Climate Warning Key to Obama’s State of the Union Address

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Greatest threat to future generations: Obama uses State of the Union to highlight climate change.

United States Vice-President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker John Boehner listen as President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address in Washington.

At some point in the past few years, it dawned on leading Republicans that dismissing the science behind climate change was not doing them any favors with the public. Recent polls show that a clear majority of Americans believe the climate is in fact changing, and nearly half view that as a major threat to the country’s future.

Two months after he brought climate change to the forefront of the G20 summit in Brisbane, Mr Obama used Tuesday’s address to vow to tackle any efforts by the US Congress to roll back action on climate change. But to embrace the science, for a GOP leader, would be to alienate a powerful conservative base that continues to plug its ears and shout “Climategate” when confronted with the evidence. Obama elevated global warming to the top of the list of challenges facing us, saying, “And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Here’s his retort to the “I’m not a scientist” rhetoric, used by Republican Sen. And so, one by one, top Republicans—including presidential hopefuls Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio—have fallen back on what is becoming the new party line: “I’m not a scientist.” It is not a particularly compelling line, as many analysts have pointed out. “It’s got to be the dumbest answer I’ve ever heard,” one Republican energy lobbyist told the New York Times. “Using that logic would disqualify politicians from voting on anything.” To some extent, GOP leaders are banking on polls that show Americans don’t consider climate change a top national priority. A taskforce is being established in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to review Australia’s targets in the lead-up to the summit, but the government has foreshadowed its actions will depend on those taken by other countries.

More than that, they’re banking on Democrats being too timid to push back very hard on environmental issues, for fear of being painted as liberal tree-huggers. Obama didn’t single out natural gas as a bridge fuel that emits lower carbon emissions than coal and is creating jobs. “America is number one in oil and gas. In November, the US and China announced a landmark deal setting ambitious new carbon emissions reduction targets, including an undertaking by China to put a cap on its emissions. “And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got,” Mr Obama said in Tuesday’s address. I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA.” Obama touted expansions in U.S. production of both traditional and renewable energy, such as solar and wind power.

It was good thing, then, that he not only mentioned the issue, but also delivered a ringing defense of global warming science — an explanation for why he is determined to act and a rebuke of those who would end his climate program. And he referred only indirectly to the Keystone XL project, the controversial pipeline that would transport Canadian petroleum to refineries in the United States. Obama said. “And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.” In just one sign of the administration’s work, last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to regulate methane for the first time from the nation’s oil and natural gas industry. “So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” Mr. Rather than focusing on “a single pipeline,” he said, Congress should support an “infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs,” he said.

National security experts have criticized claims that global warming will make the world a more dangerous place by increasing violent conflict and crime. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict and hunger around the globe. A paper by the Marshall Institute found that environmental factors rarely incite conflict, but more often breed cooperation. “2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record,” Obama told Congress Tuesday. “Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.” Last year was declared the warmest on record, but only by 0.05 degrees Celsius. Environmentalists were encouraged by Obama’s remarks on global warming, while Republicans said his policies would raise energy prices and cause unemployment. “President Obama made it clear that he intends to solidify the nation’s leadership on climate change,” said Dr.

That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it…. The White House, for example, put forward a plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, struck a deal with China that committed the top two emitters to taking steps to rein in emissions, and broke a longstanding logjam that prevented a global climate treaty from being crafted, among other steps. James Inhofe in a rebuttal to Obama’s speech. “The President’s climate agenda would only reduce CO2 concentration by less than one-half of a percent; it would only reduce the average global temperature by less than 2/100th of a degree; and it would only reduce the rise of sea levels by 1/100th of an inch – or the thickness of three sheets of paper.” “In the meantime, the President’s agenda will cost our economy $479-billion dollars; we will experience a double-digit electricity price increase; and tens of thousands of Americans will lose access to well-paying jobs over the course of the next decade,” Inhofe said. Obama’s legacy won’t be established by some grand new program for reinvigorating the middle class, miraculously passed by a GOP Congress in the fourth quarter of his term. As it is, the Obama administration has to rely on the cumbersome Clean Air Act to mandate greenhouse gas cuts, and there’s no plan for what happens after the next decade or so.

Given the GOP Congress’s stance on the issue, the immediate result might only have amounted to a few Americans thinking about the issue with a little more depth.

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