Many of us know that this week has been pretty eventful at our nation’s capital — the Supreme Court declared a discriminatory section of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, thereby allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and issued a ruling upholding the U.S. District Court’s ruling regarding Proposition 8, thereby re-allowing same-sex marriage in California, and an “unruly mob” of Texans contributed to the filibuster of a bill that would virtually ban abortion in the state of Texas, but I’m here to give you the lowdown on the climate change address that President Obama gave June 25 to Georgetown University and the rest of the world.
The president did a great job of telling the American story — the one where our country faces a problem and then overcomes it with our innovation and dedication that is recognized around the world. But this time he put a global warming spin on the story, unlike what any other president has done. The president began his address by mentioning the numerous devastating disasters we’ve had in the last few years, but instead of just leaving it at that, he told us that it’s costing us, the taxpayers, money. Millions, if not billions, have been put into rebuilding communities and taking precautions for future disasters. He went on to mention the children, of course, to touch everyone’s hearts and give meaning to this important cause — without a planet, there is no future for the children. Then he clearly laid out his simple plan for America’s sustainable future:
• Limit pollutants that cause global warming (aka greenhouse gases) from new and existing power plants, and build cars that burn less fuel.
• Cut energy waste from our homes and businesses.
• Help states and cities prepare for the impacts of climate change.
• Be a leader in this time of crisis for the rest of the world.
• Provide support to countries that may be unable to face these large changes so suddenly.
• Collaborate with other countries that are leading the race in sustainability.
One main point that stuck out was his statement that he will not approve the Keystone XL pipeline if it increases greenhouse gas emissions. This is huge. If you read my previous op-ed, you know the impact of the pipeline, and it’s much larger than just emissions! He also mentioned natural gas as the “bridge fuel” to more sustainable options. Many environmentalists will agree that this is not a good choice — hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is very detrimental to our waterways and aquifers. But enough with the negatives — One of my favorite positive moments was near the end when he encouraged everyone to “Invest! Divest!” He literally told Americans to get fossil fuels out of their portfolios, which is relevant to everyone. I bet he’ll get an earful about that back at the office.
The main message that was recognized across the environmental community was that we’re at risk, we need to do something now, and we don’t have time to wait around for other countries to do it. Many are saying that it’s about time that Washington caught up with other states and cities that are doing revolutionary initiatives with sustainability and climate change. This shouldn’t be a fight, but the president will, and does, face lots of opposition based on his stances on natural gas, the Keystone XL pipeline, renewable energy, and climate change as a fact. This opposition comes from other countries, Congress, various industries, and even some of his constituents. That being said, we don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. We need to act now and together.