Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and 15 other senators held a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday to announce the formation of a task force on climate change.
The first action by Senate Climate Action Task Force members will be to question why television network Sunday news programs have virtually ignored the issue of climate change. Sanders and Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) are taking the lead on the issue.
“We have the scientific community telling us that climate change is the greatest crisis facing our planet and the major networks on their Sunday news shows have devoted all of 8 minutes to discussing that issue,” Sanders said at the news conference.
A study by Media Matters for America reported that throughout 2012 the network programs devoted a total of 8 minutes to the issue of climate change.
The group also plans to push back aggressively against climate change skeptics in Congress, citing polling that shows a majority of voters think those who reject the link between human activities and global warming are uninformed. A poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters last summer found that 74 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans younger than 35 would describe climate change deniers as “out of touch” or “crazy.”
“When you have a young demographic that sees this issue that way, clearly the denial strategy is doomed,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) said. “And our job is to accelerate its collapse.”
Whitehouse is the co-chair and co-founder of both the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change and the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus.
“When I go back to Vermont people ask me what world the United States Congress is living in?” said Sanders. “They understand that the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is causing devastating damage all over the world.”
Senator Sanders is also a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee as well as the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.