Help Congress home in on the most important topics surrounding climate change
On Wednesday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the newest developments in the climate crisis and potential scientific solutions. If you think that Congress needs more information to tackle this pressing issue, this is your opportunity to provide data-driven questions that you think lawmakers should ask during the hearing.
Natural disasters such as widespread fires and intense hurricanes are affecting greater numbers of people each year. It is increasingly urgent that Congress is informed on the state of climate science and solutions.
This website provides you with the opportunity to tell Congress what issues should be discussed during the hearing. You can submit questions that lawmakers should ask witnesses, personal stories about your experiences related to climate change, or your general thoughts on how communities can become more resilient. You can find several sample questions below.
Main topic: The climate crisis and potential solutions
What: House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing: “An update on the climate crisis: From science to solutions
Who: The witnesses who will testify during this hearing are:
- Dr. Pamela McElwee, Associate Professor of Human Ecology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
- Dr. Richard Murray, Deputy Director & Vice President for Research, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
- Dr. Heidi Steltzer, Professor of Biology, Fort Lewis College
- Mr. Michael Shellenberger, Founder and President, Environmental Progress
- Ms. Taryn Fransen, Senior Fellow, Global Climate Program, World Resources Institute
When: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at 10:00 am ET
Where: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC / Webcast
Nonpartisan analysis and research
Sample questions for lawmakers to ask witnesses. Please share yours for lawmakers.
More sample questions will be added as objective contributions are received from the expert community. Email your submissions to us at [email protected]! Last updated Tuesday 1/14/2020.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) studies show the sea level has risen eight to nine inches since 1880 and even if we reduce our greenhouse emissions significantly, sea levels could still rise by at least one foot by 2100. In the U.S. almost 40% of the population lives on the coast and eight out of 10 of the largest cities in the world are near the coast. Rising sea levels can accelerate erosion and flooding, as well as threaten critical infrastructure in these populous areas.
What are some short-, medium-, and long-term solutions the federal government can implement to ensure our communities are resilient to the effects of rising sea levels?
When people discuss solutions to the climate crisis, renewable energies such as wind and solar are often referenced. However, nuclear energy is also a source of carbon-free electricity. According to a report from the International Energy Agency, without continued investment in the world’s existing nuclear power plants and developing new nuclear energy technologies, there is a risk of adding billions of tons of carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Without any policy changes, advanced countries like the U.S. could see a decrease of 25% in nuclear capacity by 2025 and as much as two-thirds by 2040.
Given how a decrease in nuclear energy capacity could increase emissions, , should the federal government support the development of new nuclear energy technologies in the U.S.? If so, how? If not, why not?
Scientists have warned that climate change is contributing to the devastation from fires from Australia to the Amazon, to California. The combination of record high temperatures and changes in the water cycle has resulted in less rain falling in those regions, creating a much higher risk of fires.
What are the biggest obstacles to reducing the risk of future fires? What can Congress do to encourage the adoption of practices or technologies to mitigate fire risk?
The final fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill for the Department of Energy directed the agency to spend millions of dollars to develop carbon capture technologies. These technologies, if realized, could capture over 90% of the carbon emissions from industrial facilities before emissions are released into the atmosphere. The carbon can then be reused in industry or stored underground.
Climate models, including those from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, show that carbon capture technologies are vital for mitigating the effects of climate change.
Besides increased funds, how can Congress further encourage the development and use of carbon capture technologies in the U.S.?
The UN’s Emissions Gap Report 2019, released in November, asserts that the earth is on a path to warm by 3.4 to 3.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
Do you agree with that assessment? If so, why? If your view differs substantially from those numbers, what do you think the level of warming will be by the end of the century, and what evidence do you base your figures on?
Follow-up: What would a 3 to 4 degree Celsius increase in global temperature mean for:
- inland flooding
- water supplies
- wildlife and biodiversity?
If the world does not curb its emissions, global temperatures may increase by nearly four degrees Celsius by 2100.
We must do everything possible to avoid this outcome. But if this temperature increase does come to pass, please tell us what that could mean for:
- coastal cities
- airports and other coastal infrastructure
- agricultural productivity.
In addition to making every effort to reduce emissions to prevent global temperature rise, should we prepare contingency plans for impacts of climate change that may occur? What precautions should we be taking now to prepare for a drastically warmer world, if that’s what may be coming?
Americans’ security depends on economic prosperity, health and wellness, and defense resources. All three of these are at risk due to climate change.
The US military operates at home and abroad. Please explain how an increase in global temperatures of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius by 2100 would impact the US military.
Your evidence-based question could be here!
Evolving assessments of human and natural contributions to climate change – CRS brief
Building America’s clean future: Pathways to decarbonize the economy – World Resources Institute testimony
Attaching a price to greenhouse gas emissions with a carbon tax or emissions fee: Considerations and potential impacts – Congressional Research Service brief
Advancing the science of climate change – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report
Federal supply chains: Opportunities to improve the management of climate-related risks – Government Accountability Office report
Climate change: Energy infrastructure risks and adaptation efforts – GAO report
Climate change: Evidence and causes – NASEM report
Letters and press clips
How to build a circular economy that recycles carbon – Vox piece
Climate models agree things will get bad. Capturing just how bad is tricky – Science News piece
10 energy and climate issues to watch in 2020 – Axios piece
The signal of human-caused climate change has emerged in everyday weather, study finds – Washington Post piece