Category Archives: General Topics

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Happy Earth Day!

Credit: Landsat 7 Science Team and NASA GSFC

Credit: Landsat 7 Science Team and NASA GSFC

Last year the world saw record-breaking temperatures and 2015 became the warmest year on record. Human activities largely determine the future evolution of the Earth’s climate, which not only impact the next few decades, but the coming centuries and millennia.

Climate change poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. Our reports inform many of the 21st century choices for responding to climate change through improving understanding of the causes and consequences.

A special 25% Earth Day discount applies through April 29, 2016. Use discount code EARTH when you order online.

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes is a jointly produced publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the …

[more]

Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change

As climate has warmed over recent years, a new pattern of more frequent and more intense weather events has unfolded across the globe. Climate models simulate such changes in extreme events, and some of the reasons for the changes are well …

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The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions

Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all …

[more]

Arctic Matters: The Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic

Viewed in satellite images as a jagged white coat draped over the top of the globe, the high Arctic appears distant and isolated. But even if you don’t live there, don’t do business there, and will never travel there, you are closer to the Arctic …

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Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that …

[more]

Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth

The growing problem of changing environmental conditions caused by climate destabilization is well recognized as one of the defining issues of our time. The root problem is greenhouse gas emissions, and the fundamental solution is curbing those …

[more]

Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration

The signals are everywhere that our planet is experiencing significant climate change. It is clear that we need to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from our atmosphere if we want to avoid greatly increased risk of …

[more]

Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue

Source: nyctruckinsurance.com

Source: nyctruckinsurance.com

There are approximately 4,000 fatalities in crashes involving trucks and buses in the United States each year. While many factors play a role in these crashes, estimates suggest that possibly 10 to 20 percent might have involved fatigued drivers. The stresses associated with their particular jobs (irregular schedules, etc.) and the lifestyle that many truck and bus drivers lead, puts them at substantial risk for insufficient sleep and for developing short- and long-term health problems.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health and Highway Safety assesses the state of knowledge about the relationship of such factors as hours of driving, hours on duty, and periods of rest to the fatigue experienced by truck and bus drivers while driving and the implications for the safe operation of their vehicles. This report evaluates the relationship of these factors to drivers’ health over the longer term, and identifies improvements in data and research methods that can lead to better understanding in both areas.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Fatigue, Long-Term Health, and Highway Safety: Research Needs

There are approximately 4,000 fatalities in crashes involving trucks and buses in the United States each year. Though estimates are wide-ranging, …

[more]

Flood Resilience

(Aaron M. Sprecher/AFP/Getty Images)

(Aaron M. Sprecher/AFP/Getty Images)

Recent flooding in Louisiana and Texas call attention to the importance of our nation’s infrastructure established to manage our water resources and mitigate the effects of flooding. Advances in engineering can reduce the risk of levee and dam failure, but levees and dams cannot remove the risk of flooding. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report, Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience: A Vision for Future Practice, explores how dam and levee safety programs might be broadened to consider community- and regional-level priorities in decision making to help reduce the risk of, and increase community resilience to, potential dam and levee failure. Collaboration between dam and levee safety professionals at all levels, persons and property owners at direct risk, and the social and environmental networks in a community would allow all stakeholders to better understand risks, shared needs, and opportunities, and would ultimately lead them to make more informed decisions to support community resilience.

Our Flood Resilience collection offers guidance for multiple sectors involved in community planning and the flood recovery process.

Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience: A Vision for Future Practice

Although advances in engineering can reduce the risk of dam and levee failure, some failures will still occur. Such events cause impacts on social and physical infrastructure that extend far beyond the flood zone. Broadening dam and levee safety programs to consider community- and regional-level …

[more]

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

Source: New York Times - Toru Hanai/Reuters

Source: New York Times – Toru Hanai/Reuters

On this day five years ago, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami sparked a severe nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Three of the six reactors at the plant sustained severe core damage and released hydrogen and radioactive materials. Explosion of the released hydrogen damaged three reactor buildings and impeded onsite emergency response efforts. The accident prompted widespread evacuations of local populations, large economic losses, and the eventual shutdown of all nuclear power plants in Japan. It wasn’t until August 2015 that Japan began the controversial return to nuclear power generation.

Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants is a study of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. This report examines the causes of the crisis, the performance of safety systems at the plant, and the responses of its operators following the earthquake and tsunami.

Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety of U.S. Nuclear Plants

The March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami sparked a humanitarian disaster in northeastern Japan. They were responsible for more than 15,900 deaths and 2,600 missing persons as well as physical infrastructure damages exceeding $200 billion. The earthquake and tsunami also …

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Privacy vs. Security

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Source: CNN

Privacy is a growing concern in the United States and around the world. The vast reaches of the Internet and the seemingly infinite options for collecting, saving, sharing, and comparing information trigger legitimate apprehension. The recent FBI request of custom access to an iPhone used by one of the two terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino brought the debate surrounding privacy vs. security to the forefront. Our reports examine the state of privacy in the information age and the policies that currently exist to protect personal user privacy.

Privacy Research and Best Practices: Summary of a Workshop for the Intelligence Community

Recent disclosures about the bulk collection of domestic phone call records and other signals intelligence programs have stimulated widespread debate about the implications of such practices for the civil liberties and privacy of Americans. In …

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Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence: Technical Options

The Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence: Technical Options study is a result of an activity called for in Presidential Policy Directive 28 (PPD-28), issued by President Obama in January 2014, to evaluate U.S. signals intelligence …

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Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Program Assessment

All U.S. agencies with counterterrorism programs that collect or “mine” personal data — such as phone records or Web sites visited — should be required to evaluate the programs’ effectiveness, lawfulness, and impacts on privacy. A framework is …

[more]

Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age

Privacy is a growing concern in the United States and around the world. The spread of the Internet and the seemingly boundaryless options for collecting, saving, sharing, and comparing information trigger consumer worries. Online practices of …

[more]

Zika Virus

zik-world-map_active_01-26-2016_web_2

On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Zika virus was “spreading explosively” and estimated that as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year. The WHO will be holding an emergency meeting on Monday to determine whether this outbreak should be declared an international health emergency. This decision would allow countless resources to be mobilized towards more effectively combating this global health crisis.

We’ve collected our resources that provide an overview of infectious diseases and address this growing global challenge. All are free to download.

Photo Source: CDC

Rapid Medical Countermeasure Response to Infectious Diseases: Enabling Sustainable Capabilities Through Ongoing Public- and Private-Sector Partnerships: Workshop Summary

Emerging infectious disease threats that may not have available treatments or vaccines can directly affect the security of the world’s health since these diseases also know no boundaries and will easily cross borders. Sustaining public and …

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International Infectious Disease Emergencies and Domestic Implications for the Public Health and Health Care Sectors: Workshop in Brief

Emerging infectious disease events present a threat to U.S. national security, and we need improved efforts to coordinate a response both domestically and with global partners. The most recent outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa is …

[more]

Emerging Viral Diseases: The One Health Connection: Workshop Summary

In the past half century, deadly disease outbreaks caused by novel viruses of animal origin – Nipah virus in Malaysia, Hendra virus in Australia, Hantavirus in the United States, Ebola virus in Africa, along with HIV (human immunodeficiency …

[more]

Infectious Disease Movement in a Borderless World: Workshop Summary

Modern transportation allows people, animals, and plants–and the pathogens they carry–to travel more easily than ever before. The ease and speed of travel, tourism, and international trade connect once-remote areas with one another, eliminating …

[more]

Global Health Risk Framework: Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems to Respond to Global Infectious Disease Outbreaks: Workshop Summary

Since the 2014 Ebola outbreak many public- and private-sector leaders have seen a need for improved management of global public health emergencies. The effects of the Ebola epidemic go well beyond the three hardest-hit countries and beyond the …

[more]

Global Health Risk Framework: Pandemic Financing: Workshop Summary

Since the 2014 Ebola outbreak many public- and private-sector leaders have seen a need for improved management of global public health emergencies. The effects of the Ebola epidemic go well beyond the three hardest-hit countries and beyond the …

[more]

Global Health Risk Framework: Governance for Global Health: Workshop Summary

Since the 2014 Ebola outbreak many public- and private-sector leaders have seen a need for improved management of global public health emergencies. The effects of the Ebola epidemic go well beyond the three hardest-hit countries and beyond the …

[more]

Global Health Risk Framework: Research and Development of Medical Products: Workshop Summary

Since the 2014 Ebola outbreak many public- and private-sector leaders have seen a need for improved management of global public health emergencies. The effects of the Ebola epidemic go well beyond the three hardest-hit countries and beyond the …

[more]

The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: A Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Crises

Since the 2014 Ebola outbreak many public- and private-sector leaders have seen a need for improved management of global public health emergencies. The effects of the Ebola epidemic go well beyond the three hardest-hit countries and beyond the …

[more]

2015 Climate Change

201512

The unusual warmth of December seems like a distant memory after this weekend’s blizzard on the east coast. However NOAA’s most recent State of the Climate report revealed that 2015 was the Earth’s warmest year by the widest margin on record. The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880, and the December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was the highest on record for any month in the 136-year period.

Explore our reports on climate change to learn more. All are free to download.

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes is a jointly produced publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the …

[more]

Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that …

[more]

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on …

[more]

Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth

The growing problem of changing environmental conditions caused by climate destabilization is well recognized as one of the defining issues of our time. The root problem is greenhouse gas emissions, and the fundamental solution is curbing those …

[more]

Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration

The signals are everywhere that our planet is experiencing significant climate change. It is clear that we need to reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from our atmosphere if we want to avoid greatly increased risk of …

[more]

The Science Behind ‘Making a Murderer’

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The Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer” has inspired serious debate around the case of Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey. For those of you who aren’t already hooked on the show, Avery was exonerated by DNA evidence after serving 18 years for a sexual assault and attempted murder that he did not commit. Our reports explain the strengths and weaknesses of forensic evidence and eyewitness identification.

Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification

Eyewitnesses play an important role in criminal cases when they can identify culprits. Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of eyewitnesses make identifications in criminal investigations each year. Research on factors that affect the …

[more]

Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward

Scores of talented and dedicated people serve the forensic science community, performing vitally important work. However, they are often constrained by lack of adequate resources, sound policies, and national support. It is clear that change and …

[more]

Forensic Analysis Weighing Bullet Lead Evidence

Since the 1960s, testimony by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in thousands of criminal cases has relied on evidence from Compositional Analysis of Bullet Lead (CABL), a forensic technique that compares the elemental …

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Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence: Third Edition

The Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition, assists judges in managing cases involving complex scientific and technical evidence by describing the basic tenets of key scientific fields from which legal evidence is typically …

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Human Gene Editing: The Issues Behind the Progress in Genetics

gene_169470

A major component of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine’s Human Gene-Editing Initiative was the International Summit on Human Gene Editing that took place this past week. Co-hosted with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.K.’s Royal Society, the summit convened experts from around the world to discuss the scientific, ethical, and governance issues associated with human gene-editing research. The Summit Statement is available here, and the video and slides of the Summit will be permanently available at the summit website.

Below is a list of our titles that were either directly mentioned in presentations, or are related to this topic. All are free to download.

2008 Amendments to the National Academies’ Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research (2008)


ISBN 978-0-309-12220-7

In 2005, the National Academies released the report Guidelines for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, which offered a common set of ethical standards for a field that, due to the absence of comprehensive federal funding, was lacking national …

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Potential Risks and Benefits of Gain-of-Function Research: Summary of a Workshop (2015)


ISBN 978-0-309-36783-7

On October 17, 2014, spurred by incidents at U.S. government laboratories that raised serious biosafety concerns, the United States government launched a one-year deliberative process to address the continuing controversy surrounding so-called …

[more]

Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism (2004)


ISBN 978-0-309-08977-7

In recent years much has happened to justify an examination of biological research in light of national security concerns. The destructive application of biotechnology research includes activities such as spreading common pathogens or …

[more]

Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences (2006)


ISBN 978-0-309-10032-8

Biomedical advances have made it possible to identify and manipulate features of living organisms in useful ways&#8212leading to improvements in public health, agriculture, and other areas. The globalization of scientific and technical expertise …

[more]

Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Genomic Science Translation: Workshop Summary (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-29453-9

The process for translating basic science discoveries into clinical applications has historically involved a linear and lengthy progression from initial discovery to preclinical testing, regulatory evaluation and approval, and, finally, use in …

[more]

Conflict of Interest and Medical Innovation: Ensuring Integrity While Facilitating Innovation in Medical Research: Workshop Summary (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-30168-8

Scientific advances such as the sequencing of the human genome have created great promise for improving human health by providing a greater understanding of disease biology and enabling the development of new drugs, diagnostics, and preventive …

[more]

A Survey of Attitudes and Actions on Dual Use Research in the Life Sciences: A Collaborative Effort of the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2009)


ISBN 978-0-309-12510-9

The same technologies that fuel scientific advances also pose potential risks–that the knowledge, tools, and techniques gained through legitimate biotechnology research could be misused to create biological weapons or for bioterrorism. This is …

[more]

Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences (2010)


ISBN 978-0-309-15840-4

The Challenges and Opportunities for Education About Dual Use Issues in the Life Sciences workshop was held to engage the life sciences community on the particular security issues related to research with dual use potential. More than 60 …

[more]

Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Embedding a Culture of Science and Technology Throughout the Department of State (2015)


ISBN 978-0-309-37313-5

Diplomacy for the 21st Century recommends steps that the Department of State should embrace to take full advantage of the leading science and technology (S&T) capabilities of the United States. These capabilities provide the department …

[more]

Public Engagement on Genetically Modified Organisms: When Science and Citizens Connect: A Workshop Summary (2015)


ISBN 978-0-309-37421-7

The National Research Council’s Roundtable on Public Interfaces of the Life Sciences held a 2-day workshop on January 15-16, 2015, in Washington, DC to explore the public interfaces between scientists and citizens in the context of genetically …

[more]

Trust and Confidence at the Interfaces of the Life Sciences and Society: Does the Public Trust Science? A Workshop Summary (2015)


ISBN 978-0-309-37792-8

Does the public trust science? Scientists? Scientific organizations? What roles do trust and the lack of trust play in public debates about how science can be used to address such societal concerns as childhood vaccination, cancer screening, and …

[more]

Improving Genetics Education in Graduate and Continuing Health Professional Education: Workshop Summary (2015)


ISBN 978-0-309-31605-7

Many health care providers do not have either the knowledge or the tools they need in order to apply genetic information in their day-to-day practices. This lack of support is contributing to a substantial delay in the translation of genetic …

[more]

The Value of Genetic and Genomic Technologies: Workshop Summary (2010)


ISBN 978-0-309-15771-1

Knowing one’s genetic disposition to a variety of diseases, including common chronic diseases, can benefit both the individual and society at large. The IOM’s Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health held a workshop on March …

[more]

Genomics-Enabled Learning Health Care Systems: Gathering and Using Genomic Information to Improve Patient Care and Research: Workshop Summary (2015)


ISBN 978-0-309-37112-4

The inclusion of genomic data in a knowledge-generating health care system infrastructure is one promising way to harness the full potential of that information to provide better patient care. In such a system, clinical practice and research …

[more]

Assessing Genomic Sequencing Information for Health Care Decision Making: Workshop Summary (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-30494-8

Rapid advances in technology have lowered the cost of sequencing an individual’s genome from the several billion dollars that it cost a decade ago to just a few thousand dollars today and have correspondingly greatly expanded the use of genomic …

[more]

Integrating Large-Scale Genomic Information into Clinical Practice: Workshop Summary (2012)


ISBN 978-0-309-22034-7

The initial sequencing of the human genome, carried out by an international group of experts, took 13 years and $2.7 billion to complete. In the decade since that achievement, sequencing technology has evolved at such a rapid pace that today a …

[more]

Assessing Genetic Risks: Implications for Health and Social Policy (1994)


ISBN 978-0-309-08660-8

Raising hopes for disease treatment and prevention, but also the specter of discrimination and “designer genes,” genetic testing is potentially one of the most socially explosive developments of our time. This book presents a current assessment of …

[more]

Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security: A Framework for Addressing Ethical, Legal, and Societal Issues (2014)


ISBN 978-0-309-29334-1

Emerging and Readily Available Technologies and National Security is a study on the ethical, legal, and societal issues relating to the research on, development of, and use of rapidly changing technologies with low barriers of entry that …

[more]

Flooding and Resilience in Charleston, South Carolina

Image Credit: Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Image Credit: Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Catastrophic flooding in South Carolina during the past several days has claimed multiple lives and prompted President Obama to declare a major disaster in the State of South Carolina and order federal aid to supplement local recovery efforts. The Charleston, SC, metropolitan region is one of four American communities working closely with the Resilient America Roundtable to build resilience to such disasters.

“For the Charleston region, any loss of life is too much,” said Resilient America Roundtable Director Lauren Alexander Augustine. “The extent of the flood’s impact isn’t yet clear, and we hope that when the floodwaters recede, damage will not be as bad as feared. We also hope to channel energy around this flood into efforts that increase flood resilience in Charleston and other flood-prone communities.”

Meetings, workshops, and discussions with community groups in Charleston have identified some key priorities for building resilience in the area, including:
— measuring both flood risk and resilience to flooding;
— linking flood resilience, infrastructure, and economic growth in the community;
— improving communication about risk, perhaps through public art;
— rethinking the role of flood insurance in building resilience; and
— learning from other communities about ways to improve flood resilience.

The Resilient America Roundtable’s work builds upon the recommendations in a 2012 National Research Council report, Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, which identifies strategic steps the United States can take to reduce impacts on the nation’s communities from natural and human-induced disasters.

Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative

No person or place is immune from disasters or disaster-related losses. Infectious disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism, social unrest, or financial disasters in addition to natural hazards can all lead to large-scale consequences for the nation …

[more]

Launching a National Conversation on Disaster Resilience in America: Workshop Summary

With the increasing frequency of natural and human-induced disasters and the increasing magnitude of their consequences, a clear need exists for governments and communities to become more resilient. The National Research Council’s 2012 report …

[more]

Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience: A Vision for Future Practice

Although advances in engineering can reduce the risk of dam and levee failure, some failures will still occur. Such events cause impacts on social and physical infrastructure that extend far beyond the flood zone. Broadening dam and levee safety …

[more]

Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts

Hurricane- and coastal-storm-related losses have increased substantially during the past century, largely due to increases in population and development in the most susceptible coastal areas. Climate change poses additional threats to coastal …

[more]

Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery

In the devastation that follows a major disaster, there is a need for multiple sectors to unite and devote new resources to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, the provision of health and social services, the restoration of care delivery …

[more]