08/29/2013 12:41 pm ET Updated Oct 29, 2013

Time to Wake Up: What if Climate Change Is Real?

On July 9, 2013, in his 38th speech on the Senate floor as part of the "Time to Wake Up" series, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island, one of the leading ocean advocates in Washington today,) talked about what's at stake in the climate change debate using a series of rhetorical questions. The speech, "Time To Wake Up: What If Climate Change Is Real?" is available on YouTube.

This is a brilliant, informed, and persuasive set of questions -- what ifs -- that if we fail to answer correctly, we put the lives of our children and grandchildren, indeed our planet, at risk. These "what ifs" were put forward by the most consistently committed American legislator in favor or response to carbon and other pollution to both land and sea. Senator Whitehouse was one of the leading legislators to fight for a National Endowment for the Oceans which passed through the Senate in March of 2012.

Every week, for 38 weeks, Senator Whitehouse has made such an argument to his colleagues and the nation. And still we do nothing. The deniers of climate change, a very small number of legislators backed by polluters and the energy industry, are holding the world hostage to their vested interest and against the interest of the planet. As Whitehouse asks, "What if they are wrong? How will they be held accountable by their children and their neighbors and their nation for dereliction of responsibility and their sworn pledge to govern?" It is a travesty and an American disgrace. Senator Whitehouse is to be commended for his diligence and passion. Take the time, and if you are a U.S. citizen, please forward this message to your representatives and ask them to listen.

You can follow Senator Sheldon Whitehouse on Twitter or find him on Facebook.