Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) delivers a message on climate change via video to a U.N. climate change conference in South Africa, Dec. 7, 2011
Delegates from around the world are meeting in Durban, South Africa this week in the latest round of talks on battling climate change. California’s junior senator was stuck on Capitol Hill, but Democrat Barbara Boxer sent a video message to the United Nations conference opposing climate change deniers, while Republican James Inhofe sent one in their defense.
Boxer didn’t try to compete with the climate change deniers in Durban — they parachuted in with banners questioning the science. Instead, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee used charts to tell them, "you are endangering humankind."
Boxer cited Pentagon and insurance company warnings that the effects of climate change are putting people and assets at risk. She pointed to charts showing the World Meteorological Organization concluding 13 of the warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 15 years and analysis by the International Energy Agency predicting the Earth’s temperature could climb 11 degrees Fahrenheit. "Wishing that climate change would go away by clinging to a tiny minority view is not a policy, it is a fantasy," Boxer said.
The top Republican on the Environment Committee, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, sent his own video to Durban that proclaimed what he called the “complete collapse of the global warming movement.” He told delegates they were being ignored by their allies in the U.S. and repeated his questions about the science of climate change, saying it was dying the "scientific death of a thousand cuts."
Boxer countered that "good things are happening, but not enough good things." She admitted there aren’t the votes on Capitol Hill to enact sweeping anti-global warming laws.
But she pointed to efforts in California — the Million Solar Roofs Initiative and strong voter support for a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "A few well-funded special interests, big oil, mostly," she said, "sought to overturn that initiative. But over 60 percent of California voters rejected their efforts after scientists and doctors and health experts made it clear that we cannot afford to turn our backs on this threat. So the people spoke in California."