U.S. senators pulled an all-nighter Monday night to call attention to climate change. Democrats Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Barbara Boxer of California led the effort to shine light on the need for more curbs on carbon emissions.
Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray were both present for the event. Cantwell took the floor early Tuesday morning following more than 12 hours of testimony. She said the issue isn’t about the future; it’s about negative effects that industries here are already seeing.
“It affects our shellfish growers, which is a major industry. We have three and four generations of shellfish growers that are threatened now by the impacts of carbon in our oceans and the warming of our oceans,” Cantwell said. “So when you talk about climate and you talk about acidification of our oceans, you’re talking about an industry that is key to the northwest that is being affected today.”
Cantwell’s talk included slides showing that the ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon emissions that result from human activity. And the corrosiveness it creates in the water affects not just oysters, but also tiny copepods, which are an important food source for endangered salmon.
Cantwell says commercial fisheries, including shellfish and crab, contributes $70 billion a year to the nation’s economy and supports more than a million jobs.