Tonight’s State of the Union Address represents an excellent opportunity for President Obama to build upon his actions in his first term to solve the climate crisis and reclaim American leadership on this most crucial challenge. During his first four years, President Obama oversaw unprecedented investments in clean energy, improved energy efficiency standards in automobiles, and crucial carbon pollution regulations for new coal plants. While President Obama’s success in these areas exceeds those of his predecessors, much more, obviously, must be done. We are facing a rapidly closing window of opportunity to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis and steer our country and—with U.S. leadership—the world, on a path of sustainability.
In 2012, it became clear that the global warming pollution we spew into the atmosphere at a rate of 90 million tons per day is already fueling dirty weather right here in the United States. From a drought that parched more than 60% of our nation to soaring temperatures that made 2012 the hottest year ever recorded in the history of our country, to the massive fires in the West, to the worst outbreak of West Nice Virus in our history, to the melting of half of the North Polar Ice Cap last summer, to billions in climate-related disaster damage, to Superstorm Sandy, we must heed our planet’s warning.
President Obama has already spoken eloquently on this issue in his masterful Inaugural Address – now he must act boldly. It is essential that the President continue to discuss the climate crisis and its impacts, and it is even more important that he take all possible actions to solve this existential threat. Even with Congressional inaction, President Obama has many avenues of change open to him and I encourage him to pursue them all without delay.
Unfortunately, even though public opinion now firmly supports the scientific consensus that dirty energy causes dirty weather, too many of our politicians continue to treat this topic as merely a political issue. In a recent interview, Senator Marco Rubio – who will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union – denied the reality of the climate crisis, stating that “the climate is always changing” and that there is “reasonable debate” on the nature of humanity’s contribution to global warming. I hope that Senator Rubio and his ideological allies will reconsider these views, especially considering the threat posed by strengthening storms and rising seas to Florida and many other states across America.