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Obama Report Card

Obama Report Card

The lead editorial in today’s New York Times is titled “Climate Warnings, Growing Louder: Given new evidence on carbon pollution, Mr. Obama should get moving on global warming.” The Times Editorial Board recognizes that there is virtually no chance of getting important legislation through a Republican, climate-change-denying, Congress, and counsels Obama to do what he can through using his executive authorities as president. Excerpts from the editorial include:

The news that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most important global warming gas, have hit 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years increases the pressure on President Obama to deliver on his pledges to limit this country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

America cannot solve a global problem by itself. But as Mr. Obama rightly observed in his inaugural address, the United States, as both major polluter and world leader, has a deep obligation to help shield the international community from rising sea levels, floods, droughts and other devastating consequences of a warming planet. In his State of the Union speech, he promised to take executive action if Congress failed to pass climate legislation.

Which is just what he will have to do. The prospects for broad-based Congressional action putting a price on carbon emissions are nil.

The Times’ Editors, as well as myself, are not impressed with Obama’s leadership to date on climate change, opining:

Mr. Obama has a firm grasp of the climate issue, and no one doubts that he cares about it. But as is often the case with this president, the question is whether he will exhibit a sense of urgency to match his intellectual understanding.

In my opinion, climate change and its potential consequences make the issues the Administration and Congress seem to hyperventilate about, like gun control, seem trivial, deck chairs on the Titanic. There is no serious effort in Washington for actions to either avoid or mitigate the impacts of looming climate change, and precious little effort to consider adaptation strategies for what is happening to us and the rest of the planet.  To be fair, the obliviousness of our elected representatives reflects the very deep reluctance of American voters to consider any large changes in their lifestyles in order to protect ecosystems, and only a great deal of pain will change that.

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