Last week Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island has done what pitifully few members of Congress or the Obama administration have done lately: Take a stand, articulately, passionately, and accurately about climate change in an official capacity. Think Progress surfaced the video from Sen. Whitehouse's YouTube page (the video's below) and it's worth taking a listen -- all 23 minutes of it.
Here's the powerful opening (I'm leaving in the emphasis from Joe Romm as it really pulls out the right points), from :
Mr. President, I am here to speak about what is currently an unpopular topic in this town. It has become no longer politically correct in certain circles in Washington to speak about climate change or carbon pollution or how carbon pollution is causing our climate to change.This is a peculiar condition of Washington. If you go out into, say, our military and intelligence communities, they understand and are planning for the effects of carbon pollution on climate change. They see it as a national security risk. If you go out into our nonpolluting business and financial communities, they see this as a real and important problem. And, of course, it goes without saying our scientific community is all over this concern. But as I said, Washington is a peculiar place, and here it is getting very little traction.
Here in Washington we feel the dark hand of the polluters tapping so many shoulders. And where there is power and money behind that dark hand, therefore, a lot of attention is paid to that little tap on the shoulder. What we overlook is that nature -- God’s Earth -- is also tapping us all on the shoulder, with messages we ignore at our peril. We ignore the messages of nature of God’s Earthand we ignore the laws of nature of God’s Earth at our very grave peril.
All of which is a longer version of what President Clinton glibly said during the Clinton Global Initiative in September: The current US inaction on climate, the denial of the science, and unwillingness to meaningfully even discuss doing anything about it all, means the US increasingly looks like a fool in the international community. In Clinton's words, "We look like a joke."
Everywhere else in the world takes climate change seriously, nearly everywhere else in the world sees the need and benefit of moving away from fossil fuels, but as it stands now, not the United States. Rather than being the world leader that it claims to be, on these issues in particular the US is not just not a leader, it's not a follower, it's actively getting in the way of making progress on these issues.