Buffeted and buried by another potent noreaster, New Englanders are probably not expending much energy thinking about global warming. They should be, say a couple of lawmakers who had unsuccessfully spearheaded climate legislation last year.
Figures released today on the global climate are disturbing, say Senator John F. Kerry and Representative Edward Markey. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last year tied 2005 for the hottest year since scientists started tallying global temperatures in 1880. And government figures show it was the wettest year ever.
The data should prod action on Capitol Hill, Kerry and Markey say.
“How many times do we have to be smacked in the face with factual evidence before we address global climate change?,'' Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said in a statement. "Report after report keep confirming it’s getting worse every year. Will we find common ground and adult leadership or keep piling the science on a shelf to collect dust?”
Kerry led an exhaustive effort last year to shepherd legislation that yoked calls for increases in natural gas drilling and nuclear energy with limits on industrial carbon emissions, which most scientists say lead to global warming. Despite backing from key industries, Kerry fell short of passing the bill when Republicans united against it. They said the cap and trade provision for controlling carbon emissions was a stealth tax on businesses, a charge Kerry and supporters deny.
The new figures show 2010 was the 34th straight with global temperatures above the 20th century average; the last below-average year was 1976. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since the beginning of 2001.
Higher temperatures can do more than raise sea levels and affect farming, they serve as an incubator of more frequent -- and more severe -- thunderstorms and snowstorms, climate scientists contend.
“This is another warning siren that should serve as a wake-up call to Congress to take action to reduce dangerous carbon pollution and create clean energy jobs that reduce the impacts of climate change,” said Markey, the Malden Democrat who co-wrote comprehensive climate legislation that was narrowly passed by the House.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.