‘I Refuse To Condemn Our Children To A Planet That’s Beyond Fixing’
President Obama, May 31, 2014
We have heard similar words from President Obama before, beginning with his strong statement when he won the Democratic primaries in 2008 and declared: ““This was the moment when … the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Sadly, for so many reasons, our oceans are still rising, and our planet is not healing…
At ClimateMama we respect and admire all that President Obama has accomplished, as he works under difficult conditions, towards climate solutions. From the huge strides President Obama’s administration has made on automotive and energy efficiency, to his strongest steps so far, the June 2 announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency to greatly limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants..many important programs to address climate change are being put in place by President Obama. The new carbon reduction rules, if enacted as proposed, will effectively reduce US carbon emissions 30% from 2005 levels, by 2030 and should help the US meet it’s goal of a 17% reduction from 2005 levels by 2017.
However…we MUST remind President Obama, and all our elected officials, that we need to go much farther and we need to go faster! Coal is not the only fossil fuel and carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change, there are many others. In particular we are learning more and more about the damaging impacts of methane (natural gas), which, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is more then 80 times more potent of a greenhouse gas then carbon dioxide in a 20 year period, and 34 times more potent over a 100 year period.
The EPA hasn’t started using these numbers yet, there is no indication they will anytime soon, and the percentages they currently use grossly underestimate methane gas in our atmosphere. So, not only are we not using the most recent numbers, we don’t even have in place the proper mechanisms to accurately measure methane emissions nationally or globally. And there are increasingly loud alarm bells ringing, from many scientists, warning us that the fracking juggernaut taking place across the United States may in fact be what pushes us over the “climate cliff.”
2014 has been a powerful year for climate change facts and “in your face” reality. The causes, the world wide risks and the costs we face because of inaction on climate change have been laid bare by the reports of the National Climate Assessment and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In addition, and for many of us, we have also been able to learn a lot about these climate facts through several great documentary series including Years of Living Dangerously and Cosmos.
So, while we applaud and support President Obama on his actions to reduce power plant emissions, we all must help the President move farther and move faster to reduce ALL greenhouse gas emissions. We NEED a Manhattan Project for renewable energy. This will put people to work, slow down climate change, and create a clean, renewable future for us and for our children.
President Obama and EPA Administrator McCarthy have spoken extensively about the health impacts of carbon, particularly from coal fired power plants. These are important facts to raise and share.
“President Obama is highlighting public health because unchecked climate change will worsen smog, tropical diseases and allergies,” said Daniel Weiss, senior fellow at Center for American Progress. “Reducing these health threats and slowing climate change are major benefits of his carbon pollution standard for children and future generations.”
American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said the link between power plant emissions and respiratory illness is clearly established.
“For the 147 million — nearly half of all Americans — already living in areas with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, curbing carbon pollution emissions is a critical step forward for protecting public health from the impacts of climate change happening today,” he said.
But, what isn’t being discussed and what must be, are the negative health impacts of “natural gas” though it’s entire lifecycle – well to wheels” which includes all gas infrastructure required to get gas to market; pipelines, compressor stations and fracking waste and storage too. Natural gas may “burn cleaner” but the process of getting it to the end user is very “dirty” business. We will continue to share more about this. In the short term, you may want to familiarize yourselves with some great resources on fracking and maternal health found at Center for Environmental Health and The Mothers Project.
Too many red flags ..
Natural gas is no bridge and we must help President Obama see this and create the conditions and policies that quickly move us beyond ALL fossil fuels, not just coal.
The United States needs to assume a leadership role as the world works towards climate solutions. Limiting carbon emissions from power plants is a very important way to regain trust and be at the center of “the negotiating table.” At the same time, we need renewed efforts and strong regulations to reduce many of the most powerful greenhouse gases, including methane, and not just carbon dioxide alone.
Save the date, September 20-21, 2014 and join us in NYC for the People’s Climate March, as we support the President and also demand that he and other world leaders take stronger steps to create a clean, livable future for us all.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” — African proverb
Join us…use your power wherever you live. Don’t elect climate deniers to public office, and demand more from ALL our leaders..spiritual, community, political, business…we must all travel this road together…
Nice analysis & I totally agree. And I love that proverb!