Senate Republicans on Thursday refused to acknowledge the scientific consensus that global warming is a real, man-made threat to the planet and that time is running out to stop burning the fossil fuels scientists blame for worldwide climate change.
“The American people need to know whether Congress is listening to the overwhelming majority of scientists when it comes to climate change,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said of his amendment. But instead of letting the Senate vote on Sanders’ sense-of-the Senate resolution, Republican senators blocked its consideration. The mostly party-line vote of 56-42 tabled Sanders’ amendment.
The Senate debated the resolution on the same day the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its “Doomsday Clock” ahead two minutes. Because of global warming, the bulletin said, Earth is now closer to human-caused doomsday than it has been in more than 30 years. Only last week, scientists at two United States government agencies – NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration – separately reported that 2014 was the hottest year on record.
“On this issue, the scientists have been virtually unanimous in saying that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, that it is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world and that it is imperative that we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel,” Sanders said in a floor speech. “Do members of Congress believe the scientists or not?” the senator asked.
The measure was offered as an amendment to a bill that would force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Sanders has argued against construction of the pipeline because it would promote greater exploitation of some of the dirtiest oil on the planet and increase greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The project would exacerbate global warming by making it easier for a Canadian company to ship oil from Alberta’s tar sands region to refineries in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.