28 Senators Pull An All-Nighter to Wake Us Up to the Reality of Climate Change
The words we use to describe our legislators these days aren't very flattering: short-sighted, opportunistic, lazy, and, yes, even greedy, are some familiar descriptions of our elected representatives.
But last night, something unusual happened– a group of 28 intrepid Senators pulled an all-nighter to bring attention to an issue that concerns the future- a future that will more likely impact their grandchildren than their next campaigns for election. The Senators spent an entire night urging immediate action to avoid the worst possible effects of climate change, beginning their evening of climate speeches at 6:30 p.m. ET on March 10 and concluding at 9 a.m. ET on March 11.
Anyone tuning in on C-Span or on Twitter (using the hashtag #Up4Climate), could witness these Senators' desperate pleas for the legislative body to pay attention to– and more importantly– agree to do something about, the most pressing issue facing everyone on our planet.
The toughest battle these Senators face is convincing their own colleagues– as well as their constituents– of both the reality and the gravity of climate change. Recent estimates suggest that 65 percent, or 30 members, of the Senate Republican caucus deny that climate change is either real or is happening, or is caused by humans, based on public statements they have made. A recent survey, taken in November 2013, found that the majority of Americans as a whole — 63 percent — believe in climate change, with 53 percent "somewhat" or "very" worried about the consequences.
Throughout the night, speech after speech cited examples of the impact climate change will have– and in many cases has already had– in states across the US:
Senator Tom Udall noted that more than 90% of New Mexico is in extreme drought, warning that "by 2050, we're not going to have forests in New Mexico...much less water."
Sen. Bill Nelson acknowledged that in Florida, which faces the greatest risk from sea level rise and storm surge, his constituents "are in severe jeopardy," and declared, "It is time for us to get out of our lethargy and recognize the problem that is happening in front of our very eyes."
Senator Mark Udell (D-CO) discussed how climate change has affected the state of Colorado:
The #Up4Climate event was, according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), "a signal of a much larger confidence we have about our ability to get a significant climate bill passed in Congress." The Senator said Senate Democrats have "a very strong chance to win, but we have to fight."
Underscoring the reason for their fight, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) closed his speech with a quote from Dr. Seuss' the Lorax:
The effort was unanimously applauded by environmental groups. Said Earthjustice Senior Legislative Representative Sarah Saylor "We are very grateful that a majority of the Democrats in the U.S. Senate took to the floor throughout the night to highlight the need for action to combat climate change. In particular, we thank those Senators who initiated the #Up4Climate effort, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
What You Can Do
Voice your thanks and support to the following Senators who participated, many of whom are members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force:
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (@SenateDems & @SenatorReid)
Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (@SenatorDurbin)
Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (@SenSchumer)
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. (@PattyMurray)
Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii (@BrianSchatz)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. (@SenWhitehouse)
Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. (@EPWChairBoxer)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (@SenFeinstein)
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (@RonWyden)
Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I. (@SenJackReed)
Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla. (@SenBillNelson)
Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. (@CantwellPress)
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md. (@SenatorCardin)
Senator Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. (@SenSanders)
Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (@AmyKlobuchar)
Senator Mark Udall, D-Colo. (@MarkUdall)
Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M. (@SenatorTomUdall)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. (@SenatorShaheen)
Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. (@SenJeffMerkley)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (@SenGillibrand)
Senator Al Franken, D-Minn. (@FrankenCommTeam)
Senator Chris Coons, D-Del. (@SenCoonsOffice)
Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. (@SenBlumenthal)
Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (@ChrisMurphyCT)
Senator Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. (@MartinHeinrich)
Senator Angus King, I-Maine (@SenAngusKing)
Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va. (@SenKaineOffice)
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (@SenWarren)
Senator Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. (@MarkeyMemo)
Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J. (@CoryBooker & @SenBookerOfc)
Keep up with proposed climate change legislation in Congress and voice your support.