The climate crisis needs Obama's attention

The Daily Climate

A seemingly permanent sense of crisis has engulfed our political world – Benghazi, the sequester, the hunt for rogue IRS agents. President Obama must break free if he is to govern effectively. He can do so by speaking forcefully on the most profound crisis confronting this nation:

The threat of climatic disruption and the absolute necessity of deflecting it if this generation is to have a future.

He must call forcefully on the scientific community to speak to the conclusions our research has made clear.

We are the only ones with that information. There is no other source. No one else can tell the public – or our politicians – about our worrisome state of affairs. No one else can warn society what we risk, or explain how this weird, unpredictable, extreme weather is just a foretaste of what is to come.

We need our president to lead, and he has so far blown it, just as surely as President Bush did before him and President Clinton before him and Bush pére and Ronald Reagan before them all.

Let's be clear about the urgency: Obama is the last president who will have an opportunity to deflect a first-class disaster. With every day that passes, we make further commitment to substantially uncontrolled further warming.

High expectations

Obama had a chance to change the debate in April, speaking before an overflow crowd gathered in the newly renovated National Academy of Sciences building. 

Expectations were high. There has never been a moment when a sitting president faced more intense scientifically clear and obviously dangerous challenges to the public welfare than today.

The global addiction to fossil fuels has been allowed to run its course beyond the limits of safety, to the moment when the climatic change is tipping beyond the point of reversibility. Past that point, the feedbacks will be in control and the Earth will warm by many degrees despite our attempts to mitigate the process. The seas will rise, continents will bake and flood, chaos will reign. The timing for these changes is not the indefinite future. It is now, today, conspicuous, and it is the next decades and the lifetimes of people now living.

We have powerful resources in the form of scientific insights and talents and energy. But we must be led and fed with political insights and skill, and that is where Obama has failed us.

It is true that this president has been repeatedly rebuffed by a House of Representatives dominated by a faction of Republicans who believe in neither government nor science and who have done their best to dismantle both. 

No call to arms

But no one should yield to such vandalism, least of all a president. And a president addressing the pre-eminent scientific institution can assume he is among staunch friends and supporters. He can and must call on those colleagues to join him in a rapid national, and ultimately international, shift away from fossil fuels toward a world of renewable energy.

I was in the audience that April evening. And I heard no such call to arms.

President John F Kennedy, standing before the same academy 52 years ago, spoke of the public role scientists must undertake to bolster the advancement of America as a nation. 

"All of the questions we must decide now are extremely sophisticated," he said in 1961. "All of these involve questions that confound the experts. For those of us who are not experts, and yet must be called upon to make decisions which involve the security of our country ... we must turn in the last resort to objective, disinterested scientists who bring a strong sense of public responsibility and public obligation."

Alas, President Obama offered none of that. It was friendly talk. No challenge, no inspiration, no hope beyond soft platitudes and pabulum. He urged scientists simply to generate "science-based initiatives to help us minimize and adapt to global threats like climate change."

On the most important scientific issue of our generation, Obama gave the day, and possibly the world, to the Republicans and their congressional and corporate friends.

George Woodwell is a founding trustee and distinguished scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and emeritus founder and director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. This essay is adapted from a post initially published on Woodwell's blog, The Nature of Our House.

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So, it's easy for Obama, to pass the bills, he wants?

We, all know what a hung parliament is, so why do we think that Obama can magically route the Republicans. Yeah sure!.

The problem is that few are reading between the lines. In his Presidential acceptance speach, Obama, talked at length of his desire to see the USA becomes energy self sufficient, he also talked about pretecting our planet from climate change.

If you add energy and climate, the logical conclusion is that clean energy is the goal. However, when we assume, that we know what clean energy is, then we might be disappointed. The scientists at MIT have been working on plasma energy, for many years, so lets keep an open mind.

Why on earth should or would Obama do anything to take a position on climate change when he knows full well that it is his military that are changing the weather with operation cloverleaf.He will do what every american president has always done .Don't pay the foreign debt,just raise the borrowing limit & just print more money.Keep the military strong to try & keep china contained,Use their clandestine program to spread chemtrails &haarp to dominate he climate & thereby control the economy of the world.

"This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Entire regional airsheds, crop plant environments, and river basins are heavy with noxious materials. Motor vehicles and home heating plants, municipal dumps and factories continually hurl pollutants into the air we breathe. Each day almost 50,000 tons of unpleasant, and sometimes poisonous, sulfur dioxide are added to the atmosphere, and our automobiles produce almost 300,000 tons of other pollutants."
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson: Special Message to the Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty
The American Presidency Project
February 8, 1965

President Johnson made this address nearly half a century ago and we still arguing about how to deal with CO2 emissions!

Andrew Cunningham.
You make some very good & interesting comments. To further add to your understanding please type in on google :chemtrails over australia HAARP in australia. operation cloverleaf..We get chemtrails over melbourne every day. Most of the spraying is done at night,but the cloud disruption is happening all the time. Best of luck.

I draw your attention to the emissions from for instance the smokestacks of the ALCOA REFINERY IN WA . Studies & an documentary reveal how much is pumped in to the sky everyday but people want work & industry wants to make money. .The yellow fumes from the Shell refinery smoke stack in Geelong never stop. By the way,Geelong has the highest rate of autism in australia & the 3rd highest rate of bowel cancer. The furnaces in the Alcoa smelter are not monitored & the chlorine & other pollutants add their burden to the toxification of the atmosphere. The beach front at the smelter is unbelievably polluted & an analysis reveals massive amounts of mercury,aluminium,lead,copper,cadmium manganese & other heavy toxic metal pollution. What was once clean shell grit &sand is now just putrid muck which is toxic & dangerous to handle. The storm water drains from the city & the leaching rubbish tips are polluting the waterfront & corio bay is in a terrible state of pollution.That is the way things are in reality.

With more urgent crises on his plate, I am not surprised that Obama has not done anything about the climate - not that he could.