Excerpt from the opening statement from Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, at a May 6 hearing:
Those who deny global warming point to past uncertainties that have been refuted. They ignore the overwhelming observational evidence that the increased levels of heat-trapping pollution are already warming the planet. Instead of trying to understand the science, they use stolen emails about analysis of tree rings in Siberia to turn an honest discussion into a Russian Tree Ring Circus. Or they manufacture a cooling trend by cherry picking a few years out of a longer record of warming temperatures.
While the deniers hope to confuse the public, the real world consequences of inaction mount. Over the weekend, killer storms blew through Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. In Nashville, nearly 13 inches of rain fell in just over two days time – almost doubling the previous record that fell in the aftermath of a hurricane in 1979.
These storms follow the wettest March on record in Boston. Two 50-year storms occurred within 2 weeks of each other. The National Guard was mobilized. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes. The region suffered millions of dollars in damages.
No single rainstorm can be attributed to climate change. Nor can a snowstorm disprove its existence. But the underlying science and the observed trends do point to more extreme weather events, especially heavy precipitation events because a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture.
Extreme rainfall is just one of the consequences of the carbon pollution we are releasing into the air. Our witnesses today will explain how science has revealed this unseen pollution for what it is and discuss the very real consequences of its continuing accumulation in the atmosphere.
As we approach summer, our clean energy debate needs to acknowledge what many would like to deny. Our dependence on oil carries with it national security, economic and environmental risks. As gas prices rise and the oil slick spreads, perhaps we will finally acknowledge that we cannot drill our way to independence. We have less than 3 percent of proven oil reserves. Perhaps we can also acknowledge the basic facts that have been known for decades—increasing carbon pollution in the atmosphere is warming the planet and that the only way to put a halt to such warming is to move to clean energy solutions.
I thought it a close call, too — but at some point, the predictions of more storms and more vI’iolent storms (“deeper” storms?) has to play out some where. Can we say for certain this was the storm? No. But several of them in three years should be a hint. How many times did the apple have to fall before Newton took the hint?
I’m reminded about the difference between epidemiology and finding tort liability. When we worked the fallout damage from atom bomb tests, in Southern Utah, the tort specialists all agreed that there is absolutely no way to pin blame, even for a radiogenic cancer, in any one patient. But the epidemiologists were happy to point out that in a population where we should have found two cancers of a particular type, and we found 20 instead, 18 of those cancers were caused by the excess radiation.
Tobacco companies played those figures against victims just as the government played them against the fallout victims. In this case, we all are the victims of inaction.
Markey properly notes the trend, and denialists like the mad Christopher Monckton cheerily dismiss them, especially in each specific. It’s a shell game, and we don’t need to fall sucker to it every time.
But I have to protest his use of specific storms as evidence, after critiquing denialists for cherry-picking data.
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