Nearly half of all top lawmakers in Washington DC reject latest climate science and deny human link to warming temperatures
By Ed King
An overwhelming majority of US senators believe climate change is real, but nearly half do not think human activity has anything to do with it.
Late on Wednesday Capitol Hill lawmakers cast their vote first on whether global warming was a hoax, and then on what the possible cause is.
The first vote saw a 98-1 majority agree that the world’s climate is changing and that the concept is not a hoax. Only Roger Wicker, a Republican Senator from Mississippi, disagreed.
The second asked the 99 most important lawmakers in the US to decide if climate change is real, and and if human activity significantly contributes to it, a stance backed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s top authority on global warming.
Only 50 senators supported this position, which is not legally binding, with 49 opposing. It needed 60 to pass.
50-49, Senate votes that we’re changing the climate. So I guess that decides it. It’s real after all. Bummer.
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 22, 2015
Those against included some potential Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election – Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
Only five Republicans voted for the amendment – Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham , Kelly Ayotte, Mark Kirk and Susan Collins.
Democrat senator Sheldon Whitehouse said the fact that there was widespread agreement that global warming was real would allow further debate on a response in the future.
“I’m glad almost every Senator acknowledged today that climate change is real. I hope now we can discuss what to do about it,” he said.
But Republican and vocal sceptic Jim Inhofe, who surprisingly backed the first vote, said the Bible was evidence the climate had changed in the past – and insisted it had nothing to do with humans.
“The hoax is that there are some people that are so arrogant to think that they are so powerful that they can change climate. Man can’t change climate,” he said.
The vote was part of a wider debate on the future of the bitterly contested Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil derived from tar sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Green groups said the result proved many senators had chosen to follow orders from fossil fuel sponsors rather than look at the facts.
“After 49 Senators voted against a mountain of climate change science today, we wouldn’t be shocked if the Senate decides to vote against gravity, amend the periodic table, or express its sense that two plus two might actually equal five,” said 350 Action Policy Director Jason Kowalski.
US president Barack Obama used his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to mock opponents who say they cannot comment on climate change because they’re not a scientist.
“I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either.
“But you know what – I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.”