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!)

Quarantine the Kochs: Billionaire Brothers Associated With One Political Scandal After Another Now Infecting Canada

Rachel Maddow on the Koch brothers, the U.S. billionaires who are using their money to oppose action on climate change, clean energy, and environmental regulation:

“[The Koch brothers] names pop up in every scummy political scandal, one after another. From the wisconsin union busting and the phony astroturf bus tours to the questionable partiality of the American Supreme Court Justices. It feels like every time a really gross new political scandal erupts, big or small, there’s the Koch brothers, with a chair pulled up to the table….every time you turn over a political rock, there they are…


The campaign to boycott these toxic brothers is growing.  For more information, go to the “Boycott and Defeat Koch Industries” page on Facebook, or to go How You Can Boycott the Kochs on alternet.org

Need any more reasons to boycott the Kochs?  Here’s U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) thanking David Koch for supporting his election in 2010 and making a plea for help in his re-election campaign next year.


And now, the Koch brothers are infecting Canada, in (where else?) the Alberta tar sands. Check out Koch Brothers Set Up Shop In Tar Sands Territory. But that’s not all – their oily tentacles have reached my home province, Ontario, as well: Koch Brothers Continue Their Canadian Takeover

More links:

‘War on Science’:  Committee From Koch Votes To Deny Climate Change

Waxman: All That Seems to Matter is What Koch Industries Think

The Koch Brothers Exposed: It’s Time To Quarantine Their Corporate Sickness That’s Infecting Democracy

The Koch brothers have contributed nearly $50 million to organizations that deny climate change. In total, they have spent over $324 million dollars for political gain. They are undermining democracy, and the fight to establish a sustainable world for our children and grandchildren, with their dirty money.

Common Cause, which is leading the campaign to unmask the secretive brothers and their war against democracy, put it this way:

Our take is that Americans are suffering. They’re out of jobs, losing their homes, unable to afford health care and worried about the future. Meanwhile, an elite few like the Kochs are taking tighter control of our government by tapping vast corporate profits to influence public policy…This infection of the body politic is driven by a handful of big corporations and greedy billionaires like the Koch brothers.

Be part of the cure! Help us quarantine this corporate sickness and stop it from spreading further and deeper into our democracy.


How do you and I boycott the Koch brothers, to hit them where it hurts them the most, in their pocket books? While their major holdings are difficult to boycott, other than promotion of clean energy and environmental laws (which is why they have been using their money to fund politicians and astroturf groups that oppose these common-sense proposals), here is a list of products that you should never buy again:

Angel Soft toilet paper

Brawny paper towels

Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups

Mardi Gras napkins and towels

Quilted Northern toilet paper

Soft ‘n Gentle toilet paper

Sparkle napkins

Vanity fair napkins

Zee napkins

Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes

All Georgia-Pacific lumber and building products, including:

Dense Armor Drywall and Decking

ToughArmor Gypsum board

Georgia pacific Plytanium Plywood


Densglass sheathing

G/P Industrial plasters (some products used by a lot of crafters)

FibreStrong Rim board

G/P Lam board

Blue Ribbon OSB Rated Sheathing

Blue Ribbon Sub-floor

DryGuard Enhanced OSB

Nautilus Wall Sheathing

Thermostat OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing

Broadspan Engineered Wood Products

XJ 85 I-Joists

FireDefender Banded Cores

FireDefender FS

FireDefender Mineral Core

Hardboard and Thin MDF including Auto Hardboard

Perforated Hardboard and Thin MDF

Wood Fiberboard
Commercial Roof Fiberboard
Hushboard Sound Deadening Board
Regular Fiberboard Sheathing
Structural Fiberboard Sheathing

INVISTA Products:

COMFOREL® fiberfill
COOLMAX® fabric
CORDURA® fabric
DACRON® fiber
SOLARMAX® fabric
SOMERELLE® bedding products
SUPPLEX® fabric
TACTEL® fiber
TACTESSE® carpet fiber
TERATE® polyols
TERATHANE® polyether glycol
PHENREZ® resin
POLARGUARD® fiber and
LYCRA® fiber

For more information, go to How You Can Boycott the Kochs or find the “Boycott and Defeat the Kochs” page on Facebook – it now has nearly 18,000 members.

More links:

Go to Kochbrothersexposed.com to learn more about the Brave New Foundation’s campaign, and to become a producer by donating $25 or more.

Money in Politics: About the Koch Brothers

Koch Brothers Feel the Heat in D.C., as Broad Coalition Readies Creative Action To Quarantine the Billionaires Gathering in California Desert

Senator Scott Brown begs David Koch for Money

Climate Change In The News

Here’s a few of the articles that I’ve been reading lately:

Global Warming Confuses Americans on CBC.ca:

According to a study by Yale University researchers, 63 per cent of U.S. citizens believe that global warming exists. However, only 57 per cent know what the greenhouse effect is and only 45 per cent recognize the impact of carbon dioxide in trapping the earth’s heat.

Seventy-five per cent of those surveyed said they would like to know more about the phenomenon and 75 per cent believe that schools should teach children about the issue.
It does make you wonder why so many of the Republicans running in the senate race are anti-science climate change deniers, and why they are doing so well. Here’s a fresh post from Grist on this topic:

The Climate Post: Psychoanalyzing the GOP’s flourishing climate skepticism

A column in the National Journal points out the GOP is the only conservative party in the developed world in which denial of basic climate science is endemic, but one of The New York Times’s token conservative commentators counters that this is only because political parties in Europe aren’t as responsive to their constituents, who tend to be no more skeptical of man-made global warming than Americans.

Climate activist Bill McKibben says it’s all about money; others believe action on climate change would be almost impossible even if the GOP were more like conservative parties elsewhere.

Read the full story on Grist.org

And my favourite read in a long time, from George Monbiot, The Values of Everything, on why Progressive causes are failing and how they could be turned around:

So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.

The acceptance of policies which counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us?

The answer, I think, is provided by the most interesting report I have read this year. Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology. It offers, I believe, a remedy to the blight which now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change.

Read the full article on Monbiot.com

And last but not least, some good news out of Montreal via The Happy Wanderer blog:

In Montreal the mayor Gerald Tremblay has put out his new green plan for the city. In Montreal we are going way beyond our provinces GHG emission reduction. Reducing 30% of the GHG by 2020 rather than the Quebec 20% by 2020. Both these targets are great, and are very ambitious. With more cycling opportunities renovating buildings to be more energy-efficient and much more. Quebec is moving forward while Harper is taking us back with his so-called “Eco plan”…

Click here to read more on The Happy Wanderer

Now I’m off to the all-candidates meeting for our municipal election, which is coming up on October 25th. Think global, act local, right?

21st Century Flat Earthers – Climate Change Deniers

Here’s a recent video from the U.S.-based League of Conservation Voters:

A disturbing trend has emerged among many Republican Senate candidates: a refusal to accept the sound and settled science that man-made carbon pollution is causing the planet to warm. If these candidates win in November, the number of card-carrying members of this “Flat Earth Society” will rise exponentially in the world’s greatest deliberative body. Take action: pledge, share, vote at www.flatearth.tv.

More links:


Skeptical Science

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “America… Should Never Be On Its Knees Before Corporate Power, No Matter How Strong”

This is a followup to my earlier post on Senator Whitehouse’s speech on corporate corruption of the government agencies intended to oversee them. The following video is the first 7 minutes of his speech:


Thanks to Dante Ryel for sharing this link.

Gulf Oil Spill May Far Exceed BP’s Estimates, Now Much Bigger Than Exxon Valdez Disaster

According to experts commissioned by National Public Radio in the U.S., the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico may be at least 10 times the size of official estimates.

This just in from NPR:

At NPR’s request, experts examined video that BP released Wednesday. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that.

Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry.

A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent.

Given that uncertainty, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note that it’s not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

Click here to read the full story and listen to the interview on NPR.

Meanwhile, yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Lautenberg (New Jersey) asked unanimous consent to raise liability cap on oil companies, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) objected! The Alaskan senior senator blocked the legislation that would have dramatically increased liability caps on oil companies, in the wake of one of the industry’s biggest disasters.

In honour of Ms. Murkowski’s jaw-dropping defense of Big Oil, I’m reposting this video from “Polluter Harmony”,  Even Environment-Hating Politicians Need to Feel Loved.