It’s hilarious and sad at the same time: the US Senate had to vote whether or not climate change is real, and not a hoax. Thankfully, the vast majority of the Senators agreed with science, and by 98 to 1, they voted that climate change is indeed real.

Hilarious, yet saddening: US Senators had to vote that climate change is real is, while arguably necessary, just as silly as Tolkien’s Ents voting whether or not the hobbits are orcs.

The vote was part of an amendment regarding the controversial Keystone XL pipeline which would carry oil from the Canadian sands to the US.

The problems with the Keystone pipeline are many and far reaching. First of all, oil sands explorations like the one in Canada leave toxic traces, and the Canadian oil sands specifically have a history of pollution and contamination; this move would also greatly encourage oil sands exploration, which causes more emissions than conventional exploration. Indeed, the main concern is about greenhouse gas emissions. Research showed that the Keystone XL pipeline could produce 4 times more emissions than previously thought. There is also a major risk of oil spills along the pipeline, which would traverse highly sensitive terrain, with threatened wildlife and pristine waters.

As it usually happens in the US, the project polarized Republicans and Democrats, with the first supporting the building of the pipeline, and the latter opposing it. Many Republican senators actively speak against climate change, with Senator James Inhofe even calling climate change “a hoax”. To make things even worse, Inhofe is heading the Senate Environment Committee. Let me rephrase that: a man who believes that 99% of the scientific community is wrong is in charge of the government money going to environmental infrastructure. Yep, nice going there, US.

So anyway, several Democrats have filed largely symbolic amendments to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. They are designed to put senators on the record on whether climate change is real and human-caused. This wouldn’t change things by much legally, but it put things into an interesting perspective – if lawmakers do agree that climate change is real and humans are causing it, then they will have to justify not taking measures to protect it (and even taking measures to accelerate climate change).

“We may not agree on the solutions, on the paths forward, or even on some of the details, but I do believe it’s time for us to begin to agree on a basic set of facts,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D–HI), who is offering a climate amendment, on the Senate floor today.

But things took quite a surprising turn, when Senator Inhofe took back his words and admitted that climate change is real, but went on saying that humans aren’t causing it. Needless to say, that’s also not correct – we are causing climate change.

“Climate is changing,” he said, “and climate has always changed.” The hoax that he has talked about, he suggested, is that there are people who think they are so “arrogant” and “powerful” that “they can change climate.”

With an overwhelming majority, the US senate decided climate change is real.

Inhofe was one of the last senators to vote, in favor. The only ‘NO’ vote came from Senator Roger Wicker (R–MS).

The only thing that’s left now is to vote if we are indeed causing it. Who knows, maybe one day politics will finally catch up to science.



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