Monday, March 12, 2012

Obama Equals More than 2C of Global Warming

The night Barack Obama was declared the winner over John McCain in the presidential election of 2008 there were probably many sighs of relief by environmentalists who were sure there would finally be a science-based policy to deal with climate change. And when Obama later appointed his chief science adviser and Secretary of Energy that must have seemed like confirmation. But now that Obama has served as president for more than three years most of the sighs of relief have probably turned into cries of frustration. Not only is there no science-based policy (e.g., reducing emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 in developed countries) but Obama rarely even mentions the climate crisis. Moreover, he boasts of increased oil drilling as if he ran on the crazy drill-baby-drill platform of the Republicans. Where is the man we elected who promised to deal with global warming and was advocating a cap and trade program to help accomplish the goal?

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the nations of the world must begin stringent action before 2017 to have any reasonable chance of keeping the warming to less than 2C, considered by many climate scientists the threshold for dangerous climate change (although many others say the threshold may be even lower). The IEA says that so many fossil fuel power plants and industrial facilities will be built by 2017 that it will be virtually impossible to stay below 2C if the type of action needed has not been started by then. But Obama has agreed with other countries not to start legally binding action until 2020 and the nature of the action has not been specified, it might not include reducing emissions. It therefore appears that regardless of whether Obama is re-elected in the upcoming presidential election or his Republican opponent the world will probably experience dangerous climate change in the not too distant future. What a choice!

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