Today, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance released the final portion of their Fifth Assessment Report. Their conclusion is clear: we have all the tools we need to solve the climate crisis, but we must act quickly and decisively to stave off climatic disaster.
Solving this crisis will require cooperation, and bold action from all sectors—businesses must adopt a more sustainable form of capitalism, governments must regulate emissions and adopt a price on carbon in markets, and people must use their voting power to put a price on climate denial in politics in order to ensure that their nations -- and global civilization -- move toward a sustainable future.
The new report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the world's preeminent group of climate scientists—represents even more definitive evidence of the growing urgency to immediately reduce the spewing of global warming pollution. The atmosphere can no longer be used as an open sewer. The costs of carbon pollution are clear: decreasing crop yields, more destructive storms, the spreading of tropical diseases to temperate latitudes, rising seas, more climate refugees, failures of governance, increasing floods, deepening droughts, more destructive fires and heat waves -- all contributing to the new reality of the global climate crisis. Put together, these factors are already affecting the lives of millions around the world by driving them from their homes, disrupting their livelihoods, and in some cases, further straining destabilized regions.
The consensus is clear. We need an immediate and determined shift to a clean, renewable economy. The continued mass burning of fossil fuels is inconsistent with a healthy, prosperous future for our civilization.
I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Gail Kerr. As a journalist, Gail's intuition was unsurpassed. She possessed an uncanny ability to dig into a story, understand its context and deliver articles that cut through the daily conversation and brought important issues to light.
I have many fond memories of Gail during the 1992 & 1996 campaigns. National campaigns are exhausting endeavors. You're always on the move and it’s easy to feel separated from your hometown. Between pointed questions, Gail and I would often discuss the latest from Nashville. Her insights and anecdotes helped me feel connected to home, even when I was thousands of miles away.
It is extremely disturbing that the government of Malaysia -- by continuing to press this case beyond the bounds of reason, let alone the bounds of justice -- has used the courts to short-circuit the political process.
The entire world understands with clarity that Anwar Ibrahim was at the verge of running for an office that would have given him serious leverage for advocating greatly needed reform, had he won the election, that his election by the people was likely, and that it was the likely judgment of the electorate that inspired this action by those presently holding power over the administration of "justice."
The court, by accelerating its calendar, reached its verdict in a rush -- early enough to prevent Anwar from running in the election. The calendar of events is itself a contextual indictment of the decision.
By behaving in the manner it did, the court has, of course, invited speculation by reasonable friends of Malaysia in the rest of the world that its independence of judgment and judicial temperament have been influenced by political fear of, and intimidation by, the individuals now in control of executive power in Kuala Lumpur.
The importance of the rule of law should be deemed important for the reputation of Malaysia as a nation within the community of nations.
Moreover, the integrity of Malaysia's parliament -- a crucial asset for the future of Malaysia's respect in the world community -- would be diminished if this decision were to be accepted as "legitimate" by the elected representatives of the people of Malaysia.
In short, future prospects for accomplishing meaningful and necessary change on behalf of the people of Malaysia would be seriously depreciated if the capricious and slanderous imprisonment of an individual who has a universally respected understanding and affinity for the democratic process throughout the world is tolerated.
His pending appeal offers what could be a last chance for Malaysia to make things right. The stakes for Malaysia could hardly be higher. Please do not be deceived. The eyes of the world are focused on what will come next.
Today marks the passing of one of the greatest leaders and visionaries in the history of our world, Nelson Mandela. President Mandela has already been immortalized as an enduring symbol of compassion and courage. I had the honor of working with Madiba often during my time as co-chairman of the U.S.-South Africa Binational Commission. Each and every time I was with him, I was awed by his commanding yet graceful presence.
Along with hundreds of millions, I still vividly remember the day Madiba was released from Pollsmoor Prison just outside of Cape Town. My son and I were home in Nashville; the only ones awake early on a Sunday morning. We sat on the couch and watched as Madiba was set free. I remember thinking that whatever important milestones my children and grandchildren witness in the coming century, few will rival this one.
Madiba once wrote, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
We should take a moment today to bow our heads and pay our respects to an extraordinarily courageous man who truly changed the world for the better and, in the process, inspired us all.
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an important milestone in the study of climate science. It reaffirms the overwhelming consensus that global warming is occurring and is caused by humans. I commend the authors of this important study on their dedication and hard work.
The climate crisis is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. From not only the warming of the earth with higher global temperatures, but also from strengthening storms and expanding droughts to melting ice and rising seas, the costs of carbon pollution are already being felt by governments, corporations, taxpayers and families around the world. The climate crisis will affect everything that we love and alter the course of our future.
Now, more than ever, we must come together to solve this global crisis. We must act decisively, rise to the occasion and solve this monumental challenge.
It is time -- indeed overdue -- to put an economic price on carbon and a political price on denial.
Today's announcement by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is an important step forward for our nation and our planet. From now on, future coal- and gas-fired power plants must take responsibility for their global warming pollution by reducing or capturing their overall emissions.
This is a critical achievement for President Barack Obama and his administration. In the face of an intransigent and inactive Congress, the President has made halting the climate crisis a priority. The policies announced today, combined with the rest of the President's Climate Action Plan, will put us on the path toward solving the climate crisis, but Congress must also soon face the reality of the situation.
Three years ago, Congress failed to put a price on carbon and, in doing so, allowed global warming pollution to continue unabated. We have seen the disturbing consequences that the climate crisis has to offer—from a drought that covered 60% of our nation to Superstorm Sandy which wreaked havoc and cost the taxpayers billions, from wildfires spreading across large areas of the American West to severe flooding in cities all across our country—we have seen what happens when we fail to act. We need a price on carbon. We need it now.
Today, my dear friend and ally Lois DeBerry passed away after a long battle with cancer. A tireless public servant, Lois served the people of Tennessee with integrity and dedication for over four decades. Lois was highly-respected by her peers for her ability to forge consensus amongst ideologically divided political communities.
During my first Senate campaign, Lois became a trusted friend and adviser. Years later in 2000, I was honored when Lois agreed to deliver one of the speeches for my nomination during the Democratic National Convention. It is a moment I will never forget.
With Lois's passing, Tennessee lost one of its great leaders and visionaries. I will miss her tireless efforts on behalf of Tennesseans, her steadfast support and our longtime friendship.
This was a terrific and historic speech, by far the best address on climate by any president ever.
I applaud the new measures announced by President Barack Obama this afternoon to help solve the climate crisis – particularly the decision to limit global warming pollution from existing as well as new power plants.
Following the important pledges he made in both his inaugural address and State of the Union speech earlier this year, and the historic gains in renewable energy and fuel efficiency that the President delivered in his first term, the policy changes he announced today represent important steps forward in the battle to halt catastrophic climate disruption. Most importantly, President Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to establish regulations on the amount of global warming pollution existing fossil fuel plants can pour into our atmosphere.
This action – if followed by skillful and thorough execution of the plan – has the potential to fundamentally alter the course of our nation’s energy infrastructure development and help to promote a sustainable future. On the international front, this action will bolster U.S. credibility and moral authority in negotiations with other countries.
After the country’s hottest year on record, the record melting of the arctic ice cap and disruption of the Northern Hemisphere jet stream and storm track, a crippling drought and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage from climate-related extreme weather events over just the past two years, we are already paying the price of carbon pollution. It is clear that bold and comprehensive action is needed now.
President Obama’s proposals are in keeping with the current political reality; inaction and denial have consumed Congress. But the climate crisis requires a new political reality: one marked by a willingness to accept solutions commensurate with the challenge.
I hope the President's speech will be followed up by a decision to make this challenge a centerpiece of his leadership during his remaining three and a half years in office. The hard truth is that the maximum that now seems politically feasible still falls short of the minimum necessary to actually solve the climate crisis. Continued and constant use of the bully pulpit, determined follow-through on the steps announced today, and additional steps in the months ahead can change the political reality and build a bipartisan consensus for the broader changes that are needed urgently.
As President Obama said today, history will judge the present generation by our success or failure in meeting and surmounting this existential challenge.
So I urge the nation to follow President Obama’s lead and take the positive steps he announced today, but to keep fighting. We’ve got a lot more work to do.
The climate crisis brought to a local level: As temperatures rise and ice melts, local communities are being forced to adapt to a new reality. Conditions and environments that could once be considered constant are now unpredictable. New York Times
This weekend’s meeting between President Obama and new Chinese President Xi Jingping is an important step forward for both countries. The two will have plenty to discuss including the state of the global economy, recent high-profile cyberattacks from Chinese government backed organizations and, of course, the climate crisis. It is crucial for both parties that progress be made to halt the rise of global temperatures. Recent announcements from China that they will initiate a carbon-pricing scheme are an important step in the right direction, but it is only a first step. Washington Post
An incredible discovery in China has altered our understanding of primate history. An ancient primate skeleton has been discovered to be 55 million years old, 8 million years older than the previous record holder. The discovery is further evidence that primates emerged shortly after the dinosaurs and originated in Asia, not Africa. The discovery brings scientists one-step closer to understanding the origins of humanity. Fascinating. NY Times
You have to see it to believe it! Scientists at the University of Minnesota have controlled a mini drone helicopter with their mind. The controller puts an EEG cap over his or her head and electrodes translate brain activity into electrical signals that control the helicopter’s flight. The potential applications are boundless: rescue drones, precision agriculture, and military reconnaissance, just to name a few. Discover Magazine
After years of exciting developments and advances, 3D printing is starting to hit the mainstream. Specifically, Ford and General Electric have integrated additive manufacturing into their manufacturing processes. By "printing" components, these companies have been able to cut their costs by saving on material inputs and labor, while also allowing greater customization. Brings up profound questions for the future of labor. Wall Street Journal
America lost a great leader this week in Senator Frank Lautenberg. At the time of his death, Senator Lautenberg was leading the charge on reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Surprisingly, and disturbingly, the United States's current regulatory framework on toxic chemicals is woefully inadequeate. While Americans are exposed to thousands of potentially toxic chemicals on a daily basis—even in the womb—the Environmental Protection Agency regulates only five! Senator Lautenberg’s proposal included a provision to require companies to prove that a chemical is safe before it can be sold. The United States Congress should honor the memory of Senator Frank Lautenberg by passing this long overdue, commonsense regulatory reform. Houston Chronicle
Big polluters are trying to shirk their responsibility and block efforts to make them pay for their reckless pollution of the atmosphere. With stronger storms, bigger droughts, widespread flooding and scorching wildfires, we’re already paying the price OF carbon. Now it’s time to put on a price ON carbon. Guardian
Thousands forced to flee their homes as flooding surges across Central Europe. Unless we act immediately to slow the rise of global temperatures, this type of event will become more frequent. Climate Progress
Fascinating presentation from Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins on the state of global Internet trends. Presentation