Congress and atmospheric physics

Florida has only one member on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce:  Republican Cliff Stearns of Ocala.  Last Monday, the Democratic members of the committee proposed that Congress endorse key scientific findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a host of other scientific organizations around the world. Stearns and every other Republican committee member unanimously voted down three proposed amendments:

‘‘Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.’’

“Scientific evidence is compelling’’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions ‘‘are the root cause of recently observed climate change.”

‘‘The public health of current generations is endangered and that the threat to public health for both current and future generations will likely mount over time as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and result in ever greater rates of climate change.’’

Climate science matters to Florida because the state is at high risk from many aspects of climate change:  sea level rise, droughts, hurricanes, ocean acidification, etc.  All Democratic members of the committee voted for the amendments.  Isn’t it very odd to have a complete partisan split on a question of atmospheric physics?

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