By Ben Geman - 05/17/10 04:48 PM EDT
Combined global land and ocean surface temperatures for the first four months of 2010 were the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The average combined temperature in January-April was 56 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 1.24 degrees above the 20th Century average, NOAA reported Monday. April was also the warmest individual month ever, the agency reported.
The new data is surfacing as Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) hope to gain momentum for a sweeping climate change and energy bill that imposes limits on industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
But the lawmakers have not made slowing global warming the biggest focus of their sales pitch. They are largely emphasizing the need to reduce dependence on imported oil, and millions of jobs they say will be created by boosting domestic alternative energy sectors.