EDITORIAL

Earth System Research Priorities

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Science  17 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5938, pp. 245
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178591

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Summary

Human-induced climate change was unknown outside of limited scientific circles just 25 years ago, but it has now become the focus of intense national discussions and international negotiations. One chapter in the story of how this issue moved from lab benches to national capitals was recognized by the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, which was co-awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its influential assessments of the state of scientific knowledge. But the story also involves the research itself; in particular, that catalyzed by the Global Environmental Change Research Programmes* and the Earth System Science Partnership. These programs, sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU) in partnerships with other international science organizations (www.icsu.org), have helped to catalyze and guide global environmental research for several decades. But it's time to propose new research priorities, and ICSU seeks input through a Web consultation process now under way.