February 23, 2009

Climate scientist to testify to Congress

A Union of Concerned Scientists climate expert is to testify before a congressional committee this week after U.S. President Barack Obama's speech to Congress.

The UCS, a non-profit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world, said the president's Tuesday address will likely focus on climate and energy policy and congressional committees in both houses of Congress will have hearings on climate science and policy the following day.

This is a critical time. We need members of Congress and the new president to commit to making deep and rapid reductions in global warming pollution, said Brenda Ekwurzel, a UCS climate scientist who will testify at the U.S. House of Representatives hearing along with National Aeronautics and Space Administration climate scientist James Hansen.

Given the urgent need to reduce emissions, we need President Obama to become the educator in chief on climate change, she said.

Ekwurzel said she will tell the House committee that sea level is rising faster than projected and is expected to increase, the Arctic is losing summer sea ice more rapidly than expected and oceans are becoming warmer and more acidic, which hinders their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Ekwurzel said she will urge the lawmakers to commit the United States to reducing heat-trapping emissions at least 80 percent below current levels by 2050, as well as requiring significant short-term emission reductions.