America must lead on climate change
Commentary Barack Obama
On Tuesday, I unveiled a new national plan to confront climate change. It’s a plan that will reduce carbon pollution to prevent the worst effects of climate change, prepare our country for the effects we can’t stop and lead the world in combating the growing threat of a changing climate.
Many Americans who already feel the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it — they’re busy dealing with it. Firefighters are braving longer wildfire seasons. Farmers are seeing crops wilt one year, and wash away the next. Western families are worried about water that’s drying up. And while we know no single weather event is caused solely by climate change, we also know that in an increasingly warmer world, all weather events are affected by it.
The costs of inaction can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses, higher food costs and insurance premiums, and hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief. So the question is not whether we need to act, but whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world we leave to our children, and to future generations.
This plan will cut the dangerous carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. For years, groups such as the American Lung Association have warned us that carbon pollution threatens our health and the air our children breathe. We limit the mercury, sulfur and arsenic in our air and water, but today, there are no federal limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can pump into the air. That’s not safe. So we’ll work with states and businesses to set new standards that put an end to this limitless dumping of carbon.
We’ll encourage our businesses to deploy more clean energy, which will mean less pollution in our air and more jobs for American workers building wind turbines and installing solar panels. And we’ll waste less energy in our cars, homes and businesses, by partnering with truck makers so their next generation of vehicles go farther on a gallon of gas. We’ll put people to work building smarter homes and offices and appliances that use less electricity, saving you money on your energy bills.
But the hard truth is that even if we do our part, our climate will continue to change for some time. That’s why the second part of this plan will protect key sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for impacts of climate change we can’t avoid. From California to Florida to Ohio, states and cities across the country already are taking action. We’ll support these efforts, working with communities to protect homes and businesses and build more-resilient infrastructure that can withstand more-powerful storms.
Finally, because no nation can tackle this challenge alone, America will lead international efforts to combat a changing climate. We’ll partner with our businesses to help developing countries make the move to cleaner energy, and engage international partners on steps to reduce carbon pollution. We compete for business, but we also share a planet. And we must all shoulder the responsibility for its future.
This is the fight America can and will lead in the 21st century. But it will require all of us, as citizens, to do our part. Scientists and farmers, engineers and businesses, workers and builders all have a role to play. We’ll need to give special care to people and communities unsettled by this transition. And those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of well-connected donors and more concerned with the judgment of future generations.
If you agree with me, I ask you to act. Educate your classmates and colleagues, your family and friends. Speak up against the special interests and their allies in Congress. Remind everyone who represents you, at every level of government, that there is no contradiction between a sound environment and a strong economy, and that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.
We will be judged as a people, as a society and as a country by where we go from here. The plan I put forward to reduce carbon pollution and protect our country from the effects of climate change is the path we need to take. And if we remember what’s at stake
— the world we leave to our children — I’m convinced that this is a challenge we will meet.
Barack Obama is president of the United States.
We are fortunate enough at this stunningly important time in world history to have a leader in the White House who has his head on straight and IS WILLING to do the right thing – – but no man of any ilk or description can do this alone. It will take a concerted effort, not only of all of us, but the leaders of the world. It would behoove us all to give this serious thought. Delaying the inevitable only increases the cost in life and property while simultaneously lowering the odds of success. Humanity and life on earth is at risk. We all know it!.
As much as many of us ARE suffering, perhaps, we aren’t suffering enough – – to truly get people’s attention. What’s it gonna take? Blood flowing in the streets like Egypt has gone through? My God, I hope not. But look how they have come together and there is nothing unified about those diverse people over there. But they managed it! They had enough and they got it done – – they took action to stop their pain!
They are no smarter than we are and you and I know that. Is our focus so limited that we refuse to get “anything” done? The time is now. Jan)