Our Climate is Changing and We Must Confront That Reality
Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson discussed the importance of recognizing our climate realities and working diligently to preserve our planet in an op-ed which appeared in The Hill.
With Earth Day upon us, I would just like to note a few of the things we have learned in the past several years – the Earth is warming, sea ice is disappearing, the glaciers are receding, the oceans are acidifying, and sea levels are rising. We know all of this from climate science. And all of this will impact every single person on this planet.
The work being done at NASA, NOAA and other agencies is providing the crucial data that our nation will need to move forward on this critical issue, yet some would have us stop climate science research across the federal government.
Hiding our heads in the sand will not solve anything, and it certainly won’t stop the Earth from warming. I know that some still question whether climate change is real, but in reality we are now beyond that question. The overwhelming majority of scientists agree that it is real and it is happening.
To be fair, in trying to understand a phenomenon of this magnitude, the job of science will never be done. It will continue to evolve. We must always keep looking for new answers, replacing opinions with data, and projections with observations. We must continue to innovate in how we predict, measure, prevent and adapt to climate change. That is the nature of science and of our stewardship of our planet.
We in Congress have to acknowledge that we are not the experts, and that allowing partisan politics to skew the scientific understanding of climate change is cynical, short-sighted, and, by definition, ignorant. I implore my colleagues to recognize the value of research, and resist efforts to defund and destroy the very scientific community that will give us answers. We may not agree as to where the uncertainties within climate science lie, but we can all understand that vast and avoidable uncertainties will remain if you stop the progress of climate science.
This may be the scientific and policy challenge of the millennium, and we have a responsibility to the nation and the world to lead.
A former colleague of mine, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), eloquently conveyed his dismay at the recklessness of climate skepticism by comparing it to the diagnosis of a sick child - if 98 doctors prescribe one treatment, and 2 doctors prescribe a different treatment, who are you going to follow? We don’t cure a disease by refusing to test for it, calling the doctor a liar, and refusing to consider any treatment.
We have two choices when it comes to global climate change: we can allow our scientists to continue to conduct extensive research and improve our knowledge of this phenomenon, or we can just wait to watch it happen and hope for the best. Our climate is changing, that fact is irrefutable. This Earth Day should serve as a rallying call for increased investment in ground-breaking climate science. Climate change is an issue that impacts everyone on this Earth, and we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to do all we can to address it.