The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted 98–1 to approve a resolution stating that “it is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.” Then, about 15 minutes later, the Senate rejected a second resolution that said climate change is real and caused by humans.
The first resolution was approved — and co-sponsored — by one of the most outspoken climate deniers in the Senate, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a man who literally wrote a book about how climate change is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated.” The only Senator to vote against the resolution was Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. At the last minute, right before a vote was taken, Inhofe took the floor to state that he would be co-sponsoring and approving the amendment on the grounds that yes, climate change is real, but human-caused climate change is not. “Man cannot change climate,” Inhofe said. “The hoax is that there are some people that are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful that they can change climate.”
The resolution was originally put forth by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) as an amendment to the bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. It was widely seen as a way to troll Republicans — a way for Democrats to say “Fine, if you want to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, you have to go on record about whether you think global warming is real.”
But Jim Inhofe out-trolled Sheldon Whitehouse. Jim Inhofe out-trolled us all.
Fortunately, the effort to get every Senator on the record about their stance on human-caused climate change was not all for naught. Shortly after the vote on Whitehouse’s resolution, the Senate also took up an amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), which stated that climate change is real and that humans contribute to it. That amendment failed, however, following a short speech from Sen. Lisa Murkoswki (R-AK) saying that the amendment’s inclusion of the word “significantly” — as in, humans “significantly” contribute to global warming — should warrant a “no” vote. Schatz’s amendment failed 50–49 (it needed 60 votes to pass), but it does mean that a slim majority of the U.S. Senate acknowledges that climate science is a real and valid thing.
Among the votes against Schatz’ amendment acknowledging that climate change is real were Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). Republicans who voted to say that climate change is real and significantly caused by humans included Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).