Year 3, Month 12, Day 11: Nobody Here But Us Chickens

The St. Louis American reprints Eugene Robinson’s astute and blistering column from earlier this week, this time titled, “Obama Should Lead On Climate Change.” Good stuff:

The United States has never agreed to abide by the Kyoto Protocol, the binding 1997 treaty through which some countries agreed to limit emissions. Still, U.S. emissions have risen only slightly since then. The big increase has been in China and India, which are exempt from cuts under Kyoto.

Officials in Beijing and New Delhi understand that unchecked growth in emissions is not sustainable. But they also know that the United States and Europe are still responsible for far more carbon emissions per capita. And if a factory in, say, Guangzhou province produces iPhones for American consumers, who should be held responsible for those emissions?

Will these questions be answered in the Doha talks now under way? Not a chance. Not until the United States is fully involved.

And this is why President Obama should devote his next State of the Union address to climate change. He understands the science and knows the threat is real. Convincing the American people of this truth would be a great accomplishment – and perhaps the most important legacy of his second term.

Lots of luck with that. Sent December 6:

Environmentalists are justifiably disappointed in the Obama administration’s tepid participation in the Doha climate conference, and in our nation’s lackluster response to what is clearly the defining crisis of our times. And indeed there is plenty of cause for frustration, what with the steady drumbeat of bad climate news seemingly getting worse by the minute, while our diplomats dither and the United States routinely abdicates its position of leadership in the world community.

However, Mr. Obama’s timidity is not the real problem. If addressing an ongoing catastrophe responsibly means a reduced quarterly profit margin for Big Oil and Big Coal, it’s not going to happen. Our political paralysis in the face of a collapsing planetary ecosystem is caused by the all-pervasive influence of fossil fuels in our economy and fossil funds in our government. Presidential pusillanimity is a diagnostic indicator of how far, and how deeply, the disease has spread.

Warren Senders

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