As Goes Greenland...So Goes the Planet

A bipartisan delegation from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee traveled to Greenland to study the impact of global warming. "Not only were the vistas that we saw breathtaking, but we learned a lot. The bottom line: As goes Greenland, so goes the United States, so goes the planet Earth. If the ice sheet in Greenland continues to melt, billions of people from one end of this planet to the other, including some of the poorest people in the world in Asia, will suffer terribly," Sande

A bipartisan delegation from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee traveled to Greenland to study the impact of global warming. "Not only were the vistas that we saw breathtaking, but we learned a lot. The bottom line: As goes Greenland, so goes the United States, so goes the planet Earth. If the ice sheet in Greenland continues to melt, billions of people from one end of this planet to the other, including some of the poorest people in the world in Asia, will suffer terribly," Sanders said at a Capitol press conference the day after returning from Greenland.

"It is shocking that something as huge as the Greenland ice sheet is at risk of being lost because of our actions, but this is the reality I witnessed firsthand," Sanders said. "We saw a sea of ice that holds much of our history literally melting away in front of our eyes. We heard from political leaders, scientists, and others that things are simply out of whack.

"The bad news," Sanders continued, "is that we have been very late to getting into the game."

"The good news," he added, "is that all over the world we know what has to be done. This is not a problem that we do not know how to solve. It makes no sense at all that we continue to drive cars that get worse mileage per gallon than 20 years ago. You don't have to be a great scientist to figure that out. It doesn't make any sense that in our homes and factories and offices we're wasting all kinds of energy. We know that. We know to a significant degree what we have to do. And I know that under Senator Boxer's leadership on this Committee we are going to do the right thing. We're going to demand energy efficiency in this country. We're going to demand a significant movement for sustainable energy.

"The United States Congress must not wait another day to provide the international leadership that global warming demands, leadership that the Bush administration has miserably failed to demonstrate," he added. "While there will be challenges in changing our behavior to reverse global warming, I strongly believe that the new opportunities for green jobs and a green economy are unlimited if we stand up and take bold action."

Sanders was among 10 senators on the two-day trip to Kangerlussuaq and Ilulissat on Greenland's west coast. The delegation was led by Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator Johnny Isakson, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The delegation visited the Kangia Ice Fjord near Illulissat on Saturday, and toured iceberg-filled Disko Bay by boat on Sunday. The Kangia, which two decades ago already was one of the world's fastest moving glaciers, has since then doubled its speed, an acceleration scientists say is driven by rising global temperatures.

Accompanying the Senators on the trip was Dr. Richard Alley, a professor at Pennsylvania State University who is one of the world's foremost experts on ice and global warming. Dr. Alley was lead author for the pivotal Working Group I report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Senators also were also briefed by Danish climate scientist Dr. Minik Rosing, Ph.D., and Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard, and Greenland Minister of the Environment Arkalo Abelsen.

Sanders and Boxer are the lead sponsors of the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, which calls for reducing emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The bill is cosponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy.

To listen to the press conference audio, click here

To watch the video, click here