Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Obama Vows to Tackle Climate Change in Inaugural Speech

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News.

Feeling the Heat: President Obama said the country had a duty to act on climate change in his speech.

Citing “the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms” President Barack Obama put tackling climate change on a list of goals for his second presidential term today.

In an inaugural speech that served to set an agenda for the next four years, the president said that failure to respond to the threat of climate change “would betray our children and future generations.”

The issue of climate change was noticeably absent during much of the presidential campaign. One debate between the president and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney marked the first time in 24 years in which global warming was not mentioned even once.

Public attention re-focused on the issue in the aftermath of super storm Sandy, when many scientists saw a link between the storm and rising sea levels. Researchers also say the devastating droughts that crippled agriculture from Texas to the Midwest were worsened by global warming. Likewise, wildfires like the ones that tore through Texas in 2011 may have been exacerbated by warming trends.

The president’s words may hearten environmentalists within his base, some of whom had been disappointed by his track record on green issues. As recently as this month, rumors were circulating that Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, left her post in protest of Obama’s position on the Keystone XL pipeline. And just last Friday, the administration announced it would delay new rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

You can read the section of Obama’s speech dedicated to climate issues below courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.


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