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Senate Climate Hawks Deliver Speech Calling for U.S. Action on the “Planetary Crisis of Global Warming”

By Stephen Lacey

"Senate Climate Hawks Deliver Speech Calling for U.S. Action on the “Planetary Crisis of Global Warming”"

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There was a beacon in the smog surrounding the U.S. Capitol building this week.

While the House and Senate pushed for arctic drilling, attempted to revive the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and tried to delay rules on mercury emissions standards — all while failing to extend a key tax credit for wind — four climate hawk Senators attempted to put these actions into a powerful climate context.

Standing on the Senate floor for an hour on Wednesday, Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) delivered a wide-ranging colloquy calling on the President and Congress to address the “enormous crisis” of global warming.

Here’s a great clip featuring Senators Sanders, Franken and Whitehouse:

Senator Whitehouse has delivered three great speeches on the Senate floor about global warming since October. During his last delivery in December, he was joined by Senator Franken. This time around, they brought in two more climate hawks, Senators Udall and Sanders.

Here’s a piece of the Senator Sanders’ speech:

According to virtually the entire scientific community in the United States of America and around the world, according to virtually every agency of the United States government, global warming is real and it is significantly caused by human activity. And people are mistaken if they believe that the impact of global warming will just be in decades to come. We are seeing very negative impacts today, and what the scientific community tells us, if we do not begin to reverse greenhouse gas emissions, those problems in America and around the world will only get worse.

Now, if there is a silver lining in all of that is that, Mr. President, right now, we know how to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We know how to move to energy efficiency, mass transportation, automobiles. We get 50, 60, 100 miles per gallon. We know how to weatherize our homes so that we can cut significantly the use of fuel. And what we also know is that in the middle of this recession, if we move in that direction, energy efficiency and sustainable energy, we can create over a period of years millions of good-paying jobs.

So let me conclude by saying this. We now have the opportunity to be in a win-win-win situation. We can save consumers money. We can significantly reduce greenhouse gases and protect our planet, and we can create substantial numbers of jobs that we desperately need in the midst of this terrible recession.

When is Obama going to talk like this?

‹ EXPOSED: The 19 Public Corporations Funding The Climate Denier Think Tank Heartland Institute

Canadian Minister Promotes Tar Sands At Climate Summit ›

27 Responses to Senate Climate Hawks Deliver Speech Calling for U.S. Action on the “Planetary Crisis of Global Warming”

  1. PeterW says:

    Isn’t Bernie Sanders an Independent?

    • MorinMoss says:

      Yes but as the only member who calls himself a socialist, he reliably supports or initiates actions that benefit the little people and can scarcely be faulted for not finding much common ground with the current crop of Republicans.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        Yes, but if he is a ‘Socialist’ it seems misleading to call him a ‘Democrat’, which is pretty close to the opposite, if fractionally less so than the Republicans.

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    [standing ovation for Senator Sanders]

  3. Sloop says:

    Standing ovation for Sen. Whitehouse. His understanding and commitment to the oceans is unparalleled.

    I know that he will work closely with Sen. Jack Reed of RI and other Senators to inspire sane thinking and righteous action by the Senate to help the nation face and deal with the enormous risks to its future well-being posed by climate change and ocean acidification.

  4. prokaryotes says:

    btw. What happened to this?

    Climate Hawk Sheldon Whitehouse Introduces Climate Resilience Legislation

    With incidents of prolonged drought, rising sea levels, and flooding on the rise, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill on Wednesday to require federal natural resource agencies to plan for the long-term effects of climate change, and encourage states to prepare natural resources adaptation plans. http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/11/17/370595/climate-hawk-sheldon-whitehouse-introduces-climate-resilience-legislation/

  5. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama doesn’t have what it takes to give a speech like Sanders’ or Whitehouse. It’s hard to say whether he’s bought, but the president is definitely intimidated.

    He needs to change from within. Stranger things have happened- remember Nixon going to China, and signing EPA? If that character can have an attack of conscience, Obama should certainly be capable of it.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It’s not so much that Obama has been ‘bought’ (his reward comes after office, like Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and a couple of Australian ‘Labor’ PMs I can think of). No, he has been groomed. Spotted at college, employed, financed throughout his political career, and set a number of tasks to ascertain his reliability. The US ruling caste probably have thousands of these operatives being trialled at any time, and those who show loyalty and usefulness can go far, as Obama has. He knows the penalty for betraying his Masters, as well.

    • josh says:

      Nice to see some bright lights in the usual murkiness of the American Senate.

      Now if only Obama would orient himself in the vein of these senators rather than in the pocket of the large energy firms, we might have a real spark

  6. M Tucker says:

    Just saw a report about a comment President Obama made during his Thursday San Francisco fundraiser. He is quoted as saying, “We’re going to deal with climate change in a serious way. And we’re going to have to figure out how to pay for all this stuff.” So he is planning something for the second term. He will not make this a big issue because as we all know the subject scares him (the disaster that cannot be named). He does not believe most Americans would support a climate bill and I doubt he will make it a big campaign issue. I think he seriously wants to avoid the inevitable conservative media backlash and he does not want to encourage the Republican leadership in the Congress to attack him on this subject. I seriously doubt he believes it is a winning wedge issue and, after all, the Republican candidates and congressional Republicans have handed him a few wedge issues already that he seems much more comfortable with.

    • Gestur says:

      I think that waiting until a second term before Obama begins to champion climate change—if that’s what he’s going to do in this campaign—will simply be too late to allow meaningful limits on carbon emissions to be passed anytime in a second term. My reasoning is straightforward: if as head of the Democratic ticket and possibly a popular candidate Obama doesn’t run for reëlection advocating aggressive policies to counter climate change, he won’t provide any real encouragement, cover or coattails for Democratic members of Congress to aggressively campaign on this issue as well. And since every Democratic member of the House and one-third of the Senate will themselves be up for reëlection in just two years after the Presidential election, what’s the likelihood of them all of a sudden coming out strongly in support of meaningful policies to address climate change when they haven’t run on those positions? To me, this is just Realpolitik. A president builds support in the country and in Congress for his policies by aggressively running on them. If it turns out that he isn’t able to win that support, well, them’s the cards this country has dealt us. But not running on those policies is, in my opinion, a virtual guarantee for no action after the election.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      It’s just pre-election chatter, to suck the Hope Fiends in again. Words uttered now are of no value compared to actions after the election. And in any case, if Obama really and honestly comprehends our situation, he would be making it the central obsession of his administration, if only for his own daughters’ sake.

  7. Gail Zawacki says:

    Wow, some courageous souls in government actually get it. I’m impressed. What can we do to support them?

    • R. Shamel says:

      Dear Gail,

      You know what to do.

      Google these modern American Senate heroes to get their contact information, then call or write them to thank them for having the courage to speak up about this life-and-death topic, encouraging them to do more.

      Every single caring reader of Climate Progress should take five minutes to do this (please).

      Our timid congressman hushed us when we mentioned “climate change” in his hallway, saying, “We don’t talk about that around here.” Holy cow! Is it any wonder that US climate progress is so damn slow?

      Also, let’s get Obama to speak up about it. Call him, M-F, 9-5, at 202-456-1111, or sign http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-speak-up-about-climate to embolden him.

      And keep up the great Wit’s End blog, too.

      Warm regards,
      Roger

  8. TKPGH says:

    I had hoped that the showdown on climate change and ocean acidification would happen this year. With the Climate Hawks pushing in the Senate amd Obama losing a major west coast funder in Suzie Buell, it just might happen. The thing I can’t figure out is why they wouldn’t use this as a means to bludgeon the entire GOP. Romney is a climate coward. Santorum, in calling climate change a hoax, is, in effect, calling the Vatican a bunch of liars. If Obama made the case, I think it would improve his standing with the public (by showing real leadership) and give his opponents a real political headache.
    If only…

  9. Lore says:

    I love that Bernie Sanders guy,… He always speaks the truth. Makes me want to move to Vermont just to be under his wing.

  10. John Tucker says:

    Even if warming becomes popularly real most reasonable mitigating solutions are already sinking in the political swamp.

    Even reasonable politicians like Sanders need to think and advocate very carefully.

  11. fj says:

    And,next time have 8 climate hawks, then 16, then 32 and doubling thereafter, and more stuff whenever some inane plans are made for the future and climate change is not seriously part of them.

    The knee-jerk is to leave climate change out of plans for even the near future and this is plain stupid.

  12. Tim says:

    Bernie Sanders conclusion,

    We now have the opportunity to be in a win-win-win situation. We can save consumers money. We can significantly reduce greenhouse gases and protect our planet, and we can create substantial numbers of jobs that we desperately need in the midst of this terrible recession.

    would be a no-brainer political position if our system weren’t hamstrung by the corruption of fossil fuel interests. It really is an obvious win-win-win course of action.

  13. sailrick says:

    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for president in 2016

    Hey he has the right name too.

  14. sailrick says:

    This is at least an encouraging footnote on this story.

    “Republicans for Environmental Protection re: Heartland”

    http://planet3.org/2012/02/17/republicans-for-environmental-protection-re-heartland/

  15. Will Fox says:

    Bernie Sanders – the voice of reason, in a sea of insanity.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Now, Will-don’t pick on the sea. It’s more a sewer, a man-made mire festering with rank and malodorous human discharges.

  16. Mark says:

    The words were nice, but did you notice all the empty seats? Almost looks like the place had

    4 Senators;
    47 staff;
    and the midnight janitorial crew

    Sorry, just sayin’….. look at all the empty seats