Climate science – Empowering our Response to Climate Change (Sen. Jay Rockefeller)

There are some people who believe that climate change exists and is worthy of great discussion, further discovery and action. Others are still not convinced. For me – I believe the science is overwhelming and the danger of getting it wrong is too great. We must act.

The time for arguing whether carbon emissions affect the health of the earth or whether our sea level is rising from global warming is and must be over. We must discuss solutions now, and tackle the challenges we face head on.

The Commerce Committee hearing this week on Climate Science was about taking science out of the laboratory and into our communities in order to help people understand how climate variability and climate change are impacting their everyday lives – from clean air and water to fixing our rapidly declining economy.
Climate affects every aspect of our economy. Over one-third of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product is sensitive to weather and climate. It determines the types of crops we grow and where we grow them; it affects where we live and where we build our roads, homes, and schools; it determines the amount of energy we need; and it affects our health.

Make no mistake - climate change is affecting our world in ways we are only beginning to understand. Warmer temperatures bring longer growing seasons in some regions, increasing agriculture production. We have seen severe storms that threaten coastal ecosystems, public health crisis are rapidly evolving through increased infectious and respiratory illnesses and weather-related mortality – the list goes on.

The economic consequences of climate change are equally grave. These issues are particularly important because of the serious challenges facing our economy. I know many Americans believe that addressing climate change may have a negative impact on jobs.

The cost of inaction will be much worse than the impact on the economy of action. More importantly, action on climate change will produce new jobs and make our economy stronger.

In this crucial time in our nation’s history, the decisions we make now can and will set the course for many generations to come. We have the ability to improve the economy and the climate simultaneously.

Through the decisions we make today - we can: resolve to transition to a low carbon economy, increase sound climate science and drive effective decision-making, enhance stakeholder-driven climate science that directly addresses public needs and concerns, and improve our ability to mitigate, respond, and adapt to climate change.

The time to act is now.