National Science Board calls for significant new investment in research on the environment

Basic environmental research is essential to the nation's well-being and economic growth, according to a report released today by the National Science Board (NSB), the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The interim report, Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century: The Role of the National Science Foundation, discusses the need for the U.S. to make a significant new investment in the basic science and engineering discovery necessary to understanding the environment. It maintains that NSF is uniquely positioned to provide leadership in basic environmental research in the future.

"Discoveries over the past decade or more have revealed new linkages between the environment and human health, our nation's prosperity and the well-being of our citizens," says Eamon Kelly, chair of the NSB. "But just as we are beginning to better understand these linkages, the rate and scale of modifications to the environment are increasing. These alterations will present formidable challenges in the new century -- challenges which we are now only minimally equipped to meet."

The report states, "Within the broad portfolio of science and engineering for the new century, the environment is emerging as a vigorous, essential and central focus."

The report has been produced by the NSB Task Force on the Environment, established in August, 1998, to help NSF to define the scope of its role regarding environmental research, education and scientific assessment, and to determine the best means of implementing activities in this area. The Task Force, chaired by Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., was charged with reviewing the scope of current NSF activities related to basic research, education and scientific assessment on the environment. It was also tasked with developing policy guidance for NSF that will be used to design activities consistent with the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) strategy, the goal

Contact: Cheryl Dybas/Peter West
National Science Foundation

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