After a long absence of speaking directly to the issue of climate change—he did not mention it once in his State of the Union speech in January—US President Barack Obama used his Earth Day proclamation to focus on it.
“The United States can be a leader in reducing the dangerous pollution that causes global warming and can propel these advances by investing in the clean energy technologies, markets, and practices that will empower us to win the future,” the proclamation reads.
The proclamation follows another speech made this week at a small fundraiser in California where he said, “There are climate change deniers in Congress and when the economy gets tough, sometimes environmental issues drop from people’s radar screens. But I don’t think there’s any doubt that unless we are able to move forward in a serious way on clean energy that we’re putting our children and our grandchildren at risk.”
The Obama administration, which recently kick-started its 2012 re-election campaign, may see climate change as an issue for which it can easily draw an early contrast with Republican candidates. So far all of the noteworthy GOP contenders deny the science behind climate change, even those who a few years ago supported action against climate change.
When asked recently about his past support for cap-and-trade legislation ex-Minnesota governor and likely contender for the GOP nod, Tim Pawlenty, said, “Everybody in the race, well at least the big names in the race, embraced climate change or cap-and-trade at one point or another. Every one of us.”
During the 20th Century, global surface temperatures rose by a minimum of 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degrees Celsisus) and up to 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). Temperatures continue to rise: the decade of 2000-2009 was the warmest on record since 1880 when rigorous temperature recording began. Last year was among the warmest years on record. Experts overwhelmingly conclude that rising temperatures are largely due to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
Recently US Republicans on the House and Commerce Committee unanimously voted against amendments that stated the world was warming, summarily rejecting decades of climate research and data.
In contrast Obama’s Earth Day proclamation reads, “Our entire planet must address [climate change] because no nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change.”
Such language will also likely appeal to environmentalists who have by-and-large been frustrated with the administration’s slow pace and failures on tackling climate change.
Obama added, “Every American deserves the cleanest air, the safest water, and unpolluted land, and each person can take steps to protect those precious resources.”
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