Year 3, Month 12, Day 25: Everybody Gets Coal In Their Stockings!

Time Magazine’s new Man of the Year has a chance to discuss climate:

So it should hearten greens that Obama volunteered in his interview with TIME editors that climate would be a major part of his second-term agenda—at least in part because of concern for his children:

Well, it’s a cliché, but it’s obviously true that for any parent, as you watch your kids age, you are reminded that everything you do has to have their futures in mind. You fervently hope they’re going to outlive you; that the world will be better for them when you’re not around. You start thinking about their kids.

And so, on an issue like climate change, for example, I think for this country and the world to ask some very tough questions about what are we leaving behind, that weighs on you. And not to mention the fact I think that generation is much more environmentally aware than previous generations.

There is that sense of we’ve got to get this right, and at least give them a fighting chance. In the same way that as a parent you recognize that no matter what you do, your kids are going to have challenges — because that’s the human condition — but you don’t want them dealing with stuff that’s the result of you making bad choices. They’ll have enough bad choices that they make on their own that you don’t want them inheriting the consequences of bad choices that you make. We have to think about that as a society as a whole.

That’s a pretty good argument for why we need to act on global warming—though it’s not really clear what the President would or even could do, especially faced with a divided and likely hostile Congress. He’s the Person of the Year, but he’s not omnipotent. (Though he does have options—see this plan from the Natural Resources Defense Council that would use the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.)

Have a nice day, everyone. Sent December 19:

While President Obama’s approach to climate change issues is undoubtedly going to be more robust than that offered by his rival Mitt Romney, that’s a pretty low bar to clear. The fact is that at a critical point in our species’ history, we are offered only anodyne strategies to combat a complex and metastasizing catastrophe. This is partly attributable to the gamesmanship of Washington, where politics is defined as the art of compromise; Mr. Obama’s skills at compromising are already well-known. Unfortunately, the accelerating greenhouse effect isn’t going to meet the President half-way. The laws of physics and chemistry are like that — stubborn, unyielding.

But there’s something else in Washington preventing a genuine response to the climate crisis. The Republican party’s complete denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence on global warming makes them as inflexible — and almost as harmful — as the steadily rising count of atmospheric CO2.

Warren Senders

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