State of the Union: A Missed Opportunity on Climate
Ned Stowe, FCNL
Last night, once again, President Bush treated climate change as just another side show, just as he has for the past seven years. Wars, threats of war, and the economy again got most of the attention. The concern for energy policy and the climate got its paragraph.
But climate change is not a side show. It is a rapidly advancing global crisis that is already harming millions in the most vulnerable places around the world. It threatens the well-being of future generations the world over. This, frankly, is bigger than al Qaeda or Iraq. Lots bigger.
The US economy, driven by fossil fuels over the past century, is the leading cause of the climate crisis that humanity faces today. Yet, with effective government policies and investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, the US economy can be turned around to help lead the world toward a sustainable future.
But in last night's speech, President Bush once again ignored the singular US moral obligation to take the first steps, as the leading global greenhouse gas emitting country, to cut its emissions. There was no call to begin capping or taxing emissions - which are the most powerful and effective ways to shift an economy toward conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. There was no call to mobilize the full resources of the nation at the order of magnitude that is needed to address this unprecedented crisis.
Rather, energy and climate were dutifully given their little paragraph, buried in a speech that will soon be forgotten. And, if the president has his way, another year will go by, business as usual for the fossil fuel industries and other major greenhouse gas emitters.
Scientists warn us that we do not have much time to turn things around so as to prevent the worst things from happening. We, the American people must demand better - if not for ourselves, then for our grandchildren. With our voices raised, perhaps Congress will lead where our president won't.