2014 hottest year on record. What's your plan, Congress?

Benjamin Schneider

What many suspected has now been confirmed: 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded. If there was ever a signal for Congress to take action and slow America’s greenhouse gas emissions, this is it.

Details in the report, which was released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, paint a bleak picture:

  • Record-high temperatures were recorded all over the globe, including a scorching summer in Australia and the hottest summer in 500 years in Europe.
  • The ocean surface was warmer than usual, which led to destructive Pacific storms.
  • In records that date back to 1880, the 10 warmest years have all been recorded since 1997 (and except for 1998, the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2000).
  • Incredibly, the record was reached in a year without El Niño, a weather event that typically contributes to high temperatures around the world.

This is the latest, clearest signal we’ve yet received that the planet is in trouble, and it won’t be the last.

From melting ice sheets to surges in extreme weather events around the globe, we’re starting to see the consequences of unchecked warming already. And we risk severe, even catastrophic, consequences if our leaders don’t do something about it.

A vast majority of Americans support broad action by our government to address climate change.

If members of the new Congress want to show they are serious about governing, they will listen to the calls of the government’s top climate experts and of everyday Americans alike. Our leaders have a responsibility to deal with this threat to the nation’s future.

While China has surpassed us as the world’s largest emitter, the United States still retains a significant lead in per-capita emissions.

It’s well past time for action. Let’s see if Congress is up to the challenge.