Three United States senators – Sens. Lindsay Graham, Orrin Hatch andJames Inhofe – last week demonstrated continued confusion aboutthe scientific support for climate change.
Senator Graham, R-SC: “The science about global warming has changed. I think they’ve oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they’ve beenalarmist and the science is in question.”
Senator Hatch, R-Utah: “There is nowhere near a scientific consensuson either one of the EPA’s ‘findings’ that humans are causing warming or that warming is necessarily bad for the environment or for humankind.”
Senator Inhofe, R-OK: Reiterating his opposition to climate science,he said, “Many of them believe in their hearts that anthropogenic[human-caused] gases cause global warming. I do not believe that,” andrepeated his previous comment that “the notion that anthropogenic gases, that CO2 causes catastrophic global warming is the greatest hoax everperpetuated on the American people.” The senator repeated his view that climate science “has been pretty much debunked.” These statements runin opposition to the recent developments regarding climate science which have reinforced the scientific evidence of climate change. Considersome of what has transpired in the world of climate science just thisyear:
- At the request of Congress, the prestigious National Academy ofSciences (NAS) issued three reports on climate change and its impacts.The NAS said, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by humanactivities. . .and in many cases is already affecting a broad range ofhuman and natural systems.”
- The World Meteorological Association announced that 2000-2009 is the warmest decade on record.
- NASA projected that 2010 will be the warmest year on record andrecently announced that the past 12 months are the hottest consecutive12 months on record. • Recent intense episodes of flooding across theUnited States, most recently in Tennessee, are examples of extremeweather events that are consistent with the type of weather patternsdriven by human-caused climate change, as documented by climatescientists.
- The fifth U.S. Climate Action Report, one of the most significantdocuments on U.S. policy initiatives and actions to address climatechange, said, “Global warming is unequivocal and primarilyhuman-induced.” In addressing changes already underway, the report said, “Climate-related changes are already observed in the United States andits coastal waters. These include increases in heavy downpours, risingtemperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawingpermafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the ocean and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows. . . . Climate changes are already affecting water, energy, transportation, agriculture, ecosystems, and health.”
- With an expected heavy 2010 hurricane season, a recent report fromthe Environmental Protection Agency states, “…it is very likely thatincreased levels of greenhouse gases have contributed to an increase insea surface temperatures in areas where hurricanes form, suggesting ahuman contribution to hurricane activity over the last 50 years.”
- A comprehensive report in a leading medical journal, The Lancet,said, “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21stcentury.” An interagency working group of the federal government statedin a recent report: “The environmental consequences of climate change,both those already observed and those that are anticipated . . . willaffect human health both directly and indirectly.” Again, these are just some of the many scientific developments just this year. As theCongress and the Administration move toward a comprehensive climate andenergy policy, it is critical that the science of climate change and its impacts be understood and that all policymakers avoid misrepresentingor mischaracterizing the science.