Obama: A Climate Conversation Across the Country

November 15, 2012

With the second major poll I’ve seen this week – we see a seismic shift occurring in American attitudes in regard to climate.  Today, the president gave, in his press conference, about as detailed a statement as he has yet made on his developing approach to the climate issue.

John Zogby in Forbes:

Superstorm Sandy is fueling concerns about climate change and how it’s inflating the costs and risks of extreme weather, according to a new post-election poll from Zogby Analytics. The poll shows key voting groups in the 2012 election – Hispanics, women, young voters – are among those most concerned with confronting climate change now and protecting America’s air, water, wildlife and other natural resources.

These results show the dramatic impact 2012′s extreme weather has had across party lines, with half of Republicans, 73 percent of independents and 82 percent of Democrats saying they’re worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change. It’s a major change from our December 2009 poll, which showed two-thirds of Republicans and nearly half of political independents saying they were ‘not at all concerned’ about global climate change and global warming. The political climate has shifted and members of Congress need to catch up with their constituents.

Among the poll’s findings:

  • Two-thirds of voters (65 percent) say elected officials should take steps now to reduce the impact of climate change on future generations, while just 27 percent say we should wait for more evidence.
  • A strong majority (57 percent) says climate change is adding to the severity of recent extreme weather such as Superstorm Sandy and the summer droughts. Concern is even deeper among key demographics, with 75 percent of Hispanics, 67 percent of African Americans, 65 percent of women, and 65 percent of voters 25-34 agreeing that climate change is fueling America’s extreme weather.
  • Seven in ten voters (69 percent) are greatly or somewhat worried about the growing cost and risks of extreme weather disasters fueled by climate change. Six in ten (58 percent) of Tea Party sympathizers are greatly or somewhat worried, showing a connection between climate action and fiscal responsibility.

Whitehouse Transcript:

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent.  Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather.  What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change?  And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of attacks on carbon?

THE PRESIDENT:  As you know, Mark, we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change.  What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago.  We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago.  We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.

And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions.  And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.

Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks.  That will have an impact.  That will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere.  We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation.  And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.  But we haven’t done as much as we need to.

So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary — a discussion, a conversation across the country about what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.

I don’t know what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue; I also think there are regional differences.  There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices.  And understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that.  I won’t go for that.

If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.

So you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward.

Q    Sounds like you’re saying, though, in the current environment, we’re probably still short of a consensus on some kind of attack.

THE PRESIDENT:  That I’m pretty certain of.  And, look, we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike.  Let’s see if we can resolve that.  That should be easy.  This one is hard — but it’s important because one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters; we just put them off as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now.  And I think what — based on the evidence we’re seeing, is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if we don’t do something about it.

19 Responses to “Obama: A Climate Conversation Across the Country”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    The Climate Reality Dirty Energy – Dirty Weather 24hr streamcast is on right now.
    Talking about Western US right now; CA and BC starting at 11PM EDT

    • rayduray Says:


      I’m listening now. Interesting new site for me. Thanks for the link. 🙂

      • MorinMoss Says:

        Yah, would have been smart of me to actually post the link myself.
        I’ll plead a long day at work, incipient old age and just your typical brain fart.

        So far, this one is much more interesting than last year’s Climate Reality – I found that one too dry, preachy and repititive.

        • rayduray Says:

          This is a once a year deal?

          I’m in Bend, OR. I just contacted a friend up in Nanaimo, B.C. and he’s watching as well. I’ll see if I can weave him into our conversation here.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            So far, yes. This is the 2nd 24hr info and outreach project backed by Gore.
            The 1st was called 24hrs of Reality and was broadcast / streamed in Sept 2011.

            They’ve now started a project called Reality Drop where they collect questions and myths and post links that rebut or explain.
            This is similar to what Skeptical Science does and they use some of SkS own articles.

            Here’s one: http://realitydrop.org/myths/76

            I sure hope they’re screening and fact-checking the links carefully.

          • rayduray Says:

            Hi Morin,

            I like their motto: “Spread Truth. Destroy Denial.” 🙂

            I’ve just watched the first episode of Oliver Stone’s new series, “The Untold History of the United States”. He does a good job of blowing up the myth that the U.S. won World War II. In truth, the U.S. was largely a bystander as the Soviet Union bore the brunt of war in Europe. http://tinyurl.com/aenwwjb

            I appreciated quite a bit of the Climate Reality programming. My only real disappointment was Gore’s dishonesty regarding the corrupt “cap & trade” nonsense that has been such a waste of ratepayer money in Europe and thankfully hasn’t been permitted to become a new Wall Street swindle here in the U.S.

            James Balog’s “Chasing Ice” was the subject of a Democracy NOW! segment on Thursday: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/15/chasing_ice_new_film_captures_melting

            Also mentioned on Democracy NOW! is an upcoming book by “Shock Doctrine” author Naomi Klein on the subject of climate change. Should be worth considering…

  2. rayduray Says:

    Re: “So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation…”

    Heaven help us.This is the “action” plan?

    We’re doomed.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      My reaction exactly.
      I hope the “conversation” he plans to have isn’t going to be with the oceans.

      While they might be more attentive than the GOP, I doubt he’ll have more success than King Canute.

      • rayduray Says:


        I don’t think Peter has gotten the memo yet that Barack Obama is selling out his progressive base to Wall St.

        Any fool looking at Obama’s four year record ought to be able to understand that Obama is in the business of betraying people like us.

        Obama needs to be opposed, not coddled, by the naive Left.

        As Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report observed, Obama is not the lesser of two evils. He’s the more effective of two evils.


  3. rayduray Says:

    A friend recommends this doom-and-gloom report as an antidote to silly suggestions that the species can save itself from its insane greed and utter superficiality:


    If I were a gambling man, I’d bet on the human population of Planet Earth to finally stabilize at somewhere below 1 billion individuals after the year 2300. They’ll be staring at a lot of cemeteries.

  4. Synopsis from President Obama:

    I believe climate change is real. We have an obligation to future generations.

    As President for the last four years, I doubled fuel efficiency standards for cars built 15 years in the future. If, say, a President after me is a Republican before 2025, they could reverse that. Or, if it’s just too darned expensive, it can be ignored.

    I’ve also doubled our non-hydro clean energy production – from 3% to 6%. We now only use about 83% of our total energy mix in fossil fuels instead of the 86% it was in 2002. A lot of that came from the stimulus packages, which are now ending. And simultaneously I’m greatly increasing gas and oil fracking rights across the nation.

    Yeah, I guess we haven’t done as much as we need to do.

    So, that’s why, after four years as President, I’m going to get together a discussion group as to what else we can do. But – we can’t really do anything that will hurt our extremely fragile economy. I refuse to do that. And it’ll have to pass a Republican-controlled House. You know, I’m not sure what other Republicans and Democrats think about all this. We’ll have a national conversation about it, and I’m so sure vested interests won’t try to sway public opinion or our political leaders that it doesn’t need to be mentioned.

    You can be sure you’ll hear more pretty words from me in the next few months and years as to figuring out an agenda, though. I can promise you that.

    Right now we need to focus on the “fiscal cliff”. That’ll be an easy problem to fix. Our kids will see the impacts of what we do or don’t do regarding climate change, however.

    • rayduray Says:

      Re: “You can be sure you’ll hear more pretty words from me in the next few months and years as to figuring out an agenda…”

      We’re still hearing astonishingly empty words from Bill Clinton and Al Gore, so why should Barry be any better?

      I wanted to reach out and throttle someone when anAl Gore surrogate started trotting out the entirely discredited cap-and-trade swindle once again during his climate reality telethon. Talk about destroying your credibility instantly. That did it for me regarding the centimillionaire private equity swindler Al Gore.

      • MorinMoss Says:

        Jim Hansen favors fee-and-dividend over cap-and-trade.
        Any idea if that’s a more feasible approach?

        • rayduray Says:

          Re: “Jim Hansen favors fee-and-dividend over cap-and-trade.
          Any idea if that’s a more feasible approach?”

          I read Dr. Hansen’s plan for fee-and-dividend in “Storms of My Grandchildren” and find it absolutely flawless as a rational, intelligent, properly incentivizing strategy.

          It’s profound in its simplicity. It’s economical in its administration. Its equitable.


          Wall Street hates the idea. And because Wall Street swindlers hate the idea, their prostitutes across Washington, D.C. are in perfect lockstep in opposition to the plan.

          You see, swindlers rule America. Therefore Dr. Hansen must fail.

          We’re so doomed.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            Thanks, Ray. I’ll check out his book.

          • rayduray Says:


            James Hansen’s book, “Storms of My Grandchildren”, describes the superstorms that Hansen said the models were predicting for 2050 when the climate simply started to come uncorked and heavenly weirdness creates societal chaos.

            He predicted things like the Midwest Drought of 2012 and Hurricane Sandy.

            In other words, the nightmares Hansen was predicting for 40 years from now are already in the history books.

            We’re doomed, I tell ya.

  5. danolner Says:

    If you don’t take the electorate with you, at least partly, you don’t get anywhere with climate policy. Particularly in the US where pressure will need to bear down on Congressional elections in 2 year’s time. How do you think that’s going to happen? Or are you all happy with the way the climate conversation currently functions in the US?

    That said, it could be wiffly nonsense – but if (big if) an Obama government actually works to push that conversation e.g. through their existing political network, applying the same pressure in 2 years that came via Sandy, that seems like a plan to me.

    *hides under blanket*

  6. […] to pay a fee for the greenhouse gases they emit. It is gaining interest as lawmakers and President Barack Obama pledge to simplify the corporate tax code and try to raise revenue to narrow the deficit. The […]

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