Discussing The Impacts Of Climate Change

2019-02-19T13:12:58+00:00 February 19, 2019|
(Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

(Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What It Was

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing titled: “The State of Climate Science and Why it Matters.”

Why It Matters

The impacts of climate change are felt across the nation, from flooding and intensified hurricanes to increased heat waves and droughts. The ocean regulates the global climate, drives weather, stores carbon, and generates food and income for millions, making the effects of a changing climate not just an environmental challenge, but an economic, public health, and national security challenge. This hearing focused on the role of science and innovative technology to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change’s effects on society.

Key Points

Witnesses detailed the effects climate change has on the ocean and human health. Dr. Jennifer Francis (Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center) explained the link between climate change and extreme weather events, telling the committee how the warming air and ocean lead to increased evaporation, fueling the rapid intensification of tropical storms. Dr. Kristie L. Ebi (Rohm & Haas Endowed Professor in Public Health Sciences, Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHanGE), University of Washington) spoke about the adverse effects of climate change on human health and healthcare infrastructure. Hospitals located along the coastline are vulnerable to extreme weather and climate hazards, such as floods or hurricanes, and damage to medical equipment and supplies during these events has direct consequences on the health of coastal communities.

Ranking Member Frank Lucas (OK-3) and several witnesses emphasized the importance of advancing technology to manage the effects of climate change. Witnesses called for more investment in basic science and more research in emission-reducing technology. Dr. Natalie M. Mahowald (Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering, Faculty Director for the Environment, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University) spoke about suggestions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming to 1.5°C that would help reduce climate change impacts using an array of technologies and techniques across sectors. Dr. Mahowald encouraged the United States to take a leading role in business, science, and technology to bring both clean energy and new jobs to the nation.

Dr. Robert Kopp (Director; Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University) stressed that to truly reduce emissions in the long term, climate change must become a routine and integrated part of decision making at all levels of the public, private sectors. Dr. Joseph Majkut (Director of Climate Policy, Niskanen Center) also encouraged promoting mainstream understanding of climate science and supporting market-based policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Quotable

“It is clear that we are responsible for our planet warming at an alarming rate, and we [are] already feeling the impacts of this warming today. Setting the stage with a discussion of the most relevant and up-to date scientific evidence from these and other reports, will allow us to better understand the climate-related impacts we are experiencing in all of our districts.”— Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)

“To stabilize the global climate we need to bring net global greenhouse gas emissons to zero. The sooner we do this the smaller the risks to our economy, health, infrastructure, and security that we will have to manage.”— Dr. Robert Kopp (Director, Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University)

“Before I go any further, let’s clear up a few definitions that sometimes cause confusion. Climate change versus global warming: Climate change means all the ways that the climate system is changing, while global warming is just one of those ways. Climate versus weather: Climate is the average of all the weather that occurs at a particular location, while weather is the day-to-day swings in temperature and precipitation. Think of climate as your personality, while weather is your mood on any given day.” — Dr. Jennifer Francis (Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Research Center)

Find Out More

Watch the full hearing

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership          

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