(Washington, DC)  The U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology today heard from several of the world’s leading climate change scientists on the coming affects of the global phenomena. 

Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) led the Committee’s continuing effort to combat climate change with an assessment of the just-released report, Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, prepared by Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

“This second report moves beyond the fact that global warming is occurring to provide us with a picture of what global warming means for natural systems and human communities throughout the world.  For the near term, the picture is a mosaic of positive and negative impacts,” noted Chairman Gordon.

Released in Brussels, Belgium on April 6, 2007, the Working Group II report tells us that we can, for the first time, detect the impacts of human activity-driven climate change on physical, biological and socio-economic systems.

Today’s hearing follows the Committee’s February hearing on the Working Group I report at which Members heard testimony from authors of that report, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

“I do not want to leave my daughter and her generation with the burden of a world with more food shortages, extended droughts, displaced coastal communities, increased public health problems, and political instability created by increased numbers of people displaced by climate-driven changes in their environments.  The information brought to us in this report makes a compelling case for action,” added Chairman Gordon. 

The Working Group II report identifies several U.S. and global affects.  Among those affects are a high confidence that warming in western mountains will lead to decreased snow pack, more winter flooding and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources; forests are projected to experience longer periods of high-fire risk; cities currently experiencing heat waves could expect them in greater frequency; and coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly affected by more intense tropical storms and increased infrastructure vulnerability.

“In my home state of Texas we are too well-acquainted with the devastating effects that severe weather events can have on individuals, communities, and the economy.  If we succeed in reducing the vulnerability of society to these events, we will not only reduce the monetary costs of responding to and recovering from these events, we will avoid and reduce the costs in human stress, suffering and loss associated with them,” added Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment in a submitted statement.

According to the Working Group II report, adaptive measures will be necessary to address climate change impacts as a certain degree of warming is unavoidable due to past emissions. 

As a long term strategy, mitigation provides a strong tool to help to avoid, reduce or delay the impacts of climate change.  This report suggests a response portfolio composed of strategies including mitigation, adaptation, technological development and research.  Furthermore, the impacts of climate change will vary regionally but net costs are very likely to impose net annual costs which will increase over time as global temperatures increase.

“We need to make our communities more climate resilient.  Adaptation is an essential near term step to reduce vulnerability to climate change.  But adaptation alone is not enough.  We owe it to our children and all future generations to lead the world in a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” concluded Chairman Gordon.

One of the bills before the Committee is H.R. 906, the Global Climate Change Research and Data Management Act, authored by Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO). The bill amends the U.S. Global Change Research Program to increase the quality of research looking at the potential impacts of climate change on both regional and global scales.  The information gathered from H.R. 906 will allow federal, state, and local governments to better adapt and respond to the effects of global change.

Among the expert witnesses at today’s hearing were: Dr. Virginia Burkett, Lead Author, IPCC, Working Group II, Chapter 6: Coastal Systems and Low Lying Areas; Dr. William E. Easterling, Coordinating Lead Author, IPCC, Working Group II, Chapter 5: Food Fibre and Forest Products; Dr. Roger Pulwarty, Lead Author, IPCC, Working Group II, Chapter 17: Assessment of Adaptation Practices, Options, Constraints and Capacity; Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig, Coordinating Lead Author, IPCC, Working Group II, Chapter 1: Assessment of Observed Changes and Responses in Natural and Managed Systems; Dr. Stephen H. Schneider, Coordinating Lead Author, IPCC, Working Group II, Chapter 19: Assessing Key Vulnerabilities and the Risk from Climate Change; and Dr. Shardul Agrawala, Coordinating Lead Author, IPCC, Working Group II, Chapter 17: Assessment of Adaptation Practices, Options, Constraints and Capacity.