Year 4, Month 7, Day 13: You Know, I Think I Really Like Vanilla.

The WaPo reported (June 26) on President Obama’s Big Climate Speech:

WASHINGTON — Appealing for courageous action “before it’s too late,” President Barack Obama launched a major second-term drive Tuesday to combat climate change and secure a safer planet, bypassing Congress as he sought to set a cornerstone of his legacy.

Abandoning his suit jacket under a sweltering sun at Georgetown University, Obama issued a dire warning about the environment: Temperatures are rising, sea level is climbing, the Arctic ice is melting and the world is doing far too little to stop it. Obama said the price for inaction includes lost lives and homes and hundreds of billions of dollars.

“As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act,” Obama said. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”

At the core of Obama’s plan are new controls on new and existing power plants that emit carbon dioxide — heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. The program also will boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures. Obama called for the U.S. to be a global leader in the search for solutions.

Same planet, different world. June 26:

Whether it’s the heat wave baking the Arctic, the wildfires raging in Colorado, or the rising sea levels that will soon eliminate island nations from the map altogether, the warning signals of runaway climate change are unequivocal. Naturally, environmentalists (and sensible people everywhere) are pleased with the President’s uninhibited use of the bully pulpit in his recent address on climate change. However, Mr. Obama’s unambiguous articulation of the crisis must be understood in two very different contexts.

Politically, the speech was a bold and dramatic warning shot to conservative lawmakers, and a recognition of the potentials of unilateral executive action.

From a climatological perspective, however, Mr. Obama’s address was an exercise in cautious incrementalism, understating both the magnitude and urgency of the danger.

And therein lies the problem. When the calm statement of undisputed scientific facts is too extreme to be politically palatable, our governance is clearly, perhaps fatally, broken.

Warren Senders

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