Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen stressed the urgency of understanding climate change and dismissed Trump administration efforts to ban the term as “all nonsense.”
The Democrat, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told the University Space Research Association’s inaugural Earth From Space Institute symposium on Oct. 30 that climate change should be a regular part of the federal government’s conversations, especially regarding the budget.
The two-day symposium, titled “Making Communities More Resilient to Extreme Flooding,” brought together scientists from around the world to brainstorm ways to salvage areas that are hardest hit by flooding and to prevent future damage.
“On Capitol Hill, they say we have a lot of commotion but not necessarily a lot of forward motion,” Van Hollen said. “But here you’re working on very important efforts and projects for the United States and other parts of the world.”
Van Hollen expressed his frustration with how some of his colleagues in Congress discuss climate change — or rather, ignore it — citing reports that some federal departments had banned using the term.
“This is all nonsense. We have to protect the integrity of the scientific enterprise,” he said emphatically.
“There are a lot of people in Congress who totally have your back,” the senator said. “We will be the first to call out any efforts to penalize scientists.”
Van Hollen said he’s worked to do just that, bringing lawmakers’ attention to space-based, national and local methods to combat climate change.
“With a changing climate we can expect more disasters, more extreme weather, and we’ll need to use this data more and more from our satellites and space-based instruments to address challenges in our communities,” the senator said.
Van Hollen also highlighted the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and rebuilding towns after flooding, such as Ellicott City, which has been hammered with two catastrophic floods in the last four years.
Officials and residents have debated the utility of rebuilding the downtown and Van Hollen said decisions must encompass sustainable infrastructure and “resilient” rebuilding.