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Excerpt: "Forward On Climate states, 'we need President Obama to commit to that fight with all the ambition and determination he can bring.' But why do they put so must faith in Obama's character and power? How are they so easily assuaged by his soaring rhetoric?"

The Presidents' Day rally on climate change will be the largest in history. (photo: Sierra Club)
The Presidents' Day rally on climate change will be the largest in history. (photo: Sierra Club)


Can America Go "'Forward' on Climate"?

By Adbusters

16 February 13

 

The Biggest Climate campaign in History eclipses the elephant in the room.

he Sierra Club, Bill Mckibben's 350.org fight-climate-change crew, 130 other organizations, plus thousands of Americans from all walks are meeting at Noon on Sunday, February 17 in Washington, D.C. to make "Forward on Climate" the largest climate rally in history.

Their first goal is to convince Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline once and for all, for it could unlock vast amounts of additional carbon the planet simply cannot afford to burn. But his final decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will only be a test of whether he's truly serious about walking his talk. The Forward on Climate Rally will put unparalleled pressure on Obama to act on his word, and in an unprecedented way. It is their hope that he will do all in his power to face, and combat, global warming.

But before America can move "Forward" on climate issues - they must "face" the facts. Ignorance and denial abound in individuals and institutions across the country (there are, alas, institutions like Heartland dedicated to perpetuating skepticism and denial about climate change). A 2007 Harris poll found that 71% of Americans believe that continued burning of fossil fuels would cause the climate to change. By 2009 this figure dropped to 51%, and fell again in 2011 to just 44%. According to Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, this is "among the largest shifts over a short period of time seen in recent public opinion history."

Meanwhile, record droughts, food scarcity, floods, severe super-storms, billions in damage, lives lost, and the hottest year on record in the United States have all come to pass in 2012. The amount of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere has increased by 40 percent in a century, due to our perpetual burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. NASA's James Hansen explains that business as usual - such as burning the tar sands bitumen - will guarantee "game over for the climate."

But America could be a major leader in a worldwide clean energy revolution, that is, if Obama chooses the people, the land, and the future of the planet, over corporate interest. This clean energy revolution could transform the nation, cut carbon pollution drastically, and resist or even reverse the inertia of impending climate disaster. Forward On Climate states, "we need President Obama to commit to that fight with all the ambition and determination he can bring." But why do they put so must faith in Obama's character and power? How are they so easily assuaged by his soaring rhetoric?

The president spoke somberly about climate change for half an hour this Tuesday during his State of the Union speech, earning him brownie points with some, but the eloquence of his promises have never been something to be contested. Despite his rhetoric, and avowal to address global warming and not betray future generations, he fails to face the elephant in the room. With less than five percent of the world's population, it is the USA that consumes a quarter of the world's fossil fuels. Where is his "mea culpa"moment? Instead, Obama shows no recognition of America's five-planet lifestyle ... no recognition that a small slice of the Earth's population consumes a lions share, and wrecks the rest.

And yet on an even deeper level, Obama's invocation of the need for "sustainable energy sources" suggests that he believes fossil fuels themselves are to blame. And perhaps he's not at fault. This is what most people believe. But what about the root of our climatic, environmental problem: the exploitative economic paradigm we operate, the political stagnation that goes with that, the social inequalities we are forced to endure, the cult of hyper-consumption that defines American culture - it is this systemic destructiveness that endorses ravenous fossil fuel use in the first place.

Until Obama, and the activists putting pressure on him, stop confounding the symptoms with the disease, there will be a stark limit to how effective, enduring and powerful a revolutionary movement can be.


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-28 # Abigail 2013-02-16 10:32
The earth has experienced huge changes in climate long before man stepped out of his ape-suit. We have glacial striations on rocks in Mexico, we have coral remnants near the Great Lakes...left there long before man appeared on earth. Why man in his hubris thinks he has powers to control the climate must result from lack of ability to imagine a world without him.
 
 
+16 # Helen 2013-02-16 12:13
Sorry, Abigail, but science is based on evidence, not hubris. Please go to http://climaterealityproject.org and watch Climate 101 with Bill Nye, the Science Guy.
 
 
+11 # tbcrawford 2013-02-16 12:15
...man in his hubris thinks he has powers to control the climate ...
I agree that our hubris is at the center of this denial, but I am sorry you can't equate the current findings that this time the changing climate is different...and far worse. We can't control climate but we can slow its change, possibly limit its potentially destructive effects. I urge everyone to view the NOVA film, Eyes from the Sky, that connects the planet's climate dots--displays the incredible intricacy of interdependent systems that no super computer could create. If we do nothing, it's almost all over for us. However, as in the past, the planet will survive...with a completely new design.
 
 
+4 # Small Family Farmer 2013-02-16 13:25
Abigail the problem here is the speed at which these changes are happening. That's what makes the current event different then those in the past. On a whole, complex organisms don't deal well with rapid changes. We are currently in a period of serious climate change that has only taken a little over 200 years to ramp up. Add that to the fact that it took millions of years to get the first billion of us on the planet and a little over 200 years to add an additional 6 billion and we have a significant challenge for humanity.

Truth is Abigail, we don't have the power to control climate but as the species that has made more changes to the planet than any other species, we certainly seem to have made uncontrolled changes to the climate.
 
 
+9 # American_Idle 2013-02-16 13:28
Hubris is believing that we can get away with disrupting the geological carbon cycle 70 times faster than what caused the Paleocene-Eocen e Thermal Maximum Mass Extinction.
 
 
+11 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-02-16 12:19
Abigal, the problem is not man's hubris in trying to "control the climate" it is man's ability to destroy the climate.
 
 
-13 # Smokey 2013-02-16 13:40
The problem is economic injustice.

Some folks waste a lot of energy while others are homeless in alleys in India
and Mexico. The developing nations need to raise per capita energy consumption, in order to lift millions of people out of poverty.

The limousine liberals - who have never done much of anything for the poor - run around screaming, "Turn down your thermostats! Raise the price of gasoline! Tell the poor people to stop having so many babies! We want to save the polar bears and our vacation homes in snow country."

Climate change? Yes, it's a problem.
So, please, don't send me lots of brochures from the Audubon Society.

Will the limousine liberals solve the climate change problem while supporting economic and social justice?

You can hear my laughter. The limousine liberals have failed before and they'll fail again. We need new leadership in the climate change movement.
 
 
+1 # awen 2013-02-19 06:40
Smokey - The majority of the people - say 99% - who showed up at the rally in DC are not "limosine liberals" and your put-down label is just another way of not getting your butt off of the couch and getting out in the street and YELLING for change - climate action and social justice go together - and the people who actually show up know this.
 
 
+2 # tomo 2013-02-16 14:33
It's surprising that four years have not sufficed to establish that Obama, for all his charm, is incapable of acting from principle. He is remarkably like the good looking and well spoken young man who takes from the trusting widow the deposit to re-roof her house, and then runs off. No new roof.
 
 
-4 # Smokey 2013-02-17 14:30
[quote name="tomo"]It' s surprising that four years have not sufficed to establish that Obama, for all his charm, is incapable of acting from principle.

Despite all of his faults, I have more faith in Obama than I do in the limousine liberals who have been running around Washington, DC, shouting about climate change.

Obama has been a community organizer in some poor neighborhoods in Chicago. He's concerned about problems like racism. He has some understanding of economic justice.

A limousine liberal can talk for an hour (February 17) about energy issues without acknowledging that there are people in Washington, DC, and in other towns, who are freezing to death.

Note to President Obama: Do the right thing. Trust your instincts. Don't let the conservatives or the conservationist s - in some ways, they're the same crowd - shape America's energy and environmental policies.

We need new leadership in the climate change movement.
 

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