Barack Obama - will he seize the moment on climate change?


Barack Obama
Why do they continually do this finger pointing - is it a twitch

As President Barack Obama interprets what the election told him about his priorities for a second term, how much weight will he give to global climate change? On his very crowded list of pressing issues, where will climate action rank?

It should be near the top of his agenda. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with the U.S. public increasingly accepting the stark reality of climate change, he has an unprecedented opportunity to take bold action.
President Obama sent an encouraging signal in his victory speech in Chicago when he said, "We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt... that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet." After a campaign in which he had largely ignored the issue, Obama's mention of climate change at such a key moment was striking. One of the benefits of political campaigns is that our leaders learn things outside the Beltway.

If he follows through on his soaring election-night rhetoric, the president will find public support for action. A series of public opinion polls conducted during the campaign by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications found that 70 percent of Americans now accept that climate change is real; 54 percent acknowledge it is caused mostly by human activities; 74 percent believe it is influencing our weather; 57 percent say it is a growing threat to people in the United States; and 58 percent say they're worried about it.

The Yale polls were confirmed by similar results in October from the Pew Research Center, among others. And these polls were conducted before Hurricane Sandy, which almost certainly would have increased all of these numbers.

So, what can President Obama do to cultivate, mobilize and build upon this thus-far largely silent majority that supports action on climate change?

There is overwhelming public support for renewable energy, which along with efficiency, is the most sustainable way to achieve greater energy independence and reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming. On the eve of the first presidential debate, an independent poll by Hart Research Associates found that 92 percent of registered voters, including 84 percent of Republicans, considered it important for the nation to develop solar power.