Speeches

03.11.20

Time to Wake Up: Blaring Economic Alarms

Mr./Mdm. President, I rise today, for number 268, to urge colleagues here in the Senate: wake up, and see the looming danger we face from climate change. Look at recent climate effects in our Southern Hemisphere. The most devastating wildfires anyone can remember have ripped across Australia, burned more than a fifth of Australia's forests, destroying thousands of homes, killing an estimated 1 billion animals, and making a day of breathing air in Sydney like smoking 37 cigarettes. In the oce… Continue Reading


03.03.20

Time to Wake Up: The Chamber Knew

Mr./Mdm. President, I am here today for the 267th time to call this chamber to wake up to the threat of climate change. Let me dive right in with a report from over 30 years ago that was presented to a major conference here in Washington, D.C. On the first page, it reads: Increases in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other key gases . . . that are opaque to portions of the infrared spectrum result in the "greenhouse effect" or global warming. When short wavelength infrare… Continue Reading


02.25.20

Time to Wake Up: Dwindling Catches

Mr./Mdm. President, I come to again raise an alarm about the massive carbon pollution we are dumping into our natural world, and to tell the stories of two ocean creatures suffering from that pollution. We may mock or ignore these creatures, these lesser creatures so far down the food chain from us, but we are fools to ignore the message of what is happening to them. Matthew 25:41 admonishes, "as you did it to one of the least of these . . . , you did it to me." So we ought not mock and igno… Continue Reading


02.11.20

Time to Wake Up: Bad Ads

Mr./Mdm. President, I am here again as the Senate returns to its regular business, to call us to respond to the threat of climate change. Here on the floor today, things seem back to normal. The floor is empty. The quorum calls descend between speakers. Our new pages are figuring out the routine. Mr./Mdm. President, things are anything but normal. The threat of climate change worsens by the minute. Carbon emissions continue to rise globally. We hurtle toward calamity. And yet we do not act. … Continue Reading


01.14.20

Time to Wake Up: 7 Charts

Mr./Mdm. President, Grist did an article recently about climate change, with images. I grabbed a few, and added a few. They give a pretty good overview of the mess we're in on climate change. The most devastating wildfires anyone can remember are ripping across Australia. Those fires have destroyed thousands of homes; killed an estimated 1 billion animals; and made a day of breathing air in Sydney the equivalent of smoking 37 cigarettes. Why? According to the Australian Bureau of Meteoro… Continue Reading


01.07.20

Time to Wake Up: 2019 in Review

Mr./Mdm. President, here we are in 2020 and I am still coming to the floor to try to wake this chamber up to the perils of climate change. Pathetic. Why do I have to be doing another of these speeches? Why don't we heed the warnings of our foremost scientists, of our military, of top financial institutions, of our own home-state universities? What does it take to get our attention here? Why is the fossil fuel industry's unlimited dark money still flooding our politics? Why are the biggest lob… Continue Reading


12.18.19

Time to Wake Up: Methane and the Captured EPA

We're rapidly running out of time to protect our future, and that of our children and grandchildren, from worsening climate upheaval. America ought to be taking every measure available to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, from legislative action, to legal action, to diplomatic action, to regulatory action. But we're not, because of corruption. Regulatory action means enforcing the laws on the books. We have a Clean Air Act that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to stop dangerous p… Continue Reading


12.11.19

Time to Wake Up: No COP Out

Mr./Mdm. President, I rise to again call this chamber to wake up to the threat of climate change - and to say about Paris, in chorus with millions of Americans, "we're still in." And in truth, America is still in The Paris Agreement. When you look at the states that are still in; when you look at the cities that are still in; when you look at the companies and universities that are still in; it's the vast majority of the American economy. Despite President Trump's fossil fuel nonsense, we rea… Continue Reading


12.04.19

Time to Wake Up: 10,000 Papers

Mdm./Mr. President, On the occasion of new atmospheric carbon dioxide records being broken in our atmosphere - the highest in the history of humankind - I rise today for the 260th time to call this chamber to wake up. As we venture further into uncharted, dangerous climate change, the National Council for Science and the Environment issued this report, Climate Science Research in the United States and U.S. Territories. This report surveys climate research papers from public universities across… Continue Reading


12.04.19

Whitehouse Remarks at the National Press Club

It is an honor to be with you today at the National Press Club. At Bunker Hill, Daniel Webster remarked on how America "set the world an example of founding civil institutions on the great and united principles of human freedom and human knowledge." A free press stands proudly among those institutions. You are not the enemy of the people, but a pillar of American democracy and a safeguard against corrupt influence. So thank you. I seem to be in recurring combat against corporate and partis… Continue Reading


11.19.19

Time to Wake Up: Corruption Scheme

For this 259th climate speech, I'm going back to the theme of corruption. Before diving into the "how," let's start with the "why," because the scale and the remorselessness of the scheme of corruption the fossil fuel industry has run is hard to comprehend without understanding "why." Here's the "why." The fossil fuel industry reaps the biggest subsidy in the history of the planet. The IMF estimates the global subsidy in the trillions every year. That's globally. In the United States alo… Continue Reading


11.13.19

Time to Wake Up 258: Rough Seas Ahead

Mr./Mdm. President, today in my 258th Time to Wake Up Speech, I want to take us back to our oceans. The oceans are a clear and consistent signal of climate change, a signal untainted by fossil fuel industry propaganda attacks. And for good reason. It's hard to dispute sea level rise measured with tide gauges; acidification measured with the kind of pH test kit in a middle school science classroom; or rising temperature measured with a thermometer. Even the fossil fuel industry can't foul th… Continue Reading


11.06.19

Time to Wake Up: Colorado

Mr./Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that Lucia Simonelli, a AAAS fellow in my office, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this Congress. I rise today for the 257th time to call this chamber to wake up to the threat of climate change. Today, I report on my trip to Colorado to see how climate change is affecting life in the Centennial State, and to learn more about the remarkable action Coloradans are taking to confront climate change. Colorado is the 18th state I have vi… Continue Reading


10.30.19

Time to Wake Up: Marathon Petroleum

When historians look back at why the United States failed so badly to take on climate change, they'll of course focus on the political efforts of the world's largest oil companies, Exxon, Chevron, BP, and Shell; they'll note the obstructive role of leading trade associations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Petroleum Institute; and they'll chronicle the network of phony front groups set up by Big Oil and the Koch brothers to sow doubt of … Continue Reading


10.16.19

Time to Wake Up: ACE Rule on CRA

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, I am delighted to join my colleagues from Maryland and Delaware to support this resolution expressing disapproval of the Trump administration rescinding the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with its so-called affordable clean energy rule, which is a name fanciful enough to make George Orwell blush. The first thing to understand about the so-called affordable clean energy rule is that it is a do-nothing rule, exactly as the polluters wish. EPA admits its own rul… Continue Reading


09.25.19

Time to Wake Up: China

As-prepared for delivery. Mr. President, I rise today for the 254th time to ask this body to wake up to the challenge of climate change. In the time I've been doing these speeches, I've watched the shifting waves of climate denial. First climate change was a hoax; then there wasn't enough science; then the science was uncertain; then solving climate would hurt the economy; then, innovation will magically save us. There's a new entrant in the climate denial lexicon: China. China isn't … Continue Reading


09.16.19

Time to Wake Up: We Did Start the Fire

Mr./Madam President, I rise today for my 253rd "Time to Wake Up" speech. If you felt like the heat this summer was particularly brutal, you were not imagining things. July was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NOAA. The Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization noted "July has rewritten climate history, with dozens of new temperature records at [the] local, national and global level." NOAA says 2019 is on track to tie for the second hottest year on record. Over… Continue Reading


09.10.19

Time to Wake Up: Wyoming

Mr./Madam President, I have often spoken about how climate change is affecting Rhode Island: rising sea levels will remake our map; warming seas are shifting our traditional fisheries away from Rhode Island waters; a hotter climate creates public health risks for Rhode Islanders. The list goes on. In the Senate I've also tried to learn how climate change is affecting other states. Some states are coastal, some are upland. Some are urban, some are rural. Some are mountainous, some are flat. … Continue Reading


07.30.19

Time to Wake Up: Who Funds The Chamber?

Mr./Madam President, before I begin my 251st Time to Wake up remarks, I would like to thank two AAAS fellows who will be leaving my office. Dr. Kim Binsted came to us from the University of Hawaii, where was the principal investigator on the NASA-sponsored Hi-Seas project, studying conditions like those astronauts would encounter on Mars. Next month, she returns to Hawaii to continue her research. Dr. Ryan Edwards joined us after completing his PhD at Princeton University, where he studied c… Continue Reading


07.24.19

Time to Wake Up 250: Looking Back – and Forward

Mr./Madam President, for the 250th week in a row of Senate session, I rise - yet again - to call this chamber to wake up to the threat of climate change. In April 2012, I delivered the first of these speeches; I began: "I know that many in Washington would prefer to ignore this issue, but nature keeps sending us messages - messages we ignore at our peril." It was a cry of frustration - frustration that the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision had killed bipartisan work on climate… Continue Reading

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