The center has identified three program areas: the state of the nation's ecosystems, global change, and the sustainable oceans, coasts and waterways. The report on the state of the nation's ecosystems is the most comprehensive document on the condition of U.S. lands, waters, and living resources. The report supplies business leaders and the general public with essential information concerning local, state, and national environmental policy. It provides decision-makers a scientific basis to decide on the best course of action, without putting forth prescriptive recommendations. The focus of the project is on ecosystem indicators, agreed upon by hundreds of experts from universities, government agencies, corporations, and environmental organizations. Funded by the federal government, foundations, and corporations, the report also emphasizes key gaps in data that must be filled to allow a complete picture of ecosystem conditions. One of these missing data has been identified through a national "carbon storage" indicator. Also, as part of the report, the center has formed an air quality working group that has the task of identifying the suite of chemicals that pose the greatest risks to human and ecosystem health.
The Global Change Program stems from the consideration that global changes in climate pose challenges to policy-makers in both developed and developing countries. The Global Change team analyzes policy responses to global environmental changes, both in terms of limiting change and in terms of adapting to it. The Global Change program includes domestic and international collaborators. Both its present and past projects have tackled issues that are relevant for global warming. For example, the "Evaluation of Technology Policies to Help Lower Emissions of Greenhouse Gas" (1999) assessed the effectiveness of policies to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies for lowering emissions of greenhouse gases. The "Lowering Emission of Greenhouse Gases Through Emission Trading" (1988) examined alternative plans to include emissions trading into a potential U.S. program for lowering emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Researchers analyzed how different potential trading systems worked under realistic conditions, and provided advice to Congress and the Administration on the cost-effectiveness of the major options. The Heinz Center plays a major role in the international Global Energy Assessment (GEA) project, an effort to provide essential information for global energy policy development and future energy strategies. GEA is structured around four main areas of analysis: major global issues and energy, energy resources and technological options, possible sustainable futures, and policies advancing energy for sustainable development.
A major project of the Global Change Program is the Eco-thresholds initiative, which was established to explore the subject of defining acceptable levels of greenhouse gas concentrations and to determine how to anticipate and deal with rapid changes in ecosystems. Started in 2005, Eco-thresholds is the result of the cooperation of the Heinz Center with The Nature Conservancy and the Joint Global Change Research Institute. The project has gathered members of the scientific and policy communities to explore the science behind thresholds and their implications for decision-making. The Eco-thresholds project aims to enhance collaboration among government, business, academia, and environmental nongovernmental organizations to define key issues caused by abrupt changes in ecological systems. The project also intends to promote long-term cooperation among the sectors and stakeholders to cope with threshold changes in natural, managed, and socioeconomic systems. Finally, the participants will discuss acceptable levels of greenhouse gases necessary to limit those threshold changes that cannot be dealt with through management actions. In addition to the Eco-thresholds initiative, the center sponsors the program "Methane 2100" to document the global distributions and concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere, by sensors aboard a polar retrograde orbiting satellite. The third area of intervention by the center is the Sustainable Oceans, Coasts and Waterways Program to devise policies to stop the decline in quality and sustainability in these vital areas.
SEE ALSO: Energy; Greenhouse Gases; Methane Cycle.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. "Biography of Senator H. John Heinz, III," Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, www.library.cmu.
edu (cited October 2007); Eco-Thresholds Project, www. ecothresholds.org (cited October 2007); Heinz Center, www.heinzctr.org (cited October 2007).
Luca Prono University of Nottingham
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