Senate Dems 15 Hour Overnight Speech About Climate Change: But No Concrete Action
Last night, 28 Democratic Senators worked in shifts to discuss the necessity for action against climate change during an event organized by the recently-formed Senate Climate Action Task Force. In a scene reminiscent of the classic political comedy “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the speakers mostly presented to an empty room, (in the film, the naïve Senator filibusters against corruption, reads from the Constitution, and talks about American ideals for almost 24 hours). According to Senate records, this is only the 35th time since 1915 that there has been an all-night session.
Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, launched the task force in January with the support of 16 other Democrats. The Senate Climate Action Task Force’s agenda “includes thwarting efforts to undermine President Obama’s climate change initiative, protecting states that have instituted carbon taxes from any congressional attempts to thwart them and promoting energy efficiency in federal buildings and better fuel economy,” according to a Jan 9 article from the Washington Post.
Before the marathon of speeches began, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-KY, took to the floor to denounce the event. He made the argument that the coal industry, which is a major source of employment and economic growth in his home state, would suffer if it were were regulated. Two other Republicans spoke about the event on the floor, but most remained silent and ignored it.
The argument against fighting climate change ranges from the semi-reasonable argument that regulating manufacturing and energy industries will damage economic growth, to the inane notion that climate change is not real (or at least not man-made).
But climate change is a real. The entire institution of “Science” agrees on it. And while the organizers of this event are certainly making the news with their dramatic approach, they are not yet making true progress. According to the Associated Press, Senate Democrats have said they will not bring any bills related to climate change to the floor this year. Unfortunately for Americans (and humanity), it is an election year, and many Democrats will be facing tough challengers, and are afraid to too strongly support any controversial issues. Politics has unfortunately gotten in the way of progress in slowing down the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
In a way, the Democrats may be making the right choice by not bringing a bill up. It may be more important to hold off for a year in the hopes that they can keep their seats and write bills addressing climate change in the future. Then again, when is this “future?” There is another election in two years, after all. How long can we wait until the issue is addressed by the people we elect to serve the public good? And finally, what if they still lose their seats? It’s evident that the Republican Party is not going to do anything to alleviate the problem.
The economic argument against fighting climate change is a farce. The business community should not be afraid of change. Using technology and entrepreneurial ingenuity to solve problems is how business people have made their millions (and billions) for a very long time. Business people are smart. That’s exactly how they got to the top of their industries in the first place. The people who have the capital and knowledge to tackle this issue should do so. Green energy is a huge new field with unlimited potential. Investing in new energy technologies and research has the potential to greatly benefit the economy in the long term- including adding jobs in the field, receiving dividends from good investments, and minimizing losses to the economy that will come from unchecked climate change. The mindset that needs to change is choosing short-term profits over much larger long-term gains (and survival of the human race). The business world should be excited about this new opportunity, and should work with public entities to take advantage of it.
And they should get on it soon, because the most important thing to understand about climate change is this:
People fighting against climate change are not a bunch of “dirty hippies” trying to save an abstract notion of “The Environment.” They are, in fact, trying to save ourselves. Because after we poison the air, water, and food that we need to survive, the rest of Earth’s inhabitants will adapt and go on living like they have for millions of years. Without us.
Apparently, there aren’t too many 19th Century European philosophers in the US Senate.
For a full list of last night’s speakers, click here.