Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) declared on the Senate floor Thursday that the debate over whether humans are causing climate change is over, and that it has been shown conclusively that human activity is leading to global warming.
"People say there are questions about the theory," he said. "No, there are not.
"The argument that the jury is still out on climate change is a false and bogus argument," he added. "The jury is not out. In fact, the jury is in, the effects are obvious, they surround us every day, and we need to take action."
Whitehouse said the theory that warmth creates a moist atmosphere that traps heat has been around since the Civil War. "That's been basic textbook science for a century," he said. "It's never been controverted. It's a law, essentially, of science."
But he said special interests continue to deny that mankind's activities are warming the atmosphere, despite mounting evidence. He said the fossil fuel industry and its allies are the chief opponents, because they see alternative energy production as a competitor.
"They're so tied to the fossil fuel industry, they only see it as competition between fossil fuels and clean energy," he said. "They don't see the future. They don't see how important these technologies are going to be, in batteries, in wind, in clean energy, in all of these areas."
Whitehouse said he is particularly alarmed by man-made climate change because Rhode Island would be hurt by rising sea levels. "When it comes time to reap the whirlwind of storm activity, of sea-level rise, coastal states like Rhode Island will pay a particularly high price," he said.
Opponents of the theory that human activity is causing global warming have noted that temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago, and that other factors, such as solar activity, could be a significant factor in global warming and cooling.