Monday, November 30, 2015

President Obama on the Stakes of Climate Talks

He warns that on climate control, there is the danger of being too late-he's channeling the late Martin Luther King Jr. here.

"Obama casts climate talks as world's last best chance There is such a thing as being too late,' the president warns, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr."

"President Barack Obama urged the world to consider the climate talks that kicked off here Monday as potentially the last chance to make a meaningful impact on combating climate change."

"What the world needs to agree on, Obama told the 150-odd other world leaders gathered in Paris for the two-week conference, is “not a stopgap solution, but a long term strategy that gives the world confidence in a low-carbon future.”

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Still, he presents things as not hopeless-if we act now it won't be too late.

Obama quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “There is such a thing as being too late.”

“When it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us. But if we act here, now, if we place our short term interests behind the air that our children will breathe and the water our children will drink,” Obama said. “Then we will not be too late for them.”

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This is kind of the best way to frame things. The urgency of now, but its not too late-which then leads to resignation.

Of course, what kind of accord we can get remains to be seen. The President is representing our country but one of our own political parties literally denies that climate change even exists.

And the fact is that the willingness of most countries to take strong steps is more or less proportionate to where they are in terms of economic development.

"The scheduled two-week summit, housed in a conference center in the suburbs of the French capital, will be seeking a collective, non-binding agreement among nations setting their own plans to cut carbon emissions, largely through switching to renewable energy production over fossil fuels. The burden falls differently on countries at various stages of development: The United States and China, the two largest carbon emitters, are pledging to cut their own production and increase clean up efforts, while developing countries worry that they will be left behind by restrictions that keep them from ever reaching that level of industrialization."

"Obama addressed this imbalance directly, warning that all would suffer if the planet continues to grow warmer at its current pace, but that smaller economies could suffer most from drought, famine and other environmental impacts."

"A future of rising seas and temperatures, Obama said, “is not one of strong economies, nor is it where fragile states can find their footing. That future is one that we have the power to change, right here, right now. But only if we rise to this moment.”

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So countries at lower stages of industrialization are less willing to go along. The idea of this agreement will e that the big carbon emitters-the US and China-will lead the way.

It is also worth celebrating that this is being done in Paris just a few weeks after the attacks.

"Obama noted the backdrop of the Nov. 13 terror attacks, casting a climate agreement as a rebuke to the terrorists, much as he did in speaking at his press conference with French President François Hollande at the White House last week."

"We salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on," Obama said, calling it, "an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us for building the future we want for our children."

"Through our presence here today, we show that we are stronger than the terrorists," German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed in her own remarks.

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"As the agreement being sought is nonbinding,, at least it won't require Congressional authorization to go through. While two thirds of Americans see climate change as a serious threat, the GOP is still in the climate denial stages."

"Since the agreement being sought is non-binding, it wouldn’t require congressional authorization if it comes through. Back home, there does seem to be a growing sense of the threat posed by climate change, with two-thirds of people calling it a serious threat in a new ABC News poll out Monday morning — but the sense of what to do about it isn’t falling where Obama would like: Just 43 percent of people believe most scientists agree on the causes (the number within the scientific community is close to 99 percent agreement about humans causing the changes), and only 47 percent, say the federal government should do more than it is doing now to try to deal with global warming, down from a high of 70 percent under the Bush administration eight years ago."

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reflected those sentiments in an interview on “Morning Joe” Monday morning, calling Obama’s warning of global warming as a top threat “one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever heard in politics.”

“When we have large groups of people that want to blow up every one of our cities, that want to destroy our country, that want to kill our people, and he’s worried about global warming,” Trump said. “I think it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen, or perhaps most naïve.”

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 Trump here is just giving the standard GOP talking points on climate change. They see the whole thing as just an obsession of point headed college professors or something. 

Again, you see that the GOP has won some major political battles here. Even though two thirds of Americans think climate change is a serious problem only 47% think the federal government should actually do something about it-so there are 20% of Americans who think it's a serous problem and yet don't want to do anything about it. 

And just like the lies the Bushies used to get us into Iraq worked as most Americans ended up believing there was a link between Saddam and 9/11, so now under half of Americans know that scientists overwhelmingly agree about the occurrence of climate change. 

But while the media is very concerned about calling out Trump on his whoppers, the kind of lies the GOP has told for years about climate change or the link between Saddam and 9/11 are ones the media considers respectable lies.

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