Some day, reporters like me will be able to write about the latest (usually bad) research into climate change without having to mention that some of the most powerful officials in the U.S. government believe the whole scientific effort is hogwash. But that day is not today.
On Nov. 12, President Barack Obama announced a sweeping carbon emissions limitation accord with China. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D–Hawaii–one of the staunchest environmentalists in the Senate–immediately called it “historic.” But U.S. Senator James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, who will most likely run the Environmental and Public Works Committee when the Republicans take over the Senate in January, gave the accord the back of his hand.
“The American people spoke against the President’s climate policies in this last election,” Inhofe told The Washington Post. “As we enter a new Congress, I will do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA’s unchecked regulations.”
And what a lovely effort that will be–especially considering that new research just released by UH Manoa indicates that the warming of our oceans is worse than ever before.
“This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started,” states a Nov. 14 UH news release. “Temperatures even exceeded those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year, according to the analysis of recent climate data by Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center at UH Mānoa.”
According to UH, global ocean temperatures actually stopped rising from 2000-2013. But in April of this year, that hiatus apparently ended, and temperatures began rising again.
“The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands,” Timmerman says in the news release. “Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska.”
The earth, as you’d expect, has plans that transcend the 2014 midterm elections.
Photo of bleached coral: Samuel Chow/Wikimedia Commons