It’s 2014. The climate is changing. The science is definitive on that. And yet, some Republican lawmakers continue to insist the whole thing is a big hoax. If you think you’re tired of it, imagine being a fellow lawmaker who has to listen to this nonsense on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that one finally snapped.
Last week, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) voted against a Senate resolution that did nothing but acknowledge that climate change was real. There were no riders. No emission cap requirements. No pollution regulations. It just said “Climate Change is real” and given that fact, it poses a threat to the United States.
According to the bill’s author Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the bill wasn’t meant to come up with solutions (the hard part), it was just supposed to be a symbolic gesture that communicated to the public that Congress was aware that there was a problem and they were going to commit themselves to finding those solutions.
But of course, nothing is ever that easy when dealing with Congress.
Inhofe, who has staked his political career on loudly suggesting that climate change isn’t real and probably invented by liberals, Obama, environmentalists, and climate scientists for unfathomable reasons, blocked the resolution. Of course, he did. Despite having zero scientific background, Inhofe lectured his fellow lawmakers about just how unreal climate change really is. He declared (without proof) that the Earth had experienced “no warming for the last 15 years” and waved around a petition from 9,000 mostly-conservative, mostly-non climate scientists attesting to the fact that climate change wasn’t happening.
Enter: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). After Inhofe had his say, Whitehouse laid into his spurious arguments as if channeling the thoughts of every sound-minded person watching Inhofe’s speech in horror. In what may go down as one of the greatest verbal take downs in Senate history, Whitehouse went to the podium, stared Inhofe in the eyes and began by saying:
“I appreciate very much having had the opportunity to hear those words, from what I can only describe as an alternate reality.”
He then followed that up with an incredibly detailed rebuttal that demolished Inhofe’s tired arguments point-by-point.
Given how comfortable he is with the subject matter, you may be forgiven in assuming that Whitehouse has a background in science, but he’s actually an attorney. Instead, Whitehouse became well-versed in climate science while he worked in Congress, quickly becoming one of the Capitol’s leading advocates for addressing climate change head on. In other words, Whitehouse listened to what scientists were telling him and, being a legislator, tried to legislate solutions.
After going through some of the evidence which leads 97 percent of climate scientists to conclude that the Earth is warming, Whitehouse addresses Inhofe’s most ludicrous accusation: Not only are scientists wrong about climate change, they are willfully perpetuating a hoax at the request of the Obama administration.
Let me tell you some of the government agencies who are so-called colluding together. How about NASA? We trust them to send our astronauts into space. We trust them to deliver a rover the size of an S.U.V. to the surface of Mars safely and drive it around, sending data and pictures back from Mars to us. You think these people know what they’re talking about? … How about the United States Navy? The commander in chief of our Pacific Command? Is he colluding when he says that? …
If you want to ignore the federal government, if you live in a world in which you think the federal government colludes with itself to make up things that aren’t true, okay. But look at the property casualty insurance and reinsurance industry. They’re the people with the biggest bet on this. They have billions of dollars riding on getting it right, and they say climate change is real, carbon pollution is causing it, we’ve got to do something about it. So does the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, because they care about the poor and the effect this will have on the people who have the least. So does every major U.S. scientific society. Every single one.
That was amazing.
Despite getting burned to a crisp, Inhofe still blocked the resolution, which required unanimous consent. Even so, thanks to people like Whitehouse who are getting better and better at effectively making climate deniers look like idiots, the needle is beginning to lean in the right direction. For that, we owe him a round of applause.