US Senate Democrats open marathon session on climate change
More than two dozen US Senate Democrats have joined forces to speak through the night, hoping to "wake up" Congress to what is seen as the threat of climate change.
"Despite overwhelming scientific evidence and overwhelming public opinion, climate change deniers still exist," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "They exist in this country and in this Congress."
The Nevada Democrat made the comments in kicking off the marathon gabfest at 6:27 p.m. today. The final address is expected to end about 15 hours later, at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
Thirty of the Senate's 53 Democrats, plus the two independents who caucus with them, have signed up to participate. The White House said it would post live tweets during the overnight session under the hashtag #up4climate.
"It's time for Congress to wake up and get serious about addressing this issue," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a leader of the Climate Action Task Force that organized the event.
Whitehouse told reporters that the talkathon was the "opening salvo" to a more coordinated, years-long push for comprehensive climate legislation.
"We hope that by staying up all night ... we will signal a new dawn of climate change action in Congress," added Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
Many scientists attribute rising temperatures and some extreme weather events worldwide to the increased release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
They fear that as carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, there will be more severe weather, including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and drought.
After failing to make climate change a priority in his first term, and with no major climate legislation expected from a deeply divided Congress, Democratic President Barack Obama is addressing the issue by wielding his executive powers.
Democrats hope to make it an issue that will rally their liberal base for November's congressional elections.