Not only did 2019 barely miss out on being the hottest year ever recorded on planet Earth, but it brought to a close the hottest decade ever, according to statistics provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday.
The report from the two agencies notes that the past five years were the five hottest in the 140 years that we have been measuring the planetary temperature.
The Earth’s temperature is now 2 degrees warmer than it was, on mean, between 1951 and 1980 — evidence of the relatively rapid heating and of the lack of efficacy of attempts to slow or curtail the temperature rise.
“We crossed over into more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit warming territory in 2015 and we are unlikely to go back. This shows that what’s happening is persistent, not a fluke due to some weather phenomenon: we know that the long-term trends are being driven by the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said NASA’s Gavin Schmidt of the findings.
The starkness of the studies correlates with the rising number of people — especially Democrats — who see climate change as not just an issue but the issue of our times.
In the CNN/Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Democrats released last week, almost 7 in 10 (68%) said climate change was an “extremely important” issue in how they decided which candidate to support. (That tied it with health care in terms of issues people prioritized when picking a candidate.)
During Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, climate change was very much on the minds of the top contenders. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called it “the greatest threat facing this planet.” Businessman Tom Steyer warned that “we cannot put climate on the back seat all the time and say we’re going to sign this one more deal, we’re going to do one more thing without putting climate first.”
Heck, even President Donald Trump, who has referred to climate change as a “Chinese hoax” and a “make-believe scandal” in the past, sounded a much more realistic note recently. Asked whether he still believed his past “hoax” comments, Trump responded: “No, no. Not at all. Nothing’s a hoax. Nothing’s a hoax about that. It’s a very serious subject.”
The Point: The numbers on climate change just keep getting worse. The question is whether politicians are willing to do anything about it.