HEATING UP…. As ridiculous as it sounds, cold weather and snowfall during the winter has apparently made it less likely the Senate will vote on a new energy/climate bill. Mind-numbing though it may be, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) recently said snowfall in D.C. has had an effect on policymakers’ attitudes: “It makes it more challenging for folks not taking time to review the scientific arguments.”

But in Grown-Up Land, the data is worth acknowledging.

It will probably come as a surprise to most Americans, but the winter just finished was the fifth-warmest on record, worldwide.

Sure, nearly two-thirds of the country can dispute that from personal experience of a colder-than-normal season.

But while much of the United States was colder than usual, December-February — climatological winter — continued the long string of unusual warmth on a global basis.

And parts of the United States did join in, with warmer-than-normal readings for the season in New England and the Pacific Northwest. Indeed, Maine had its third-warmest winter on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.

Of course, a few too many Republican policymakers believe all scientific data is part of an elaborate conspiracy/plot, and deserves to be rejected. Told that this winter was one of the warmest eve recorded, James Inhofe and Fox News personalities will very likely respond, “Don’t be foolish; didn’t you see the snow?”

There are still some hopes that Congress may act before the end of the year on something related to climate change, but those hopes are fading. What’s more, if the GOP makes meaningful gains in the midterm elections, it may be many years before Congress even tries to limit emissions and combat global warming, even as the threat of the crisis grows more intense.

The environmental consequences are likely to be severe and unforgiving.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.