A Message From the Presidents

The year 2011 was one of the 10 warmest in the modern meteorological record, making the release of the final report of our America's Climate Choices series particularly timely. These ambitious studies by the National Research Council were aimed at ensuring that the nation's climate decisions are informed by the best possible scientific knowledge, analysis, and advice. The final report reiterated the call for an urgent, coordinated national response to climate change, with substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions among the highest priorities, and a plan for reducing vulnerability to global warming's inevitable impacts.

Reducing risk was also a primary focus of the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council's final report on the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The report urged the offshore drilling industry and government regulators to take a "systems safety" approach to drilling operations, anticipating and managing dangers at every level of an inherently risky endeavor. Health care continued to be a major issue in 2011. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, participating insurance plans are required to cover a set of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic services that have been defined as "essential." A report from the Institute of Medicine offered a set of criteria and methods to develop a package of benefits to cover many important health care needs and still be affordable.

This Report to Congress summarizes these and 17 others from the nearly 450 studies and projects completed by our Academies in 2011. And beginning this year, anyone with access to the Internet can download our reports free of charge. This fulfills our long-held goal of making our work freely accessible around the world.

In 2011, E. William (Bill) Colglazier, who served our institution as executive officer for 17 years, stepped down from the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council and was promptly appointed science and technology adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State. Bill's new position, we are pleased to note, was established in response to our 1999 report on the role science, technology, and health can play in international diplomacy. In 2012, Bruce B. Darling joins us from University of California as our new executive officer. Bruce brings extensive experience to the post, most recently as UC's vice president of laboratory management for the Department of Energy laboratories at Los Alamos, Livermore, and Berkeley.


Ralph J. Cicerone
President, National Academy of Sciences
Chair, National Research Council

Charles M. Vest
President, National Academy of Engineering
Vice Chair, National Research Council

Harvey V. Fineberg
President, Institute of Medicine