(Washington, DC)  Today, the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology held the first Congressional conversation with climate scientists who authored that 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report released last weekend in Paris (2/2/07). 

“This is the first opportunity Congress has had to examine the findings of this important report,” said Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

The report, entitled Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change, prepared by Working Group I of (IPCC), has been widely acknowledged as a comprehensive appraisal of the current state of scientific knowledge of climate change.  Over 400 other scientists served as contributing authors. In total, the Working Group One assessment received over 30,000 comments, testified Dr. Susan Solomon, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

“The scientific experts have provided us with a diagnosis of the problem and a prognosis for our planet’s health.  They’ve done their job and we know the prognosis is ominous.  Now, it is time for us – the policymakers – to do our jobs,” continued Chairman Gordon.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi signaled Congress’ intent to act during her remarks before the Committee, “We hold our children’s future in our hands – not our grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, but our own children.  As the most adaptable creatures on the planet, it is time for us to adapt.” 

The IPCC report noted that our climate is changing and we need to take immediate action to understand how best to adapt to those changes.  The report found that our climate’s rising temperatures have made hurricanes stronger, sea levels rise, and affected regional climate patterns – to name only a few affects.    

Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Coordinating Lead Author of the report told the Committee, “Following a detailed diagnosis of the vital signs of planet Earth, it has become evident that the planet is running a ‘fever’ and the prognosis is that it is apt to get much worse.  Warming of the climate system is unequivocal and it is ‘very likely’ to get much worse.”

“There’s no denying we face a big challenge,” said Chairman Gordon. “We must explore ways to reduce emissions, to adapt to coming changes and to mitigate the negative effects of a changing climate.  We cannot accomplish all this overnight, but we must begin in earnest now to address this serious issue.  Continued scientific research is essential to that process.”

“The IPCC report further solidifies the scientific opinion about climate change – the planet is getting warmer and human activity is responsible for this change.  With the scientific questions long settled, it is incumbent on the President to demonstrate leadership and work with Congress to address what policy changes our nation will make in response.  Waiting will only increase our vulnerability to increased droughts and floods, heat waves, and rising sea levels,” added Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO).

In the coming months, the Committee on Science and Technology expects to play a key role by acting to address areas of needed information identified by the IPCC report.  Namely, the Committee will work to set forth a “better understanding of regional vulnerabilities to climate change.”

The programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction that are part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program have provided the basic scientific understanding of this phenomenon.  But, if we are to mitigate and adapt to coming changes, we need to know what the new climatic conditions are likely to be in the areas where we live and work.  The Committee will address research programs that can improve our understanding of regional climate change. 

Another action item suggested by the Report’s findings the Committee will address is “expanded use of existing energy efficient, low-emission technologies and development of additional technologies to achieve energy savings and emission reductions.”  The Department of Energy has the lead in the Climate Change Technology Program.  The Committee will promote aggressive development and deployment of new technologies to maintain our standard of living while reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

“The U.S. can and should lead the world to address this,” said Chairman Gordon.  “I’ll see to it that this Committee does its part.”

Statements and testimony from today’s hearing can be found on the Committee’s website at http://science.house.gov.