We don’t often see true political courage, particularly from senators.

There are no Lions of the Senate as we’ve had for more than 200 years.

No Webster or Taft or Goldwater or Kennedy or Dole.

I once read the U.S. House was made up of common citizens hoping to make change. The Senate, on the other hand, was a 100 people who think they should be president.

But methinks we have at least a decent applicant, and it is Indiana’s own Mike Braun.

He recently announced, along with Delaware Democrat Sen. Chris Coons, the first bipartisan climate change caucus. The goal is to find solutions to the greatest problem we face.

Finding a Republican senator even admitting to the reality of climate change is like hunting snipe. We’ve heard of such a thing — but no one’s ever seen it.

There were reports from throughout the past year that some GOP senators, including Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Wyoming’s John Barrasso, have started saying things like, “Hey, there’s this climate changey thing …” in order to tease out the reaction from the Republican base.

But our senator, Braun, is the first to move toward some action, even if the action is to say, “let’s start to talk about this.”

The goal of the caucus is to begin looking at bipartisan solutions to what Republicans for too long have labeled a hoax, led by the GOP pied piper Fox News.

Science can be difficult, I understand that. But it’s impossible to go the day without seeing examples of climate change. Turn on the news and wildfires are burning up California yet again. Read The Herald-Times and note this year’s corn and soybean crops are worse in quality and quantity. That’s due to shifting weather patterns, predicted by climate scientists, that are resulting in more moisture in the late winter and early spring but drought conditions through harvest.

We can plant flowers and vegetables now we couldn’t 30 years ago. Deer and other animals legally hunted are shifting their patterns. We have far more 90-degree days than ever before. Bird-watching aficionados see shifting patterns. Weather events are becoming more extreme. Armadillos have been found in Kentucky. Armadillos, my dear readers.

If armadillos make it across the Big Four Bridge — I’m moving. To Canada. I’ve only seen them in movies and TV but the damn things freak me out. They’re either the original aliens, protected by some primordial armor, or they’re a science experiment gone wrong. I’d rather make out with a platypus than shoo away armadillos from my doorstep.

As the former editor of the Oil City Derrick, the birthplace of the modern oil extraction industry, I know we can trace the rise and expansion of the carbon-based energy industry and how it’s affected the world. I’ve also studied the transition from oil whale to refined crude as lighting agent and lubricant — then as vehicle fuel. The scene is similar today.

Understand a simple fourth-grade science experiment wherein one uses an inverted fish tank to create an atmosphere. Pump in some smoke and watch as a lamp overhead has increased the temperature inside the tank as compared to outside temps. It’s the decades-old greenhouse gas experiment.

Greenhouse gases, in turn, lead to global warming.

In turn that causes climate change.

These terms are not synonymous.

What’s happening, I think, is Braun and other GOP senators are starting to hear from folks whose lives and livelihoods are being affected by climate change. So as much as the party plank says climate change is a hoax, and as many commentators can be brought on Fox, the thing about climate change is that affects people regardless of party.

Thankfully, there’s already some decent proposed legislation out there that serves as a bipartisan solution.

The bill pushed by the Citizens Climate lobby is a market-based approach that would assess fees to corporations at $15 a ton of carbon-based emissions and then redistribute that to taxpayers. The point is that all citizens are affected by carbon emission, so if an emitter is sending all that stuff into the air, into the atmosphere, into lungs, affecting everything about our lives and changing the climate, those citizens should be compensated for this public pollution.

It’s a good idea that’s already getting bipartisan support — including from the new bipartisan senate climate caucus initiated by our own senator, Mike Braun.

There’s much work to do, and Braun is decidedly not yet a Lion of the Senate.

But he’s showed great courage in putting country — and people — before party.

We should acknowledge that.
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