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Reorienting the U.S. Global Change Research Program Toward a User-Driven Research Endeavor

Date: 
Thursday, May 3, 2007 - 12:00am
Location: 
Washington, DC
H.R. 906

Opening Statement By Vice-Chair Gabrielle Giffords

Good afternoon. I want to welcome everyone to today’s Subcommittee hearing called to receive testimony on H.R. 906, The Global Climate Change Research Data and Management Act of 2007. This is an important bill that will help us to better address climate change in this country, and I want to thank my colleagues, Representative Mark Udall and Ranking Member Bob Inglis, for taking action and introducing this legislation.

Through bills like H.R. 906, Congress is starting to take action to address the global conundrum that is climate change. It is not an exaggeration to say that the world’s future depends on our response. The clock is ticking, and Congress must work across party lines to pass concrete solutions as soon as possible. I think that this bill represents just that kind of needed bipartisanship.

H.R. 906 would reorient the U.S. Global Change Research Program to produce more user-friendly research and information. In addition, the Act would require the Administration to identify and consult with members of the user community in developing the USGCRP research plan.

I believe that there is a real need to apply the improved knowledge we have about climate to produce information that federal, state, and local officials, resource managers, and businesses can use. Managers can then utilize that research to develop response, adaptation, and mitigation strategies to reduce their regions’ vulnerability to climate change.

Let’s look at how H.R. 906 could impact the West and Arizona specifically. According to the IPCC and conversations of my own with distinguished climate scientists from the University of Arizona, I understand climate change could permanently reduce the flow of the Colorado River, lead to more severe, prolonged droughts, and cause water shortages for millions of people. More than 25 million people in Arizona and six other states depend on the Colorado River for water and power. Forest fires and invasive species are projected to increase, and we could face an influx of environmental refugees from around the world. This would drastically affect our quality of life.

What steps are currently being taken to develop response strategies to reduce the Southwest’s vulnerability to climate change? In February of 2006, the Governors of Arizona and New Mexico signed an agreement to create the Southwest Climate Change Initiative. Under the agreement, our states will collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the impacts of climate change in the Southwest. However, in order to do that, our state planners need relevant data to make the best decisions on how to respond.

That’s where H.R. 906 comes in. Climate change is happening in the Southwest, but Arizona can help moderate the change. With the new user-driven data provided by the re-orientation of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, state legislatures, local officials, resource managers, and businesses could all begin to adjust their plans to help Arizona avoid the worst of the impacts of climate change.

I take the challenge of addressing global warming very seriously, and it is one of my highest priorities in Congress. This will not only result in a stronger economy, innovative technologies, and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, but also a more stable and sustainable world.

I want to welcome our entire distinguished panel to this morning’s hearing. I look forward to your testimony and to your recommendations for improving H.R. 906.


Opening Statement By Rep. Mark Udall

Good afternoon. Thank you, Chairwoman Giffords for holding this hearing on H.R. 906, the Global Change Research and Data Management Act of 2007 that I introduced earlier this year with my colleague and our Ranking Member, Representative Inglis. I look forward to working together as this bill moves forward.

The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has been in existence in some form since the late 1970s. Support for the diverse array of climate-related sciences in the eleven agencies of the federal government has expanded our knowledge of Earth’s land, water, and atmospheric systems. The outstanding science produced by our nation’s scientific community has gained the U.S. worldwide recognition as a leader in climate science. This scientific work has been shared with the rest of the world through international scientific organizations such as the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The evolution of global science and the global change issue sparked the need to make changes to the 1978 National Climate Program Act, and gave us the Global Change Research Act of 1990. It is now time for another adjustment to alter the focus of the program governed by this law.

The debate, about whether climate change is occurring and about whether human activity has contributed to it, is over. As our population, economy, and infrastructure have grown, we have put more pressure on the natural resources we all depend upon. Each year, fires, droughts, hurricanes, and other natural events remind us of our vulnerability to extreme weather and climate changes. The human and economic cost of these events is very high. With better planning and implementation of adaptation strategies these costs can be reduced.

For all of these reasons, we need the USGCRP to produce more information that is readily useable by decision makers and resource managers in government and in the private sector. People throughout this country and in the rest of the world need information they can use to develop response, adaptation, and mitigation strategies to make our communities, our businesses, and our nation more resilient and less vulnerable to the changes that are inevitable.

We must also move aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid future increases in surface temperature that will trigger severe impacts that we cannot overcome with adaptation strategies. We need economic and technical information as well as information about system responses and climate responses to different concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The USGCRP should be the vehicle for providing this information.

We have a very distinguished panel of witnesses here today, several of whom have a great deal of experience with the USGCRP. I look forward to your testimony and welcome your suggestions for improvements to H.R. 906. Our goal is to ensure the excellent science produced by this program is expanded and translated into user-friendly information to deliver the solutions our nation needs to address the challenge of climate change.

Witnesses

Panel

5 - Dr. Philip Mote
Climatologist, State of Washington Affiliate Professor, JISAO/CSES Climate Impacts Group University of Washington Affiliate Professor, JISAO/CSES Climate Impact
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1 - Dr. Michael MacCracken
President International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences International Union of Geodosy and Geophysics International Association of Meteorolo
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2 - Dr. Jack Fellows
Vice President University Corporation for Atmospheric Research University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
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4 - Mr. Franklin Nutter
President Reinsurance Assocation of America Member, UCAR Board of Trustees Reinsurance Assocation of America Member, UCAR Board of Trustees
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6 - Ms. Sarah Bittleman
Director of Washington Office Office of the Governor of Oregon Office of the Governor of Oregon
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3 - Dr. James Mahoney
Environmental Consultant Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Deputy Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin
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Download hearing charter in PDF format.Hearing Charter

Witness Panel
Witnesses testify before the Subcommittee

L-R: Dr. MacCracken, Dr. Fellows, Dr. Mahoney, Mr. Nutter, Dr. Mote and Ms. Bittleman

For information on the witnesses, use the links at left
110th Congress