, whose importance and emphasis--while increasing--has been undervalued and underemphasized in the past and warrants greater recognition and priority today.
The use of radio-frequency communication--commonly referred to as wireless communication--is becoming more pervasive as well as more economically and socially important. Technological progress over many decades has enabled the deployment of several successive generations of cellular telephone technology, which is now used by many billions of people worldwide; the near-universal addition of wireless local area networking to personal computers; and a proliferation of actual and proposed uses of wireless communications. The flood of new technologies, applications, and markets has also opened up opportunities for examining and adjusting the policy framework that currently governs the management and use of the spectrum and the institutions involved in it, and models for allocating spectrum and charging for it have come under increasing scrutiny. Yet even as many agree that further change to the policy framework is needed, there is debate about precisely how the overall framework should be changed, what trajectory its evolution should follow, and how dramatic or rapid the change should be. Many groups have opinions, positions, demands, and desires related to these questions--reflecting multiple commercial, social, and political agendas and a mix of technical, economic, and social perspectives. The development of technologies and associated policy and regulatory regimes are often closely coupled, an interplay apparent as early as the 1910s, when spectrum policy emerged in response to the growth of radio communications. As outlined in this report, current and ongoing technological advances suggest the need for a careful reassessment of the assumptions that inform spectrum policy in the United States today. This book seeks to shine a spotlight on 21st-century technology trends and to outline the implications of emerging technologies for spectrum management in ways that the committee hopes will be useful to those setting future spectrum policy.
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