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U.S. Senator Delivers 50 Speeches in 50 Weeks Calling for Action on Climate Change

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U.S. Senator Delivers 50 Speeches in 50 Weeks Calling for Action on Climate Change

Nearly every week, Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) rises on the Senate floor and delivers an impassioned speech about the need to confront climate change. Wednesday marked his fiftieth climate address, but he is not stopping there. He will continue beating the drum for climate action, because he knows this crisis cannot be ignored.

Sen. Whitehouse delivered his 50th weekly speech on global warming yesterday, calling on the U.S. government to "wake up."

There are times in history when people must stand for what is right. This is one of those times, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is one of the leaders calling for change.

He gives voice to the countless Americans living on the frontlines of global warming—from the Texans dealing with years of drought to the New Yorkers rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy to the Rhode Islanders coping with sea level rise. And he reminds Congress we have a moral obligation to protect our children from more devastating climate impacts.

I just returned from Hong Kong, about 900 miles from the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan. More than 9.5 million people have been affected by the storm and many have lost their homes and loved ones. Families have been torn apart and entire towns flattened, and now survivors are struggling to find food to eat and water safe enough to drink. It will take years to recover from the damage.

The storm packed unprecedented strength, and it offers a sign of things to come if we fail to curb global warming pollution. Climate change is making our oceans warmer and warmer seas mean more violent storms. MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel explains, “As you warm the climate, you basically raise the speed limit on hurricanes.”

We can’t let careening disasters threaten our children’s future. We must act now. And more and more Americans are demanding it. Natural Resources Defence Council released a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling released on Tuesday reporting that most residents of Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana and New Hampshire want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. And a recent poll conducted by Stanford University found similar results spread across 40 states.

President Obama has directed the EPA to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, and the agency is moving forward. But it will take a lot of work to finalize these standards, and leaders like Sen. Whitehouse are great allies in the effort. Week in and week out, he calls for action—even when Congress is caught in gridlock and even when the political focus has fallen elsewhere—because the climate threat cannot be denied. 

In his speech on Wednesday, Senator Whitehouse said:

I give these speeches because climate change is real, because the campaign of denial is as poisonous to our democracy as carbon pollution is to our atmosphere and oceans, and because I am confident. I am confident that we can do this. We can strengthen our economy, we can redirect our future, we can protect our democracy and we can do our duty to the generations that will follow us. But we have to pay attention. We have to wake up.

This was originally posted on NRDC's Switchboard.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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