On Sunday, March 2, 398 people were arrested in front of the White House to demand President Obama reject the Keystone pipeline. And less than two weeks later, nearly a third of the U.S. Senate stayed up all night to talk about the necessity to take action on climate change. The #Up4Climate hashtag was a top nationally-trending topic on Twitter during the event. This is proof that the climate movement is making historic ground, and that climate activism works.
The "Up For Climate" session wasn't a filibuster, as no legislation was debated. But the marathon speech session aims to make climate change a mainstream issue in the national dialogue. Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island led the session, which lasted until 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. Majority leader Harry Reid, progressive hero Bernie Sanders and social media-savvy Cory Booker also participated.
Among those who didn't participate included Senate democrats who are sponsored by the oil and coal industry, like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Landrieu's campaign committee has received close to half a million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 2009. In May 2013, Sen. Landrieu sought to lift the Obama administration's ban on BP getting new oil drilling leases, just 3 years after the oil company polluted Louisiana's water, killed its wildlife and damaged the state's economy. Manchin has made his political career railing against the EPA's regulation of mountaintop removal mining, and has received over $1 million in campaign contributions from the mining and electric power industries.
Republican Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and James Inhofe of Oklahoma both scoffed at the "Up For Climate" speech-a-thon. McConnell told the Cincinnati Enquirer, "For everybody who think it's warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn't." Inhofe wrote a book called The Greatest Hoax, and recently said that "fewer and fewer" senators believe climate change is happening, and that it is man-made. McConnell and Inhofe are two of the most heavily-sponsored senators by the oil and gas industry -- McConnell's campaign committee has received over $600,000 from the industry since 2009, and Inhofe has received over $300,000.
It's obvious to anyone that both Democrat and Republican senators who oppose climate change or remain silent on the issue are doing so to appeal to their sugar daddies writing campaign checks. Senators like Landrieu, McConnell, Inhofe and Manchin are scarlet politicians who have helped turn Washington into a brothel -- the industry puts something in, and they put out.
Those who doubt climate science are shutting out the voices of over a vast majority of the scientific community. We've had proof that human beings and the greenhouse gases emitted by our industries affect our atmosphere since 1896. And every major scientific institution that studies climate science agrees that our planet is warming, and that global warming is caused by human activity. Even a Koch Brothers-funded scientist who was paid to debunk climate change found that climate change is real, and exacerbated by human behavior. Pitting climate scientists against oil industry-funded politicians isn't a "debate," but a denial-fest.
Other climate science deniers argue that we don't have the economic wherewithal to address climate change. But not acting now would have an even more devastating impact on our economy. Recent weather patterns are proving that the warming of our planet is happening at a rapid rate, making freak weather events more commonplace. Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City and New Jersey, costing the economy over $50 billion. January's polar vortex -- caused by arctic air being pushed south due to the warming of polar ice caps -- cost the economy $5 billion. Leaving this problem unaddressed will bankrupt us.
The "Up For Climate" speeches were proof that the recent climate activism sweeping the nation is being heard by Washington. But the climate movement isn't going away. Soon, the Earth Day to May Day days of action, sponsored by the Alliance for Global Justice, will sweep the country, putting thousands of people in the streets and raising national awareness about this growing problem. Solutions called for by the convergence of climate activists are full employment with community-based small business, worker-owned co-ops, small farms and government jobs. The convergence is also calling on the government to switch to 100 percent renewable energy dependence by 2030, and making room for these new jobs in the budget by cutting the bloated Pentagon budget by at least 50 percent.
The coming midterm elections will be our opportunity to go from the streets to the ballot boxes, and refuse to elect any politicians who don't promise to address climate change with concrete solutions. Our votes have to make a statement that the collective voice of the people will always win regardless of how much campaign money the oil companies give.
This article originally appeared on Reader Supported News.