Achieving and Sustaining Earth Observations: A Preliminary Plan Based on a Strategic Assessment by the U.S. Group on Earth Observations [open pdf - 603KB]
"The combination of population growth, climate change, resource demand, and the continuing development of coastal and built areas creates significant challenges for the Nation. To meet these challenges, there is a need for information about the Earth system and how it is changing over time. A robust infrastructure of Earth observations is necessary to support the Nation's need to inform decisions and policy. Additionally, in this ever more global society, information and understanding derived from Earth observations are important in sustaining the U.S. role in global leadership. The U.S. Government recognizes that a coordinated approach is needed to sustain and build on the current set of Earth observations. Beyond coordination, there is a need for a continued national commitment to ensure that Earth observations, like other critical infrastructure, are maintained and continued. […] Global climate change presents us with a complex and inextricably-linked mix of environmental, economic, security, and political issues for all nations on the planet. It is a long-term, century-to-millennial problem, the outcomes of which directly depend on the soundness of decisions being made today. Climate change is most clearly defined at the global scale. However, society faces greater challenges in characterizing, understanding, and predicting its impacts at the scale of local communities and individuals. Decisions being made over such an unprecedented range of temporal and geographic scales, and affecting all human activity, must rest on the bedrock of accurate scientific information. This information must be derived from comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained observations of the Earth system in order to characterize the impacts of climate change, and inform our plans for adaptation and mitigation."
United States. White House Office: http://www.whitehouse.gov/