In an essay titled “Climate of Denial“, published by the Rolling Stone magazine, the former Vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore criticizes President Barack Obama for failing to do enough to tackle climate change.
Gore does acknowledge the “incredible challenges” that is confronting President Obama and recognizes the climate-friendly efforts Obama has achieved, such as the historic improvements in fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles and for instructing EPA to “move forward on the regulation of global-warming pollution under the Clean Air Act”. But despite this Gore says Obama has “failed” to present “bold action on climate change” and that Obama has only “slightly” moved the country forward on the climate issue. Gore writes:
“But in spite of these and other achievements, President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change. After successfully passing his green stimulus package, he did nothing to defend it when Congress decimated its funding. After the House passed cap and trade, he did little to make passage in the Senate a priority. Senate advocates including one Republican felt abandoned when the president made concessions to oil and coal companies without asking for anything in return. He has also called for a massive expansion of oil drilling in the United States, apparently in an effort to defuse criticism from those who argue speciously that “drill, baby, drill” is the answer to our growing dependence on foreign oil.”
Because Obama failed to pass legislation to limit global-warming pollution in the US he also contributed, Gore writes, to the disappointing failure of securing a global climate treaty at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen (Cop15) in 2009.
“The failure to pass legislation to limit global-warming pollution ensured that the much-anticipated Copenhagen summit on a global treaty in 2009 would also end in failure. The president showed courage in attending the summit and securing a rhetorical agreement to prevent a complete collapse of the international process, but that’s all it was a rhetorical agreement. During the final years of the Bush-Cheney administration, the rest of the world was waiting for a new president who would aggressively tackle the climate crisis and when it became clear that there would be no real change from the Bush era, the agenda at Copenhagen changed from “How do we complete this historic breakthrough?” to “How can we paper over this embarrassing disappointment?”"
Gore also directed strong criticism against Obama for failing to defend the climate science from “dishonest attacks” by the climate deniers and the fossil fuel industry.
“President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public.”
There is really no denying. Since taking office in 2008 Obama has failed to bring the change he promised. His track record has so far been a huge disappointment, especially when it comes to the climate crisis. Gore is just saying what has been on many environmentalists minds for a while now. And yet people who want to see real change on the climate issue doesn’t have many political options. As Dina Cappiello from the Associated Press writes:
“Regardless of views such as Gore’s, environmental voters may see little choice in the 2012 election. Those in the Republican field so far either deny global warming is a man-made problem altogether or say actions to address it would hurt the economy. For Obama, the biggest risk is that some environmental voters may not go to the polls.”
And this is really where the problem lies. The current two-party system in the US is undemocratic and is now also clearly responsible for killing our climate. But it’s a political system that Al Gore still remains a firm supporter of.
Photo credit: Julien Harneis Lord David Puttnam, ambassador for Unicef UK, asks on BBC’s Green Room what kind of price our children and future generations will have to pay for “the three or four carbon-happy generations that have lived before … Continue reading
Earlier this week a group of Greenpeace activists, including the actress Lucy Lawless, scaled an oil drill ship that was due to travel to the Arctic. After spending over 76 hours onboard the ship, Lucy Lawless and the five other … Continue reading