Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.
The heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts scorching the United States may not just be a fluke. According to scientists from the U.N.’s climate body, the freak weather across America is a direct result of climate change.
In the first congressional hearing on climate science in more than two years, scientists from the IPCC told lawmakers that man-made climate change is one of the culprits behind the streak of strange weather seen all around the country lately.*
"It is critical to understand that the link between climate change and the kinds of extremes that lead to disaster is clear," Christopher Field, a leading IPCC scientist, told lawmakers. Climate experts at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing pointed to the number of natural disasters the United States has had lately, the Guardian recaps: In 2011, there were 14 major, billion-dollar weather events, well surpassing the previous record of nine.
The last time an IPCC scientist appeared before the committee was in February 2009, but legislative action on climate change was quickly halted by the partisan divide on the issue.
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, a leading skeptic of climate change, protested the hearing, telling the committee, "The global warming movement has completely collapsed."
Indeed, Obama’s climate change agenda was left in the dust near the beginning of his presidency. But environmental advocates hope to revitalize the movement, Bloomberg reports. “The whole world is debating global warming," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who has made something of a mission out of refuting Inhofe’s claims. "We can’t run away from the issue. We need to put it front and center."
*Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as the ICPP.