In an effort to support the E.P.A.’s regulatory power, committee Democrats rounded up five eminent academic climatologists who defended the scientific consensus that the planet is warming and that human activities like the burning of fossil fuels are largely responsible. The professors called for swift and concerted action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, although they did not endorse any particular policy means for achieving them.
The Republicans countered with two scientific witnesses who said that while there was strong evidence of a rise in global surface temperatures, the reasons were murky and any response could have adverse unintended effects. Another scientist said that the E.P.A.’s decision to ban the pesticide DDT 40 years ago had led to a huge increase in death and disease in the developing world.
Representative Jay Inslee, Democrat of Washington, is one of Congress’s most ardent advocates of strong action to combat global warming. Mr. Inslee brought to the hearing a two-foot-high stack of books and scientific reports, which he placed on his desk as a sort of totem of the robust science behind climate-change theory.
He used his question time largely to criticize Republicans as suffering from what he called an “allergy to science and scientists.” He said he was embarrassed that a country that sent a man to the moon and mapped the human genome could be on the verge of enacting a law that overturns a scientific finding based on the testimony of a few scientists who question the extent of human responsibility for altering the climate.
“If Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were testifying today,” Mr. Inslee said, “the Republicans would not accept their views until all the Arctic ice has melted and hell has frozen over, whichever comes first.”