Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment

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Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment

The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) is a worldwide group of 22 international science unions and 40 national committees that work together on issues pertaining to the environment. SCOPE was founded in 1969 and today is headquartered in Paris, France. SCOPE stands as a permanent committee of the International Council for Science.

SCOPE describes its organization as "an interdisciplinary body of natural and social science expertise focused on global environmental issues, operating at the interface between scientific and decision-making instances" and "a worldwide network of scientists and scientific institutions developing syntheses and reviews of scientific knowledge on current or potential environmental issues." The committee aims to determine not only how human activities impact the environment, but also how environmental changes impact people's health and welfare.

With its broad international nature, SCOPE acts as an independent source of information for governments and nongovernmental entities around the world by offering research and consulting expertise on environmental topics. In past years, the committee has gathered scientists to produce reports including possible effects of nuclear war, biosphere programs to keep the earth inhabitable, and radioactive waste .

SCOPE's scientific program focuses on three main areas: managing societal and natural resources , ecosystem processes and biodiversity , and health and the environment. Managing societal and natural resources involves those projects that are founded on scientific research but that can be applied in a practical manner to help sustain the biosphere. In other words, the committee wants to ensure that Earth can continue to produce the fuel, food, and other natural resources needed to support the population. As of early 2002, nearly a dozen projects involving biosphere development, urban waste management , agriculture, conservation , and others fell under the spectrum of this SCOPE task.

Ecosystem processes and biodiversity projects focus on how ecosystems interact with human activities. These projects look at how activities such as mining and movement of substances such as nitrogen in rivers will affect the earth's land and water. Projects also look at changes in Earth's climate and the impact that those changes may have on future ecology .

The committee's health and environment projects develop methods to assess chemical risks of various activities to humans, plants, animals, and habitats. For example, the committee is working on a project involving the study of effects of mercury , particularly in aquatic environments. Another major project studies radioactivity at nuclear sites. Called RADSITE, the project aims to review radioactive wastes generated in development of nuclear weapons .

In addition to its own work and affiliation with the International Council for Science, SCOPE works in partnership with several international bodies including the United Nations Education, Social and Culture Organization (UNESCO), and the International Human Dimensions Program on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). SCOPE is a unique organization in its international scientific approach to, and cooperation on, environmental issues.

[Teresa G. Norris ]



O'Riordan, T. "A New Science for a New Age; New Scientist 133 (January 25, 1992): 14.


Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), %1, blvd. De Montmorency F-75016, Paris, France 33-1-45250498, Fax: 33-1-42881466, Email: secretariat@icsu-scope-org, <>

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Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment