Still heating up

STILL HEATING UP…. It was one of the warmest winters ever recorded. And as Spring got underway, it was the warmest March ever recorded, too.

And the heat goes on.

Last month was the warmest March on record worldwide, based on records back to 1880, scientists reported Thursday.

Developments like these probably won’t matter on the Hill, but they should. As we’ve seen in recent months, 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.”

Of course, we can point to results like those we saw in March, but for a few too many Republican policymakers, all scientific data is part of an elaborate conspiracy/plot, and deserves to be rejected.

Nevertheless, the climate bill is moving forward. The legislation being crafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will reportedly be unveiled on April 26. The EPA and CBO will then “produce studies of its costs and effectiveness, a process that will take as much as six weeks.”

There’s limited optimism about the bill’s future, but note that policymakers may not get another chance at this for quite a while. If the GOP makes meaningful gains in the midterm elections, as seems likely, 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.

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Steve Benen

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.