Year 4, Month 1, Day 30: Look! Look! A Mouse!

The headline reads “Speech Gives Climate Goals Center Stage.” The New York Times (which recently shut down its Environment desk entirely):

WASHINGTON — President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second Inaugural Address, setting in motion what Democrats say will be a deliberately paced but aggressive campaign built around the use of his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said on Monday at the start of eight sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

The central place he gave to the subject seemed to answer the question of whether he considered it a realistic second-term priority. He devoted scant attention to it in the campaign and has delivered a mixed message about its importance since the election.

I’m a literary dude, I guess. Sent January 23:

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! / You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout.”
Climate change may have taken center stage in the President’s second inaugural address, but its primus inter pares position in Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is nothing compared with the scene-stealing we can expect from the accelerating greenhouse effect over the next four years. With profound and far-reaching geopolitical, humanitarian, economic, and environmental implications, our transforming climate will become the single most influential player in world affairs. Well before the end of this century, the human costs of extreme weather, droughts, heat waves, and rising sea levels will dwarf that of all planetary armed conflicts combined; include the impact on the rest of Earth’s biota, and it’s uncomfortably likely that “ingrateful man’s” fossil-fueled madness may well presage the final act of a Lear-like tragedy, leaving only a few survivors on a planet ravaged by “sulphurous and thought-executing fires.”

Warren Senders

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