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Transportation’s Impact

1971

Development of supersonic transport raises concerns about impacts on climate, and the Climate Impact Assessment Program is created under the Department of Transportation

Described as “the first major project in integrated assessment of an environmental issue,” the mission statement of the Climate Impact Assessment Program (CIAP) states that “in order to determine regulatory constraints on flight in the stratosphere such that no adverse environmental effects result, CIAP will assess … the impact on man, plants, and animals of climatic changes which may occur from the operation of a worldwide stratospheric fleet as projected to 1990.” The project has a $20 million budget and a three-year deadline and involves hundreds of researchers. The impact on climate is part of their charge, but concerns focused on the effect of supersonic transport on depletion of the ozone layer. The final report of the project clearly endorses international regulation of supersonic transport, but refrains from specific recommendations on the form of regulation.*

*NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center, “Thematic Guide to Integrated Assessment Modeling,” http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/mva/iamcc.tg/TGsec2-1.html; Karen Fisher-Vanden, “International Policy Instrument Prominence in the Climate Change Debate: A Case Study of the United States.” ENRP Discussion Paper E-97-06, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, August 1997, 2,  http://www.hks.harvard.edu/gea/pubs/e-97-06.pdf

Photo: A page from the PDF of proceedings of the survey conference sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, held in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb. 15-16, 1972.

Diagram: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001485885

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