U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, 2nd District, has voted in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has declared her intent to follow suit.

This pipeline would open the door to a massive influx of tar sands oil from Alberta. The amount of oil potentially extractable from the bitumen-rich sandstone is truly staggering. Equally staggering would be its contribution to greenhouse gases once this oil is refined, regardless of whether it is used here or exported to other countries.

I expected this kind of ideologically driven and scientifically uninformed vote by the new representative, but I had expected better of the senator.

She takes pride in positioning herself in the middle of the political spectrum, and the middle is often a good place to be in these partisan times. But there is no middle ground when it comes to global warming.

One only has to follow the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to get a glimpse of what we can expect if we continue to recklessly postpone our transition to renewable forms of energy.

Each day, each week, each month, we are contributing to an exponential increase in future climate impacts, to say nothing of the amount of money required to offset damages.

I generally offer my opinions cautiously, understanding that I have no special insights regarding society’s ills. But as someone trained as a chemist, I can say with certainty, along with 97 percent of the world’s scientists, that global warming is real, it is caused primarily by human activity and that our window for actions to mitigate the most extreme impacts is closing fast.

Disregard for these realities by Sen. Collins and Rep. Poliquin is not just disheartening but also tragic – for all of us.

Joe Hardy