RAND > ISE > Projects & Resources > Our Future, Our Environment > Welcome - Preface


Over thirty years have passed since the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act and the beginning of the modern era of environmental protection. As we enter the new millennium, Americans have reason to celebrate the environmental accomplishments of the last three decades, but also an obligation to prepare for an uncertain and complex future.

This magazine-like web report includes a collection of issues that are just becoming visible on the horizon and where significant changes are expected in the next 10-15 years that could greatly impact our environment and how we protect it. The goal was not to predict the future, but identify issues to better prepare for the inevitable changes related to technological innovation, the restructuring of the global economy, and increasing pressures on our governing institutions. This report reflects the culmination of discussions with a wide group of experts and forward-looking thinkers, both domestically and internationally, and shares these findings in a way that will reach as many people as possible.

It is a collection of ideas, because in times of change, new ideas matter. You will find that the report reached no firm and sharp conclusions because the environmental consequences of the ideas being explored are not fully known. What does emerge are the outlines of a new set of environmental opportunities and new challenges that deserve timely attention.

This report combines new ideas with the new media. It was created, reviewed, and refined using the Internet, and it will be initially disseminated on the web. The report is a book without covers, a radio, a television, and a piece of a conversation about our common future.

We are deeply indebted to the dozens of people who took the time to share their thoughts and ideas with us, and now, with you. Help us finish the thoughts presented here, act on them, and ensure that these stories have a positive outcome for our future environment.

About RAND's Science and Technology Policy Institute

Originally created by Congress in 1991 as the Critical Technologies Institute and renamed in 1998, the Science and Technology Policy Institute is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the National Science Foundation and managed by RAND. The Institute's mission is to help improve public policy by conducting objective, independent research and analysis on policy issues that involve science and technology. To this end, the Institute:

  • Supports the Office of Science and Technology Policy and other Executive Branch agencies, offices, and councils

  • Helps science and technology decisionmakers understand the likely consequences of their decisions and choose among alternative policies

  • Helps improve understanding in both the public and private sectors of the ways in which science and technology can better serve national objectives.

Science and Technology Policy Institute research focuses on problems of science and technology policy that involve multiple agencies. In carrying out its mission, the Institute consults broadly with representatives from private industry, institutions of higher education, and other nonprofit institutions.

Bruce Don
Science and Technology Policy Institute

Next section: Editors' Message

Our Future - Our Environment: Front Page

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Editors' Message


This publication, IP-203, is part of the RAND Issue Papers series. RAND Issue Papers explore topics of interest to the policymaking community. Although Issue Papers are formally reviewed, authors have substantial latitude to express provocative views without doing full justice to other perspectives. The views and conclusions expressed in Issue Papers are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of RAND or its research sponsors.

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