pillow fight

ShutterstockSens. Brian Schatz and Maria Cantwell share a light moment during the all-night talkathon. OK, not really.

Thirty U.S. senators pulled an all-nighter on Monday. They did not, sadly, wear PJs, paint toenails, or fight with pillows.

Instead, they talked about climate change — and talked and talked and talked. They cited studies and stats. They showed photos and graphs. They warned about climate impacts in their home states. They promoted the economic benefits of clean energy and the job-creating potential of innovation. They made strained analogies about baseball and the rise of the Nazi regime. Altogether, they talked for nearly 15 hours, right through to 8:55 a.m. Tuesday morning.

There aren’t enough votes in Congress right now to pass strong climate legislation, or any climate legislation (though an energy-efficiency bill might squeeze through). But at least nearly a third of senators care enough about the problem to stage the 35th all-nighter in Senate history.

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“Tonight is not about a specific legislative proposal,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of the organizers of the talkathon. “It’s about showing the environmental community, young people, and anyone paying attention to climate change that the Senate is starting to stir and we want to get some actions going.”

Whitehouse — a passionate climate hawk who has now given 60 speeches about global warming on the Senate floor — orchestrated the chatfest along with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), under the aegis of the new Senate Climate Action Task Force. Both of the Senate’s independents joined in, as well as 26 other Democrats, including, as The Guardian points out, “several senior Democrats who have not spoken out publicly before on climate change.”

Whitehouse tweeted out this photo:

The only Republican to show up was more than a little off-message. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate’s No. 1 climate denier, gave a rambling speech arguing, among other points, that it’s been cold recently, therefore global warming is a hoax.

To which Schatz replied: “Pointing out a window on a cold day and laughing about climate change is one of the most profoundly unserious things that otherwise good and responsible leaders in this chamber do.”

More quotes from the talkathon:

  • “I rise tonight in puzzlement as to how this issue became a partisan issue. It’s a scientific issue.” — Angus King (I-Maine)
  • “It’s time to stop acting like those who ignore this crisis — the oil baron Koch brothers and their allies in Congress — have a valid point of view.” — Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
  •  “We do not have to accept the false choice of the environment versus the economy.” — Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
  • “We are on the cusp of a climate crisis … a point of no return. We are in a moment of great danger and great opportunity. It is up to us.” — Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • “So much of that CO2 is red, white, and blue.” — Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
  • “I don’t want to bury my head in the tar sands.” — Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
  • “Right now what we need is a Republican dance partner.” — Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
  • “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today.” — Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
  • “Lobsters are our modern-day canary in the coal mine.” — Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
  • “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — Ed Markey (D-Mass.), reading from The Lorax

Did your senators join in? Here’s a list of participants:

Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Al Franken (D-Minn.)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Tim Kaine (D-Va.)
Angus King (I-Maine)
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

And here are the Democrats who did not attend the all-nighter, some of whom hail from fossil-fuel-producing states and/or face tight reelection races this year:

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Thomas Carper (D-Del.)
Robert Casey (D-Pa.)
Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Kay Hagan (D-N.C.)
Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Mary Landrieu (D-La.)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Carl Levin (D-Mich.)
Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)
Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
John Walsh (D-Mont.)
Mark Warner (D-Va.)