All In   |  May 09, 2013

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s climate change Senate smack down

As Republicans block President Obama's nominee to head the EPA, Chris Hayes notes that carbon in the atmosphere is about to hit its highest level since the Pliocene Era, three to five million years ago, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse smacks down a colleague who says God won't allow us to ruin the Earth.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> nominee to head the epa , jenna mccarthy. that was not constructionism. they get a committee vote to deny a quorum and barbara boxer complained republicans should get out of the fringe lane. the republicans wouldn't let the nominee out of committee. here's the other reason blocking this nomination is so compare. she is currently the assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation at the epa , head of the epa 's air regulation and as head would have the authority to regulate the biggest pollution we face, which is carbon. that's an idea republicans and their fossil fuel backers really really hate. that's why the committee's ranking republican, senator vitter and his brethren want the epa to first answer more than 1,000 questions, not exaggerating, about the quote underlying data the epa uses for job killing regulations. the epa is our best shot for regulating carbon and it's pretty damned important considering the milestone we're approaching. we learned recently we're about to pass 400 parts per million in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. that may not mean anything to you. it certainly didn't mean anything to me. here's the context for it. the last time we had 400 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere wasn't a century ago or 1,000 years ago, it was 800,000 years ago according to records of ice core data. that spike at the top, notice how much higher it is over the past 800,000 years. even that is an understatement as detailed by " washington post ," blast plumbeer, the last time we had that many in the atmosphere was 4 to 5 million years ago, known as the plyocene era. i don't know much about it but it was 3 to 5 meters higher than today. yes, there were mammoths. so, pro a lot of mammoths, con, hot as can. with comparatively high sea levels with a sea level rise that doesn't matter today and doesn't a matter republicans because they're either so in the pocket of big carbon they want to deny it or as some might put it god won't allow us to ruin the earth.

>> i was recently at a senate meet writing i heard a member of our senate community say, god won't allow us to ruin our planet. the statement that god won't allow us to ruin our planet sweeps aside ethics, responsibilities, consequence, duties, even awareness.

>> that was senator sheldon white house, who offered a stunning 17 minute answer to that statement including god who gave us earth also gave us natural laws .

>> we must in turn believe god gave us its laws of gravity, chemistry, physics. we must also believe god gave us our human powers of intellect and reason. why would he allow a badly engineered bridge or building to fall, killing innocent people but protect us from this mistake?

>> exactly. if no divine power stops gravity from operating, no divine power will stop the heating of our planet. when we know we are putting an element in the atmosphere at outrageous levels, that will lead to an un10bly hot planet.

>> we're to continue to pollute our earth with literally mega ton each year of carbon, heating up our atmosphere, aciddifing our seas, knowing full well by his natural laws what the consequences are. we need to face up to the fact there is only one leg on which climate denial stands. money. the polluters give and spend money to keep polluting.

>> well said, senator. it's time for republicans to get out of the fringe lane, out of the pocket of big carbon and into reality, divine or secular, before we're all riding woolly mammoths under water.