Accordingly, during 1995, UCAR, the trustees, the members' representatives, and the University Relations Committee reviewed UCAR's mission and the progress toward the goals and objectives set in UCAR 2001 to determine their currency, validity, and appropriateness, and to update and change them where needed. This column is a summary of the results of that examination, titled UCAR 2001--A Mid-Course Assessment. The complete text of the original UCAR 2001 and the recent assessment are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.ucar.edu/info/.
A fundamental conclusion of the review is that UCAR's mission is valid and appropriate and the six goals identified in UCAR 2001 remain worthy and consistent with UCAR's mission (see box, page 3). Good to excellent progress has been made toward each of the goals, and lessons have been learned from some programs that changed dramatically or evolved out of existence. UCAR 2001-A Mid--Course Assessment describes sample accomplishments that led us to these conclusions.
Several strategic adjustments were identified as appropriate for the rest of the decade:
During our assessment, we were keenly aware of the new social, political, and budgetary climate in which science in the United States must now operate. The changes from even the recent past are abrupt and significant, and their effects are not fully known. However, they are likely to be long term. We see an increasing tendency for the public and government to view science with disenchantment and sometimes outright hostility. We see sweeping reform of organizations and budgets being considered with little to no attention paid to the impacts of that reform. Funding decisions are uncertain, long delayed, and hostage to political interests that are often unrelated to the programs at stake. The only certainty seems to be the high degree of uncertainty in the decisions that affect UCAR and its university colleagues.
In the face of current national instabilities and the sure and certain conviction that more change is likely, UCAR will continue to examine its role and its future with the aim of enhancing its ability to be a contributing member of the nation's and the world's scientific community. UCAR, working together with its members, affiliates, and sponsors and partners such as the American Meteorological Society, the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, can and must help move the political debate along, shaping its outcome in the process. We will strive always to look forward and to anticipate important new directions for the atmospheric and related sciences so that our contributions are timely, relevant, and intellectually sound.
The charges that have been made in the media and via electronic mail should not obscure a key, carefully worded and peer-reviewed finding of the IPCC:
"Our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited because the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability, and because there are uncertainties in key factors. These include the magnitude and patterns of long-term natural variability and the time-evolving pattern of forcing by, and response to, changes in concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, and land surface changes. Nevertheless, the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate." (Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Summary for Policymakers).