An unusual event happened in the oft-divided U.S Senate on January 21. By a nearly unanimous vote of 98 to 1, the senators agreed on an amendment concerning climate change.
During discussion of Keystone XL Pipeline legislation, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D–RI) offered Amendment 29, “Climate change is real and not a hoax.” These eight little words brought Republican and Democrat Senators to common ground, if only for a moment.
Inhofe Backs Amendment
In a move that surprised many, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, seconded Whitehouse’s amendment and urged his colleagues to support what became known as the Whitehouse/Inhofe Amendment. All but one of the senators agreed climate change is real and not a hoax.
What made Inhofe’s support surprising for some was his long history of arguing claims of an imminent manmade global warming catastrophe, though not climate change in general, are indeed a hoax. The senator published a book in 2012 titled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Our Future.
Inhofe stated in the Senate, “I proudly offered to cosponsor an amendment with my colleague Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) to acknowledge that the climate is changing, as it has always been changing and always will. The amendment specifically says ‘climate change is real and is not a hoax,’ to which 98 Senators, myself included, fully agree. The climate has been changing since the beginning of time, which is strongly supported by scientific evidence and scientific literature.
“Over the past 2,000 years, a Medieval Warm Period occurred, followed by the Little Ice Age, and both climate events are widely documented by reputable sources such as the National Academy of Science’s 2006 study,” he continued. “I’m glad the Senate can overwhelmingly agree the climate is changing, and will continue to keep changing. This is not a hoax. The hoax is the belief that human activity can drive changes in the climate.”
Marc Morano, executive editor and chief correspondent for ClimateDepot.com, a global warming and eco-news center, said, “Sen. Inhofe outsmarted Whitehouse and his lame attempt to try and use word ‘hoax’ against Inhofe. Instead, Inhofe wisely noted climate has always changed and therefore climate change was not a hoax. It is a very important distinction.”
Different Amendment, Different Outcome
Shortly after amendment 29 was adopted, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) offered an amendment stating that climate change is happening and it is “extremely likely that global increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and global temperatures are caused by human activities.” This amendment failed by a vote of 50 to 49.
The two votes different outcomes suggest although the Senate recognizes climate change is real, there is no agreement on whether human activities are significantly influencing it.
Karen Dove ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Bradenton, Florida.