Mr. President, I rise in support of a simple and straightforward resolution cosponsored by 20 of our colleagues that would simply express the sense of the Senate that climate change is occurring and that it will continue to pose ongoing risks and challenges to our citizens and to our country. That is all it says. We know we have a problem. We don't pretend to give every solution in this resolution; it simply gives us the point of saying we have a problem.

I am pleased to be joined by two leaders on this issue, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse as well as Chairman Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

We have an obligation to our constituents and to this country to address global climate change. We must tackle the challenge head-on. This is an issue facing all Americans--from farmers struggling with extreme weather from drought, to floods in seaside communities threatened by rising waters, to habitat changes that are impacting our hunting, fishing, and outdoor economy, to businesses trying to mitigate the financial risks posed by the effects of climate change.

It is clear climate change poses a grave threat to food security, the environment, and our national security, as well as to our businesses. Yet achieving a commitment to at least admit this problem is going on in the Senate has fallen short. That is the point of our direct resolution that simply states the facts--the science--about climate change and the impact it is having on our country.

The resolution draws from the 2014 National Climate Assessment which was drafted by 300 climate experts and extensively reviewed by a 60-member advisory committee and the National Academy of Sciences. The National Climate Assessment states the science very simply. The most recent decade was the Nation's warmest on record and U.S. temperatures are expected to continue to rise. The Department of Defense of this country, of the United States of America, our own Department of Defense 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review reiterates climate change has a destabilizing effect, stating: ``The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.'' And the Defense Science Board report concluded: ``Climate change will only grow in concern for the United States and its security interests.''

All the resolution says is that it is the sense of the Senate that global climate change is occurring and will continue to cause ongoing risks and challenges to the people and the Government of the United States.

We know the costs. The 2012 drought was the worst drought since 1956 and caused over $30 billion in damage nationwide. The current drought in the Western and Southwestern States is estimated to cost billions and it remains ongoing. Last week there was a newspaper map showing that about 34 percent of the contiguous United States was in at least a moderate drought as of July 22. Those are the numbers. Those are the facts.

We have seen heavy downpours increasing nationally. We have seen hurricanes increasing in intensity. If we continue on our current path, by the year 2050, between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of existing coastal properties will likely be below sea level nationwide, and $238 billion to $507 billion worth of property will be below sea level by the year 2100.

So what are we hearing from the business community? We have conservative businesspeople such as former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under George Bush, Hank Paulson, speaking out. He, along with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and eight other prominent business and policy leaders, recently released the first comprehensive assessment of the economic risks our Nation faces from the changing climate, including increased coastal storm damage, reduced productivity in some areas of the United States because they have become too hot for outdoor work, strained energy networks, and expanding public health impacts. This report represents an important first step toward a true accounting of the risks of climate change so the American business community can begin to work toward effective climate risk management.

Just this past Thursday, former Clinton Treasury Secretary and cochair of the Foreign Relations Council Bob Rubin wrote an article in the Washington Post advocating that although it is clear that the U.S. economy faces enormous risks from unmitigated climate change, policy and business leaders are not taking into account the cost of inaction, which means decisions are being made based on the broad picture posed by climate change on our economy.

So now we have scientists, business leaders, church groups, and outdoor groups all out in front of this issue. In fact, a recent poll found that 63 percent of Americans believe this is occurring. Sixty-three percent of Americans believe it is occurring. Yet where is the Senate? Where are we?

We have an opportunity today, to pass this simple resolution saying it is the sense of the Senate that global climate change is occurring and will continue to pose ongoing challenges to the people and the Government of the United States.

It should not be that hard for this Congress to simply say that. Think of what the Senate has done in the past. When we saw what was going on in South Africa, it was the Senate that overcame a Presidential veto to approve the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. It was the Senate that took the lead on civil rights legislation. It was the Senate that was willing to put partisan issues aside and take on the Watergate hearings. It was the Senate that took on consumer issues. It was the Senate that passed the Clean Air Act approved by 43 Democrats and 30 Republicans.

We just have to take one step today; that is, to simply tell the world we know there is a problem. We are not here trying to give all the solutions. We know colleagues disagree with this in terms of what we should do, depending on where they are from or what States they represent. But to even start having those discussions, we have to admit there is a problem.

I urge my colleagues to support this simple, straightforward resolution. I urge them to support it because it is so important to our country.

I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the consideration of S. Res. 524, expressing the sense of the Senate regarding global climate change which was submitted earlier today; that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, with no intervening action or debate.