Chairman Rockefeller's Remarks on Climate Services: Solutions from Commerce to Communities

July 30, 2009

Our climate shapes every aspect of our lives. It determines where we build our roads and homes. It affects our health and it controls the amount of energy we need. Over one-third of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product is affected by weather and climate. 
Climate change is happening—the scientists agree—we have observed rising temperatures and sea levels, reduced snow and ice, longer growing seasons, and changes in river flow.
These challenges continue to grow, but so does our knowledge of the climate system and the reach of our scientific research.
We have a responsibility to share that knowledge widely and put it to use—and that is the focus of this hearing today.  The facts.
We continue to learn so much about our climate. Everyday, dedicated scientists and entrepreneurs explain new challenges and highlight new opportunities. It gives me tremendous hope.
However, the reality is that unless that information reaches the people who are confronting climate change on the frontlines, it will have been for naught. It is time to take science out of the laboratories and bring it into our communities.
This is about putting climate science to work in people’s lives:  to protect public health by predicting the spread of infectious diseases due to a changing climate; to anticipate droughts and take actions to reduce their economic and environmental impacts; and to adjust our building codes to withstand increased storm intensity and flooding.
It is also about making those tools and the climate science behind them available, transparent and useful to everyday Americans.
This hearing’s purpose—and a top priority of this committee—is to make sure the essential facts, most important research, and latest technology that have come directly from sound climate science finds its way directly to the people who can put it to work at every level.
That means community advocates and business leaders, public, private and government entities, and local, state, and federal lawmakers. 
I would like to also note that when it comes to climate change, the Commerce Committee has a long history at this crucial intersection where science meets policy – and the hard work of making a difference begins.
And so today I look forward to discussing these great challenges and the Federal government’s work to translate climate science into information and services for users to plan for and respond to climate change. 
The Department of Commerce through efforts like the National Climate Service and the Office of Science and Technology Policy continue to look for innovative new ways to share information and address mounting public needs. I am confident their leadership will bring the best research and latest technology front and center.
I am deeply honored to welcome our two witnesses to the Committee:
As the former two-term governor of the nation’s most trade-dependent state, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke brings a valuable insight to the challenge of facing climate change on the global stage.
As Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren is charged with a broad mandate of developing and implementing sound science and technology policies and budgets, collaborating across agencies while engaging the wider science and engineering communities in that mission.
Together, I hope we can look specifically at bringing all of our stakeholders to the table, helping them stay competitive in emerging markets, and making sure they are invested in our energy future.
This hearing is a great opportunity to highlight how sound climate science can drive our economy and empower stakeholders with the tools to respond and thrive. Thank you.