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.
Johnson is the ranking member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.