Is it Safe to Talk About Climate Change Again?


Photo via Keen Press

Over the last year or so, you may have noticed politicians using less and less direct language to discuss climate change. According to some polls, Americans were growing skeptical that man was causing global warming, a trend abetted by fierce public relations efforts from the fossil fuel industry and the Climate Gate non-scandal, which the media did a supremely poor job of covering accurately. But now, the noise from those ruckuses have faded out, and scientists are recording brand new record-shattering temperatures -- clear evidence that the warming trend is continuing. Does this mean it could soon be safe for politicians -- and the rest of us -- to talk about climate change and its solutions in an honest, serious fashion again?Al Gore, at least, thinks so. According to the Hill:

Al Gore is trying to translate new federal data on global temperatures into political momentum for climate change legislation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that worldwide temperatures for May and the January-May period were the warmest on record.

"Every month we delay work, the planet continues to warm. The Senate needs to take action on the climate bill immediately," Gore wrote on his website Thursday afternoon.

Of course, Al Gore isn't defending a seat in Congress this November, and his mission for affecting climate change has never really abated. But the man does have a point. We have now witnessed two record-breaking-ly hot months in April and May. As in the global temperatures for those months were the hottest on record. Period. NASA has also confirmed those temps.

It's going to be harder and harder for climate deniers to spin, as the evidence becomes even more crystal clear (an anomalously hot, record-breaking El Nino-fueled 1998 allowed climate deniers to claim that there had been cooling since then, as until now that record had not been broken -- though the general warming trend had continued throughout the 00s). You'll remember that even John Kerry, one of the fiercest climate policy proponents there is wormed his way out of calling his climate bill a climate bill -- the focus was heaped on cutting dependence on foreign oil and job creation.

The clearer the science gets on climate change, the easier it is for the public to digest it, the more willing our politicians will be to address the issue head-on (in most of the industrialized world, policy already has been established to do so). Of course, we'll still face the onslaught of fossil fuel industries' well-funded efforts to confound the public, and there will be politicians who will never give science the time of day.

But I'm seeing (and hopefully not being too optimistic here) a small beam of reason beginning to shine through the cloudy chaos drummed up by the noise machine. It may come too late to pass meaningful legislation this term -- and subsequently for perhaps years to come -- but when the science is this clear, and the consensus so unfaltering, it's only a matter of time. I hope.

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