Senators ignore the warning signs
Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room.
Recently, the United States Senate has taken several votes on building a green economy that moves away from fossil fuel dependence, creates new green industry, and addresses global warming. Each time, a minority of senators blocked the way. On Friday, 38 senators filibustered mandatory greenhouse-gas reduction legislation (S. 3036). This morning, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) joined 41 Republicans to filibuster the Consumer-First Energy Act (S. 3044), which would have given consumers relief by placing a windfall tax on oil companies. Then 44 Republican senators blocked consideration of the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act (H.R. 6049) to extend renewable energy and other tax incentives.
Meanwhile, the signs of the looming climate crisis abound. Extreme weather of all kinds — freak snowstorms, extended droughts, heat waves, flash floods — are causing havoc around the nation, and conservative neglect is leaving us unprepared and unable to rebuild:
- On May 25, “the strongest tornado to scour Iowa’s gentle landscape in 32 years” destroyed a third of the town of Parkersburg, killing eight people.
- On May 30, a tornado destroyed 11 homes and left 65,000 people without power in Indiana.
- On June 6, tornadoes, hail, and flooding destroyed homes and washed out roads in Minnesota. North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley declared a state of emergency as extended drought kindled a massive wildfire in the eastern part of the state.
- On June 7, flooding in Indiana killed two people, including a man who drowned in his vehicle. Another person was reported missing after falling off a boat. Nearly a third of Indiana’s counties were declared disaster areas today after flood levels rose higher than the The Great Flood of 1913, breaching levees and inundating entire towns.
- On June 8, violent storms killed eight people in Michigan, including two newspaper workers who drowned when their car became submerged in a flood-swollen creek. Two other people were killed by falling trees, one man drowned, and a woman died when high winds blew an RV on top of her. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power after storms dumped five inches of rain in six hours. Lightning struck a pavilion at a state park in Connecticut during a violent storm, killing one person and injuring four.
- On June 9, floodwaters breached a dam on Lake Delton, Wisconsin, as Gov. Jim Doyle declared a state of emergency in the southern half of Wisconsin. The “unusual spring heat wave” caused blackouts in Brooklyn and New Jersey. A new crop of thunderstorms knocked out power in Indiana for thousands of Indianapolis-area residents.
- Today, a freak June snowstorm caused whiteout conditions on Oregon roads, forcing truckers to use chains to navigate the five inches of new snow.
Summer officially begins on June 20.
In 2007, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported [PDF] that it is “very likely” that human-made global warming will bring an “increase in frequency of hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation.” The panel of scientists and government officials also found:
Altered frequencies and intensities of extreme weather, together with sea level rise, are expected to have mostly adverse effects on natural and human systems.