Subcommittee Democrats Stress the Need for Immediate Action on Climate Change

Apr 25, 2013
Subcommittee Democrats Stress the Need for Immediate Action on Climate Change

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing entitled “Policy-Relevant Climate Issues in Context.”  Testifying before the Subcommittee were Dr. Judith Curry, Professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. William Chameides, Dean at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University; and Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. 

Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said in her opening statement, “The stated subject of this hearing is ‘policy-relevant’ climate issues.  Because a preponderance of scientific evidence shows that human activity is leading to changes in the global climate, I submit that all climate issues have become ‘policy-relevant.’” 

In a statement for the record, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said, “The science surrounding this issue reached a consensus a long time ago, and that consensus is that the world is warming and most of that warming is being caused by humans… Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in the Majority don’t seem to have gotten the memo.  Many openly dispute the science or allude to some unspecified but supposedly vast scientific conspiracy.  Others, while less conspiratorial, insist that nothing can be done about the problem.  This is a failure of leadership of the highest order.”

Dr. Curry and Dr. Lomborg have each been called multiple times by the Republican Majority in past Congresses to testify on climate change.   The Minority called Dr. Chameides to provide a fresh voice before the Committee and to ensure that there was a witness to provide testimony reflective of the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed science on global climate change. 

Dr. Chameides and Democratic Members of the Subcommittee stressed that there is an overwhelming consensus that climate change is real and is being caused by humans.  They also emphasized the need to take immediate action on climate change.

Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) expressed her frustration that the witnesses called by the Majority to testify before the Committee lacked objectivity necessary to have an informed discussion of climate change. “I had hoped that in today’s hearing we would be able to identify the remaining uncertainties about climate science and understand our ability to mitigate them and to inform policy decisions that protect the public and our economy. I am not sure I have heard that quite yet. In fact, it has been quite disturbing because what I hear from our witnesses is that they agree that climate change is happening, that the globe is warming, they agree that it is some combination of natural occurrence and human activity. In fact all of you are members of various scientific and other societies who conclude that a vast majority of what is happening right now is caused by human activity. Yet here we are with one of our witnesses saying, let’s just wait and invest down the line to get cheaper technology, green technology, that helps us mitigate some of our concerns, and that’s really disturbing to me.”

“As a nation, we are becoming all too familiar with the consequences of waiting until the eleventh hour to develop solutions to the problems we face,” said Ms. Bonamici.  “Even for those who dispute or ignore the scientific evidence of climate change, we can still discuss the economic gains we can make by investing in a clean energy economy, modernizing our infrastructure, and seeking energy independence.  The United States has been a leader in renewable energy technology and climate research.  We must continue our investments if we intend to leave our children and grandchildren an environment in which they can thrive and support their families.”

Dr. Chameides said in his testimony, “There is, of course, much room for debate about what policies should be implemented to respond to climate change and its impacts, but uncertainty is not a reason for inaction.  We, as individuals and as a society, often act in the face of uncertainty.  And often we choose to take a conservative path, and rightly so.  I, for example, cannot predict if, let alone when, there will be a fire in my house, but I pay for fire insurance.  Similarly, in the face of uncertain but substantial risks from climate change, a prudent course of action is to develop and implement a risk-based and flexible response to the climate change challenge…America has choices to make about climate change; choices that we must make in the face of risks that are growing with every new ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.  We cannot avoid these choices.”