U.S. Senator: Washington’s Failure To Act On Climate Change Is Blameworthy & The Consequences Profound

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave a powerful speech in the U.S. Senate last week, making a thorough  and well-supported argument for immediate comprehensive action to mitigate the effects of human-caused climate destabilization and ocean acidification:


Here are some excerpts from the transcript:

Mr. President, I am here to speak about what is currently an unpopular topic in this town. It has become no longer politically correct in certain circles in Washington to speak about climate change or carbon pollution or how carbon pollution is causing our climate to change.

   This is a peculiar condition of Washington. If you go out into, say, our military and intelligence communities, they understand and are planning for the effects of carbon pollution on climate change. They see it as a national security risk. If you go out into our nonpolluting business and financial communities, they see this as a real and important problem. And, of course, it goes without saying our scientific community is all over this concern. But as I said, Washington is a peculiar place, and here it is getting very little traction.

   Here in Washington we feel the dark hand of the polluters tapping so many shoulders. And where there is power and money behind that dark hand, therefore, a lot of attention is paid to that little tap on the shoulder. What we overlook is that nature–God’s Earth–is also tapping us all on the shoulder, with messages we ignore at our peril. We ignore the messages of nature–of God’s Earth–and we ignore the laws of nature–of God’s Earth–at our very grave peril.

There is a wave of very justifiable economic frustration that has swept through our Capitol. The problem is that some of the special interests–the polluters–have insinuated themselves into that wave, sort of like parasites that creep into the body of a host animal, and from there they are working terrible mischief. They are propagating two big lies. One is that environmental regulations are a burden to the economy and we need to lift those burdens to spur our economic recovery. The second is the jury is still out on climate changes caused by carbon pollution, so we don’t need to worry about it or even take precautions.

   Both are, frankly, outright false.

…Unless action is taken now, the consequences of our activities are at a high risk of causing, through the combined effects of climate change, overexploitation, pollution and habitat loss, the next globally significant extinction event in the ocean.

   The laws of physics and the laws of chemistry and the laws of science these are laws of nature. These are laws of God’s Earth. We can repeal some laws around here but we can’t repeal those. Senators are used to our opinions mattering a lot around here, but these laws are not affected by our opinions. These laws do not care who peddles influence, how many lobbyists you have or how big your corporate bankroll is. Those considerations, so important in this town, do not matter at all to the laws of nature.

   As regards these laws of nature, because we can neither repeal nor influence them, we bear a duty, a duty of stewardship to see and respond to the facts that are before our faces according to nature’s laws. We bear a duty to shun the siren song of well-paying polluters. We bear a duty to make the right decisions for our children and grandchildren and for our God-given Earth.

   Right now I must come before the Chamber and remind this body that we are failing in that duty. The men and women in this Chamber are indeed catastrophically failing in that duty. We are earning the scorn and condemnation of history–not this week, perhaps, and not next week. The spin doctors can see to that. But ultimately and assuredly, the harsh judgment that it is history’s power to inflict on wrong will fall upon us. The Supreme Being who gave us this Earth and its abundance created a world not just of abundance but of consequence and that Supreme Being gave us reason to allow us to plan for and foresee the various consequences that those laws of nature impose.

   It is magical thinking to imagine that somehow we will be spared the plain and foreseeable consequences of our failure of duty. There is no wizard’s hat and wand with which to wish this away. These laws of nature are known; the Earth’s message to us is clear; our failure is blameworthy; its consequences are profound; and the costs will be very high.

To read the full transcript, go to the PDF of the Congressional Record (Senator Whitehouse’s address starts in the 3rd column of  S6477) or projectquipu.net

If you’d like to send Senator Whitehouse a note thanking him for his courage in standing up to powerful polluters, his address is:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Hart Senate Office Building
Room 717
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: 202-224-2921
Fax: 202-228-6362
(and by the way, today – October 20th – is his birthday, if you want to include that in your message!)

The Climate Killers

Check out this excellent article from last week’s Rolling Stone magazine, The Climate Killers: Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming. Author Tim Dickinson lists, for example, “The Profiteer”  (Warren Buffet), “The Disinformer” (Rupert Murdoch whose News Corp empire includes Fox ‘News’), and “God’s Denier” (Senator James Inhofe).

One response to the disinformation and lies being spread by the deniers is suggested on “Climate Change Advocates of Cincinnati” blog. It advocates a “climate change info war offensive” be initiated.  Here’s some of the article;

We are at war.  We are at war with the fossil fuel lobby.  We are at war with the climate change deniers and liars who are getting paid by the fossil fuel lobby.  The existence of humanity is at stake.  We can’t win a war on the defensive, which is how NGOs and scientists have tried to wage this war for the most part.  As someone trained by the US Army in psychological operations, my suggestion is that we take the battle to the deniers and liars.

We know who the most effective, consistent, and popular deniers and liars are:  Inhofe, Patrick Michaels, George Will, etc.  My suggestion is to have all the civil society groups who attended COP15 agree on a list: ‘Ten Most Wanted Climate Change Deniers and Liars for Crimes Against Humanity’ (and yes, I think ‘deniers and liars’ should be branded to these people’s names every time civil society groups refer to them).

Once this list is compiled, these climate killers should feel the heat, through emails, faxes, phone calls, letters, and protests:

from every corner of the globe, every waking moment, the ‘Ten Most Wanted Climate Deniers and Liars’ need to feel the pressure,…

If these people, who are motivated by greed, can put the huge effort they are into spreading lies and disinformation, surely members of civil societies across the globe who are motivated by “the passionate desire to tell the truth in an attempt to prevent pain and suffering on a scale and scope, and for a time span, never before imagined”, can also put as much or more effort into telling the truth?