Yesterday, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies released the results of its study of the climate statistics of the first decade of this century. What it found was that the last 10 years have been the warmest decade ever recorded. Furthermore, 2009 turns out to have been the 2nd warmest year since global temperatures began to be recorded about 130 years ago.
Public relations efforts aligned with big industry polluters have attempted to manipulate short-term temperature data in order to create the appearance of a climatic global cooling. They have seized upon 2008 in particular, which was the coolest year in the last ten years. However, brief fluctuations in weather fit within larger trends of climate. James Hansen, Director of the Institute, explains, “There’s substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Niño-La Niña cycle. But when we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find that global warming is continuing unabated.”
It is a tragic irony, therefore, that on the very same day that updated, strengthened evidence for continued global warming was released, a coalition of U.S. Senators was leading an effort to block government action to bring global warming and other aspects of climate change under control. Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced S.J. Res. 26, a resolution disapproving of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants.
The resolution is a thinly veiled effort to delay government action to deal with the growing climate crisis. Murkowski made a brief statement of abstract support for some sort of eventual action to deal with climate, but then firmly placed her coalition in opposition to any regulation to bring about climate improvement. “If you truly believe that EPA climate regulations are good for the country, then vote to oppose our resolution. But if you share our concerns, and believe that climate policy should be debated in Congress, then vote with us to support it,” she said.
Though Murkowski’s suggests that climate policy has not been debated in Congress, the exact opposite is true. Climate policy has been debated in Congress for over twenty years, without any significant congressional action on the issue. The problem isn’t a lack of debate. The problem is that Congress has avoided taking responsibility for finding a solution for the climate crisis for an entire generation. In the meantime, climate change has transitioned from an abstract, future threat into a proven, present danger that is putting life on Earth at risk and depleting the wealth of people all over the planet. The EPA has been forced to act because Congress has refused to take action.
Remarkably, 39 members of the United States Senate chose to stand with Lisa Murkowski, in opposition to responsible efforts to slow climate change. These senators, who have chosen to align themselves with the short-term corporate profits, sacrificing the long-term well being of the nation as a whole, are the following: