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President Obama held a press conference earlier today. Perhaps due to coming from a city still reeling from a climate disruption fed disaster, Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times White House reporter asked a strong question on climate change.

And, the President gave a long ... and partial ... and strong ... and troubling answer ... all of which merits examination, discussion, criticism, and support.

 Here is Mark Landler's interaction with President Obama:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just going to knock through a couple of others. Mark Landler? Where's Mark? There he is, right in front of me.

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 a tax on carbon?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, 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, there are many things to note about this exchange.
  • Landler's question is thoughtful and pointed on a climate change issue.  Such questioning of the President has been all too rare from the WH press corps.  It will be interesting to see whether other reporters seek to raise C3 ('climate catastrophe cliff') even as the punditry builds tension over the created 'fiscal cliff' crisis.
  • The President made what he, almost certainly, see as a strong statement affirming climate science.

When climate scientists like me explain to people what we do for a living we are increasingly asked whether we “believe in climate change”. Quite simply it is not a matter of belief. Our concerns about climate change arise from the scientific evidence that humanity’s activities are leading to changes in our climate. The scientific evidence is overwhelming.

The President continued to respond to Landler with the following:
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.
Need to take a moment for an editorial comment.

First, the Obama Administration deserves serious credit for the fuel efficiency standard work.  This was a major achievement that will have significant impact.

Second, this is simply false:  "That will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere."  There is an important differentiation between the work "take" and "keep".  While the fuel standards mean that drivers will pollute less, they still will be burning fuel while driving -- they will be polluting, still, with each mile driven even if polluting less.  E.g., the fuel efficiency standards "will keep a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere" would have been a correct statement.  This seemingly pedantic point has meaning -- a 50 percent reduction in polluting, per mile driven, helps move us forward by reducing our polluting impact -- it does not, however, solve our problems and it does nothing to "take 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 short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, 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.

This is an important commentary -- that the President is going to spark a national "education process" to build support for the policies and actions determined as necessary to deal with climate change.  One might reasonably be scratching one's head right now: we just finished a multi-year election campaign which should have been about laying out the differences between the two parties and outlining policies that each is proposing.  And, in fact, the President's comments about the coming months and education are eerily echoing comments he has made in the past (here and here and ...). If the President and the Obama-Biden campaign had, as many had advocated, laid out climate change clearly over the past two years, that education process would be well underway and the President's resounding electoral victory would have been a clear mandate for taking these actions.
I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — 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 you know, 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, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.
Huh ... Why is the President going out of his way to assert "that's not just a partisan issue" when, at the core, climate change is one of the most partisan of all issues when it comes to the science (even as there a few 'coal' Democratic politicians who strive to ignore or reject the science).

And, why is the President using language that fosters the false economy versus environment framing so beloved by polluting industries?  It is well past time to connect, strongly, the Obama Administration's clean energy and green jobs efforts with their implications for climate science.

I won’t go for that.
Who - in terms of serious players in the US political discussion -- "would go for that" tackling climate change with zero regard for employment implications.  Bill McKibben and the crowd, far from anyone's concept of a pansy and weak-willed group when it comes to climate issues, certainly are aware of jobs issues and don't advocate action in ignorance of economic performance implications.
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.
And, that "agenda" has been laid out multiple times over.  See here ...
So you know, 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 — moves this agenda forward.

Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — 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’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.

The President is partially right. We are already facing these costs, seriously, and it will be far worse than "a cost down the road if we don't do something about" climate change.

One might question as to whether the President did, in fact, answer the question. Landler asked quite directly about the President's intent during the second term for climate-related legislation and other Federal action. And, Landler asked for the President's perspective on the political environment for action on climate change.  Both of these quite significant issues were left, at best, partially addressed.

For several months now, Forecast the Facts has led a campaign called "climate silence", which chastised President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney for their failure to address climate change seriously in the Presidential campaign (and elsewhere).  In essence, they have sought to have serious discussion of climate change from two angles:

  • Discussing climate change as a real and serious issue meriting action.
  • Laying out what they planned to do, in light of the above, to address climate change.

In considering that campaign, one might see Landler's question as providing a prompt for the President to 'end' that climate silence.  The President's response, however, responded to just the first element (acknowledging climate change as serious) and did not provide a solid response to the second in terms of specific actions.  One might suggest that something like this would deserve description as ending the climate silence:
This is what it would sound like if Obama broke his climate silence:
"Most of all, we cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake. Global warming is not a someday problem, it is now.
In a state like New Hampshire, the ski industry is facing shorter seasons and losing jobs. We are already breaking records with the intensity of our storms, the number of forest fires, the periods of drought. By 2050 famine could force more than 250 million from their homes — famine that will increase the chances of war and strife in many of the world’s weakest states. The polar ice caps are now melting faster than science had ever predicted. And if we do nothing, sea levels will rise high enough to swallow large portions of every coastal city and town.
This is not the future I want for my daughters. It’s not the future any of us want for our children. And if we act now and we act boldly, it doesn’t have to be.
But if we wait; if we let campaign promises and State of the Union pledges go unanswered for yet another year; if we let the same broken politics that’s held us back for decades win one more time, we will lose another chance to save our planet. And we might not get many more.
I reject that future. I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe that this time could be different.” “The first step in doing this is to phase out a carbon-based economy that’s causing our changing climate. As President, I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming — an 80% reduction by 2050. To ensure this isn’t just talk, I will also commit to interim targets toward this goal in 2020, 2030, and 2040. These reductions will start immediately, and we’ll continue to follow the recommendations of top scientists to ensure that our targets are strong enough to meet the challenge we face.”
That, for the record, was Senator Obama back in 2007.

Yet, the President's comments today certainly imply (if not directly state) an intent to end climate silence.

The President's commitment to speak on climate issues and spark a real national discussion to help foster support for necessary actions is welcome and something that could lead to substantive change in the months and years moving forward.

NOTE: As to the post's title, an interesting tidbit on the President's press conference:  the New York Times Washington Bureau evidently didn't consider their own reporter's question to be newsworthy as the Times' report on the press conference is silent on climate issues.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (203+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, limpidglass, jfromga, leeleedee, Steven D, Gooserock, Troubadour, rosette, humphrey, blueoasis, matching mole, beach babe in fl, consciousempress, maryabein, FoundingFatherDAR, FischFry, homo neurotic, RLMiller, asym, Mentatmark, majcmb1, John Crapper, cotterperson, Involuntary Exile, uciguy30, NMRed, dRefractor, eeff, Sassy, ask, Magnifico, jazzence, wayoutinthestix, Cronesense, houndcat, monkeybrainpolitics, MPociask, MarkInSanFran, hyperstation, deep, alisonk, WakeUpNeo, IndieGuy, Its any one guess, slowbutsure, citisven, elwior, martini, SolarMom, collardgreens, Rhysling, radical simplicity, Trendar, caspian, steamed rice, tofumagoo, hungeski, JekyllnHyde, FisherOfRolando, Knockbally, frisco, Just Bob, RJDixon74135, zerelda, owlbear1, marleycat, peachcreek, Loudoun County Dem, Wreck Smurfy, jayden, eru, la urracca, jamess, SquirmyRooter, muddy boots, shinobi9, Meteor Blades, bronte17, Joe Bob, davidincleveland, Neighbor2, GeorgeXVIII, hubcap, mommyof3, sharonsz, One Pissed Off Liberal, rogerdaddy, cacamp, mofembot, BlueDragon, commonmass, Sychotic1, Gustogirl, wonmug, Lujane, HeyMikey, HamptonRoadsProgressive, BYw, wasatch, nailbender, Railfan, retLT, bnasley, Nowhere Man, newpioneer, antirove, gharlane, petulans, Alice Venturi, DRo, threegoal, LaughingPlanet, Trotskyrepublican, George3, begone, abarefootboy, Frisbeetarian, BobBlueMass, NJpeach, greengemini, Calamity Jean, quill, Chaddiwicker, Aaa T Tudeattack, RageKage, lirtydies, nio, stevenaxelrod, Sandino, brentbent, Dbug, ChuckInReno, Sembtex, devis1, Guadalupe59, Assaf, chickeeee, Jeff Y, Lefty Coaster, FarWestGirl, Red Bean, lazybum, Larsstephens, nirbama, Alice Olson, roses, Miss Jones, caul, OLinda, MichaelNY, renzo capetti, soaglow, UniC, samanthab, blackluck, jhop7, Shelley99, Burned, DeminNewJ, IreGyre, Jim R, edsbrooklyn, EquationDoc, Geenius at Wrok, phoebesdatter, Ashaman, sodalis, filkertom, gulfgal98, evilstorm, ChemBob, pfiore8, quince, willyr, Ed in Montana, Laura Wnderer, dinazina, Dobber, expatjourno, Carol in San Antonio, aravir, SaintC, DWG, JBL55, dewtx, angelajean, Lady Libertine, FindingMyVoice, anodnhajo, Limelite, No one gets out alive, blue aardvark, TX Freethinker, Xapulin, Robynhood too, dwahzon, Mac in Maine, terabytes, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, RosyFinch, madhaus, Oh Mary Oh, divineorder

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 03:44:33 PM PST

  •  We'll see if this goes anywhere (44+ / 0-)

    There have been hints that the President has realized that trying to quietly seek consensus in Washington on anything is not working. Supposedly he's going to be using the bully pulpit more to force change on Washington from the outside.

    And frankly IMHO it's long overdue. Trouble is, I don't think he really is comfortable being confrontational, and his instincts are to seek some middle ground where everyone wins. But that's not possible in a situation where one side is so completely wrong on everything. There is an undeclared but very real war going on in this country, and only one side seems to be wholeheartedly engaged in waging it. The other side is fighting itself trying to pretend it's not really happening.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 03:54:10 PM PST

  •  Obama rightly believes (12+ / 0-)

    there are things undone on the economic front and an artificial in one sense, but otherwise real, deadline on the fiscal cliff will arrive.  I think he and most economists agree this is not the time to take amounts of money, though small, out of working class/middle class pockets with tax increases.  The issue may not be as killer as some predictions, but it very well could create another economic downturn and produce a lot of negative noise in the system.  But this is short term.

    Over his second term, I think he will want to address some 'legacy' issues and one of them might very well be climate change.   There are years of misinformation and misperceptions to wipe away and right now the weather, in a sense, is cooperating with the narrative we want to sell.  He needs to bring attention to this in positive ways to build the momentum in the public so there can be new and better policy.  This won't happen if the news concentrates on the easier reporting of falling stock markets, rising unemployment and more economic doom and gloom and the political hay that can be made of it.  

    •  I'm not sure I'd agree on the taxes (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, elwior, Lujane, caul

      Some economists will argue we shouldn't raise taxes on the majority, but I'm not sure that Obama or most economists would agree.  If we can lower debt, increase investment with great returns, then we can absorb the lower consumer spending, Indeed, if it means lots of new jobs, consumer spending would be likely to rise.

      What I would say is that Obama would agree that it's bad politics to raise taxes on the majority. On the economics of it, I  wouldn't presume to speak for him.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:16:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  true I can't speak for Obama (6+ / 0-)

        on anything.  His public position is the middle class keeps the tax cuts, he lowered the SS withholding as a form of economic stimulus.  What he believes going forward I don't know.

        Obviously with good job growth, consumer spending will rise.  But what short term prospects do we have to get beyond the barely enough rather than robust job growth we have now.  We either come up with further stimulus for infrastructure, or we wait a years for the job market to fully rebound.

        CBO produced a gloomy report:

        They could be wrong.  We need short term and long term plans to address the economy.

        I don't think addressing climate change should just wait around, but I think the success and attention it gets will depend on some economic issues being won, either politically, or because more robust growth and employment occurs.

    •  Considering we have around 18 years (11+ / 0-)

      before we hit 2.0 deg C warming (which is generally agreed to be the point when things start to fall apart), exactly how low on the priority list should action be?

      •  twice nothing is still nothing (1+ / 0-)

        I did not suggest it be low on the priority list, just that if Obama wants to build momentum for real changes,  then he can't be fighting 'the fiscal cliff' recession nonsense and expect progress on climate change.

        I didn't create massive stupidity in the American public, the corporate welfare state that perpetuates short term profit taking over the collective good, Republican intransigence, etc.   But ignoring those things stand between us and effective political policy making won't make the response to climate change better.

    •  Is it better to hit middle class pockets (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, mightymouse

      with more hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires?

    •  What "rising unemployment"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      Are you using different stats than everyone else?

      ...if the news concentrates on the easier reporting of falling stock markets, rising unemployment...
      There was a minor uptick last month (due, arguably, to more people looking for work because the economy is getting better,) but it's still below 8%.

      "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

      by caseynm on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:15:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Increases in employment need to be about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        130,000 per month to keep up with population growth.  So, any month employment does not increase by more than this, the number of unemployed people increases.

        In recent months, employment increases have been less than this.  

        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

        by nextstep on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:40:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  most economic prognosticators (0+ / 0-)

        indicate a potential recession and 2 million job losses if the federal government sequester occurs.  The lack of federal spending especially in across the board cuts will have a negative impact on growth.  And probably kill people cut off from medicaid, which is ultimately more important, but as far as media distractions,   that never gets reported, but economic bad news is played to the hilt.

        •  So you mean "projected rising unemployment if (0+ / 0-)

          the sequester happens," not "rising unemployment".

          "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

          by caseynm on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:04:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  semantics police are we now (0+ / 0-)

            I think in the context of my entire, not formal dissertation, but blog comment,  it was clear that my point was that if the tax cuts/sequester happens it will overwhelm the news, noise that would block any attempts to build a message about climate change.

    •  What are the words (16+ / 0-)

      that directly follow what you use for the link?

      However, that statement does not mean that we cannot say that climate change is making storms bigger. It is doing just that—a statement also based on good science, and one that the insurance industry is embracing, by the way.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:04:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Then, he's just wrong, in this case. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, Calamity Jean, caul, mightymouse

      Because the size was due in part to the shifted jet stream, you can say that climate change played a role. Many scientists have said that. So, he's wrong. I'd like to see him correct that, even if he's trying to steer away from the issue right now.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:18:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's actually NOT proven science. Some (4+ / 0-)

        scientists suggest that, others dispute it.  There is a possibility that high-pressure 'blocking in the north Atlantic may be in part attributable to melting sea ice--(although despite Sandy and this nor'easter, it's this same blocking that seems to have kept many other named storms out to sea that may otherwise have hit the coast).

        The size was enhanced by the blocking high, as well as the interaction with a major cold front.  There is some possibility that warm SSTs off the coast kept pressures down (although note that the hurricane rapidly strengthened between Jamaica and Cuba defying expectations).

        The one thing that I would say is the strongest argument is elevated sea levels, particularly in the 'bend' north of Long Island (1' over the last century at Battery Park).  

        But for you to say that Obama is 'wrong' on this is a weak and unsubstantiated comment.  Obama is not a scientist--and while scientists agriee that climate change is real, its influence on hurricanes is extremely complex and not well understood.  

        •  Can I be pedantic? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, caul, MichaelNY

          I would say that one can attribute the size of the storm (or the droughts) to climate change, in that a highly plausible causal connection can be inferred from a combination of mechanistic understanding and indirect evidence.   However, provin that attribution is difficult and not indisputable.

          A proof is something that makes you beleive something more.  Thus, depending on the weight applied one may or may not be able to prove this connection, I. The sense that the evidence will prove the attribution for some but not others.  

          This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

          by Mindful Nature on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:49:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the droughts are much more correlative than (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            elwior, Notreadytobenice, gramofsam1

            this storm, considering similar storms have occurred throughout the 20th century.  I  think it's likely that sea level rise exacerbated the damage (although I'd argue that a more substantial factor is coastal development, population shift, etc.--basically people badly miscalculating risk-benefit ratios).  

            But I'm glad Obama didn't play into the 'climate change caused Sandy' meme because it's incredibly simplistic.  He stressed that some significant weather events are likely to be exacerbated, which is, I think, a good way of framing things.

            •  The fact that the storm's landing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              coincided with one of the highest tides of the year was probably much more of a factor than rising sea levels. This unfortunate coincidence added several feet to the storm surge.

              Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

              by OIL GUY on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:26:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  It was the worst storm in the New York area (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, FischFry

              since the 1930s, and there's plenty of other evidence of local warming and more and more severe storms in the area, plus a general increase in the frequency and destructiveness of tropical storms, hurricanes, and droughts. Whether that proves we are in the early stages of the greenhouse effect is something scientists argue about, but I for one am completely convinced.

              Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

              by MichaelNY on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:34:38 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's actually incorrect--there really isn't an (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                increasing trend in the number or frequency of tropical systems.  Actually,  many AGW scenarios actually anticipate a decrease in number (although an increase in precipitation and possibly intensity).

                But the AGW-tropical systems link really is--at present--weak.  Doesn't mean that that won't change--but it's weak.  I was referred to the IPCC's documentation on this, so I actually read through it!

                You're right about the droughts, though--and probably other large-precipitation events (but keep in mind the destructiveness of this storm really wasn't in the rain or the winds--but the storm surge compounded by high tide AND a full moon).  Without those, this wouldn't have been that bad.

        •  Obama was speaking to both sets of voters (12+ / 0-)

          in this election.

          I typically enjoy A Siegel's diaries, but feel he parsed this one a little too closely and may have passed over the more general, inclusive acceptance of his stance to act upon man-made emissions and climate change impacts that Obama is trying to engender in even the skeptical voters.  

          He's a politician trying to bring out support in a manner which is his style, a patient manner which uses build-up.  It's not everyone's style or even preferred when some of us see these issues as long-overdue, but he has always been about gradualism - and, that includes softening the electorate enough to come to his side of things.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:50:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You really (10+ / 0-)

            won't like the LA Times take then:  Obama signals he's putting climate change on back burner

            The fact that climate change got some attention at Wednesday’s presidential press conference could be viewed as progress by environmentalists, after they watched the issue go virtually ignored during the just-concluded campaign.

            President Obama made many of the right sounds for activists on the issue. In response to a question from the New York Times’s Mark Landler, Obama said America must “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.”

            But the president also signaled that reducing carbon emissions comes nowhere near the top of his agenda, at least as he looks forward to the start of his second term.

            In terms of his gradualism, as I highlighted in this diary, he has said many of the same things about 'education' in the past. His past language was FAR more forceful than what we've heard in the past several years. He chose not to address climate change seriously during the Presidential campaign.  There are many reasons for serious caution when it comes to the President on climate change.

            Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

            by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:07:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  That articles doesn't seem to offer anything (7+ / 0-)

              which I haven't seen or understood thus far.

              A carbon tax would be impossible to pass with this Congress, for example.  He could push the Senate to lower taxes on the top 1% every month of the next two years and the House Republicans will never agree to caps.

              I felt he used the right language for the press audience, given that the other side of the electorate still has many voices calling for secession from the union due to his position of power in government.  As usual, he'll look for how to move on climate change through means that Congress can't touch as easily, I figure.

              Still, his pace of gradualism taxes even my incrementalist tendencies and patience oftentimes, so none of this is unfortunately a surprise.

              And, that's why I'm not upset about his response.  My expectations in this area have already been set rather low.

              "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

              by wader on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:27:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  President Obama has done far (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              nirbama, caul, MichaelNY

              more to address the issue of climate change than simplistic critics like yourself ever will. Doubling the fuel economy standards (which received virtually no coverage in either the MSM or the blogosphere) did more to reduce carbon emissions than any action taken by an American President.

              He has invested many billions into green energy, modified dozens of EPA regulations to maximize their environmental benefits and yet you complain that he hasn't done enough to satisfy you.

              I say: Too fucking bad!

              Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

              by OIL GUY on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:35:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Right, except saying it's "not a partisan issue" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            caul, maryabein

            is admitting that he himself, a Democrat, isn't going to be risking much more on air pollution issues (which is really what is causing climate change) than Republicans, because it is "politically difficult."

            Once in office, most ambitious politicians primary goal is not "making the world a better place," but getting re-elected.

            And just as he has spent the last four years more concerned about getting re-elected, than standing up to the Republicans, or for any specific issue/s, he's not expecting anyone in Congress to display any more courage than he has.  

            It is sad, and has terrible implications for everyone's future.

            •  No, it doesn't mean this (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              saying it's "not a partisan issue" is admitting that he himself, a Democrat, isn't going to be risking much more on air pollution issues
              It means he knows not much is likely to get through Congress, though he will try, and it also shows understanding for Democrats like Senator Manchin of WV and Senator Landrieu of LA, whose states depend on coal and oil, respectively.

              He will take more actions through regulations by Executive agencies.

              Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

              by MichaelNY on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:39:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  When he gets out front on this (0+ / 0-)

                and starts making serious speeches about the issue, or in any way pushes Americans or Congress on the eminent danger of climate change, wake me up.

                •  It doesn't matter what he says (0+ / 0-)

                  in the sense that the Republicans who control the House are climate change deniers and won't vote for anything worth a damn. So he has to act by Executive order and regulation.

                  Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                  by MichaelNY on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:19:49 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  But needs to talk about climate change (0+ / 0-)

                    to have support for those measures ... and to help elect a Congressin 2015 who will support action.

                    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                    by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:07:44 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What chances do you think Democrats have (0+ / 0-)

                      to regain the House in 2014? My feeling is, barring something egregious like the Republicans impeaching the president for jaywalking, less than 1%.

                      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                      by MichaelNY on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:58:30 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Even w/redistricting ... (0+ / 0-)

                        I believe the odds would be high if OFA's organizational and resource talents are put to work to support this.  A 435 district effort, with the President putting some real energy into it, and an unending discussion of the House being obstacle to policies to help Americans ...  Count me the eternal optimistic pessimist ... or pessimistic optimist.

                        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                        by A Siegel on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 04:35:16 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

      •  Show me one study that proves (0+ / 0-)

        your hypothesis. You are merely speculating and this type of speculation is highly corrosive to the arguments for climate change. It is very much like the Republicans scoffing at global warming because Washington DC got hit by a blizzard two years ago.

        The President was correct to avoid the issue of causality in terms of the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Storms similar to Sandy have landed in the Northeast before. I'm not trying to say that some of the effects are likely do to climate change, but it is certainly wrong to assert that as proven fact.

        Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

        by OIL GUY on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:22:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Name similar storms (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to hit the Northeast since 1938 or so.

          I agree that causality can't be proven, but the evidence is very suggestive.

          Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

          by MichaelNY on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:40:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Climate change makes Sandy more likely (3+ / 0-)

          Steroids made Barry Bonds Home runs more likely.

          to ask, "was this particular HR on 7/21/99 by Mr. Bonds caused by steroids?" is almost an unanswerable question - the kind of question posed by one who wants to confuse the real, statistical link between steroid use and home runs.

          Here are some ways climate change makes Sandy more likely (from Joe Romm):

          1.   Warming-driven sea level rise makes storm surges more destructive. In fact, a recent study found “The sea level on a stretch of the US Atlantic coast that features the cities of New York, Norfolk and Boston is rising up to four times faster than the global average.”

          2.    “Owing to higher SSTs [sea surface temperatures] from human activities, the increased water vapor in the atmosphere leads to 5 to 10% more rainfall and increases the risk of flooding,” as Kevin Trenberth explained to me in a 2011 email about Hurricane Irene. He elaborates on that point for Sandy here and for all superstorms in this article.

           3.   “However, because water vapor and higher ocean temperatures help fuel the storm, it is likely to be more intense and bigger as well,” Trenberth added (see another of his articles here). Relatedly, warming also extends the range of warm SSTs, which can help sustain the strength of a hurricane as it steers on a northerly track into cooler water (much as apparently happened for Irene). September had the second highest global ocean temperatures on record and the Eastern seaboard was 5°F warmer than average (with global warming  responsible for about 1°F of that).

          4.   The unusual path of the storm — into the heavily populated east coast rather than out to see — was caused by a very strong blocking high pressure system that recent studies have linked to warming.  Meteorologist and former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters has an excellent analysis of this, “Why did Hurricane Sandy take such an unusual track into New Jersey?“

          An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

          by mightymouse on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 05:41:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Unforced error (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That really is an unforced error. He didn't need to say such outdated bullshit.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:18:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "not just a partisan issue" -- you misunderstand (8+ / 0-)

    He didn't say it was not a partisan issue. He said it's "not just a partisan issue."

    Then, he went on to note that there are regional differences. In other words in states like Indiana and Ohio, where they are massively dependent on coal as a power source, or W.Va, where coal is a religion, it is hard to muster support for carbon taxes and other measures that just might make a difference.

    In other words, it is a partisan issue, but it is also a regional issue, which complicates things even for Democrats in some states.

    Not just a partisan issue.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:00:35 PM PST

    •  Actually ... (7+ / 0-)

      I did not misunderstand. I questioned why he gave this point such emphasis and in such a way.  

      If he had said something about how the Republican Party is so divorced from the science before making this comment, then having this as 'additional challenge' might have made more sense.

      If he had emphasized that the Democratic Party, writ large, understands that scientists have agreement that climate change is being driven by humanity and it merits attention but ... BUT ... there are differences about what that means in terms of policy choices/options/priorities even among and across Democratic Party members, thus this isn't simply a partisan issue ...

      E.g., I don't disagree that there are serious elements in the discussion that are far from simply partisan but I do find it disconcerting the emphasis on that element without having reference to the other arenas.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:08:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  clearly, the President needs to consult with (13+ / 0-)

    climate scientists.  He did mention short term solutions and I think that is where the focus needs to be right now.  At the same time we do need to tackle energy efficiency but that won't stop the worst effects of climate change.

    I cringed when I heard him say that fuel efficiency would reduce carbon in the atmosphere.   We all have to get this right..we won't have another chance.

    Thanks for the diary

    Macca's Meatless Monday

    by VL Baker on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:01:34 PM PST

  •  the times employs revkin (8+ / 0-)

    one of the masters of false equivalency, who offers his paper's credibility to deniers by acting as if they're part of a legitimate discussion, and who framed the concocted email "scandal" in the deniers' terms. inexcusable, for the "paper of record."

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:01:35 PM PST

  •  Fantastic. eom (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    **I've got Magic Ladyparts** And I keep a separate pair in my binder!

    by consciousempress on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:03:26 PM PST

  •  Obama skirted it, but this might not be good forum (7+ / 0-)

    This might be the kind of thing that would call for a major Presidential address. Perhaps even a prime-timer, a la Jimmy Carter's so-caled "malaise" speech. That would be a time for him to deliver hard truths, rather than as a throwaway answer in a press conference from which the headlines were sure to be other issues.

    I certainly don't have any inside info -- and I bemoan the fact that nothing will get done at Doha, even with the Kyoto commitment period expiring at the end of the year. That's the real cliff we face -- a climate cliff. However, if I were advising the President, I would say wait until the new year, preferably after there is some deal to to end Bush tax cuts and extend our debt ceiling and credit.

    Then, he can lay out the case for significant new investment, to mitigate and even reduce future climate gas emissions. Also, he could explain that we will need even more significant infrastructure investment to adapt to consequences of the climate change that is already in the climate system. Finally, he can make the case, that the time is now -- because the consequences of waiting would be too costly and too dire, and because it would be much less expensive to make those investments now, with borrowing rates so low.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:12:39 PM PST

    •  Tried to be (6+ / 0-)

      very balanced in the discussion.

      President Obama could be planning on / working out a series of discussions and Presidential speeches much along the lines of what you suggest. His commentary, today, certainly could point to such a path.  

      And, I agree that a press conference isn't the place try to lay out the serious case for a major program/policy on the first go.

      As stated in the diary, however, there are some specific wordings and implications of the wordings that discomfitted me and, in at least one case, were simply false.

      Re the partisanship issue, it wouldn't have taken many words to say "There are obviously huge partisan issues but there are many other divisions when it comes to how best to deal with climate change ..."

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:23:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my worry about Obama is what he addressed in (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        John Crapper, A Siegel, elwior

        the MTV interview...basically he said that we have to have a geo engineering solution.  I don't agreed with that it leaves too much to chance.  he's so brilliant and it's scary that he's saying this.  perhaps as he said he is needing to consult with the scientists maybe then he will see that there are other solutions.

        Macca's Meatless Monday

        by VL Baker on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 04:51:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It is TECHNICALLY feasible to remove carbon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    dioxide from the air; but not politically feasible.

    The TECHNICAL requirement of course would need something called "energy."   This is a simple statement of a law of thermodynamics.

    Plants were removing carbon dioxide from the air for many hundreds of millions of years.

    I expect that there are some here who like to mutter "all we have to do is mimic photosynthesis, without respect to the fact that hundreds of millions of years are not available.

    In any case the "by 2050" crap is just that "crap."   It was crap in 2007, just like Amory Lovins' "by 2000" crap was crap in 1976.

    The fact is that we have screwed beyond repair everyone, if anyone, who survives to 2050.

    The President can and will do nothing because nothing can be done.   So why get on him about it?  

    Don't worry.   Be happy.   This is, afterall, the year of the electric car.   We are very privileged to live in an era of more than 1 billion "safe" cars, when, at last 5 to 10 thousand millionaires and billionaires can buy a highly government subsidized electric car for $100K and walk around smugly and announce they're "doing something for the environment" and they're "green."

    Wasn't that "enough?"

    The question was, in fact, a dumb question because everyone not just the New York Times will ignore the answer.

    This year is definitely on track to be one of the 10 worst ever recorded for increases in dangerous fossil fuel waste concentrations in the atmosphere.

    I at least, will have a chance to wade through the broken trees to gaze expectantly on "Eco-New Jersey."

  •  Candidate Obama in 2007 (6+ / 0-)

    Hadn't had 4 years where every idea he endorsed was opposed by every Republican, and where for 2 years even the most basic legislation couldn't pass (farm bill anyone? Disaster relief?  etc)

    The man is who he is.  His statement reflects how little congress wants to deal at all with climate change.  Our lawmakers don't give a rats ass about it, no matter what happens with the weather, the arctic or anything else.

    So he's looking for an argument to make climate change legislation tie into improving the economy or "competitiveness", so it is politically possible to actually pass some legislation.  And he isn't there yet.

    Hence his statement.    

    It matters very little what Obama thinks of climate change.  He really can't do very much about it without help from Congress (and even with help, it'll probably be tiny and inadequate).  He's having trouble even having the conversation, because nobody with a megaphone (ie money or a congressional vote) wants to talk about it at all.

    Unless that changes, Obama is going to be reduced to efforts like the attempt in 2011 to get the Rs to bend on tax increases, even a tiny bit.  If he can just get the votes for even a token effort, it changes the mainstream conversation from "Climate change is a hoax" to "It's real, but it is hard to pass anything that will help".

    More likely though he'll have little success unless we get an 99%/1% type reframing that sound-bites the issue in a way that gets traction.   Which will most likely require some combination of more disasters and massive protests of some kind.

    •  Obama is a utilitarian (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SolarMom, wonmug, SpamNunn, mightymouse

      He is only going to expend effort on things if, in his head, he sees his effort able to push the needle on an issue across the finish line (of course he'll take any gifts that come his way as well).  

      Closing Guantanamo?  Met too much resistance, didn't want to get bogged down in it, let it go.
      Single payer health care?  Insurance companies would spend too much money opposing, no way.  Public option?  Sacrifice it if you can get a deal through.  
      Climate change?  He'll give a speech, but big oil and coal still has a lot of clout - he's not going to do anything radical, and he's going to keep talking about clean coal and increasing drilling on public land for oil.  
      Gay marriage?  Wait till the polls move more in his favor, or till Joe Biden forces his hand.

      Obama isn't a LBJ who can force deals through Congress, and isn't an FDR that can take his case directly to the people to go over Congress's head.  He's very much a Clintonian triangulator, and the last election campaign finally saw the inevitable warming in the relationship between those two Third Way/Blue Dogs/moderate conservatives.  

      This is all speculation, but I think in his heart, Obama once wished he could be a Reagan - a great communicator that can change the national conversation from right wing frames to left wing frames.  A transformational leader, as it were.  Sometime around his election to the White House, though, that dream died.  Now he's happy/resigned to be a technocrat, winning small victories (but sadly losing the war as the right wing frame marches ever rightward - see the great celebration over adopting a Heritage Plan health insurance scheme).  

    •  Sigh ... (5+ / 0-)

      Not willing to go through the record, but Obama sat back in 2009 and let the opportunity for climate legislation slip through the cracks of history.

      The climate knowledgeable members of the Administration (such as Hodren, Lubchenco, Chu ...) look to be operating under orders not to speak forcefully in public.

      Etc ...

      There are tremendous "R" opposition issues -- the R climate deniers are the true enemies of humanity -- but this does not hold President Obama blameless.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:53:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  House passed cap and trade (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, MichaelNY, notagain

        died in senate, for the usual reasons of the 2009-2010.  

        (health care took a year and a half, instead of 3 months, financial regulation ate up too months and after that we were in election 2010 season.   Endless procedural delays pretty much kept the Senate from doing more than one thing at a time)

        He's not blameless, but he gave it a shot, just like Immigration reform, which also died in senate.

        The voters took away any second chance in 2010.   If either pass, it'll be because of movement-based politics, because the Rs are in complete denial and the dems see zero political benefit to climate change legislation that isn't somehow tied to a jobs program.

        •  "He gave it a shot ..." (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          misstates what happened in 09/10 re climate issues.

          And, staying essentially silent for so long is far from leadership.

          RE Obama's silence

          As to political gain, it is there for the seizing.  For example ...

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:36:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And during that time, (4+ / 0-)

          during all that time, I never once heard the President tell the simple truth: That the Senate REPUBLICANS were blocking all that good legislation that was coming out of the house.

          Those "endless procedural delays" you refer to were nothing but REPUBLICAN filibusters and holds.  

          That's the word that Obama refuses to utter: REPUBLICANS.  He likes to blame "Congress" but does not speak the R-word.  

          He seems pathologically afraid of calling them out on their obstructionism.

          Even in today's presser, when Nancy Cordes brought up the familiar bullshit line of the Republicans that mean ol' Barry wasn't being Bipartisan enough:

          But when it comes to your relationships with Congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven’t done enough to reach out and build relationships. Are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with Congress in the second term?
          the POTUS replied:
          Look, I think there’s no doubt that I can always do better. And so I will, you know, examine ways that I can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as its advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class and improving our economy.
          [...] And I don’t exempt myself from needing to, you know, do some self-reflection and see if I can improve our working relationship.
          Really, Mr. President?

          You think you might maybe have mentioned REPUBLICAN Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's remark to Heritage that "our top political priority ... should be to deny President Obama a second term"?

          You think you might maybe have mentioned the meeting at the Caucus Room restaurant on fucking INAUGURATION DAY, reported on by Robert Draper, in which high-level Republican office-holders and operatives including Corker, DeMint, Ensign, Kyl, Sessions, Ryan, McCarthy, Lungren, Hoekstra, Cantor, Hensarling, Gingrich and Luntz, basically agreed on a strategy to sabotage Obama's entire first term; if possible to mortally wound him?

          And then you think you might maybe have thrown that asinine question back in Nancy's face and ask: So, Nancy, how exactly do you "reach out and build relationships" with people who have sworn a blood oath to destroy you?  Why don't you ask them, Nancy, what they have done to reach out and build relationships across the aisle?

          This President just won't go there.  He won't tell the truth.  During the hostage situation of summer 2011, first over the debt ceiling, and then over FAA funding, when the Republicans held the country's finances and the FAA hostage, the President repeatedly blamed "Congress" for not dealing with the problem.  As if it were a bipartisan issue.  Giving credence to the insane meme that there are "extremists on both sides" who are just "too partisan" and therefore can't "work together" to "get things done."

          If he refuses to call bullshit on "questions" like Cordes's, then he'll continue to get bullshit.  And until he confronts Republican obstructionism, he'll continue to get Republican obstructionism.  If it were just a cute little board game played by people in Washington, that would be one thing, but this refusal to face and name facts affects every single person in this country (and well beyond our borders as well).

          Sorry.  Unless he (and you) are willing to tell the truth about the reason for the block, for those "endless procedural delays", then I'm not willing to credit him with "giving it a shot."  

        •  the WH may have sunk the bill (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TJ, A Siegel

          See As the World Burns: How the Senate and the White House missed their best chance to deal with climate change from the New Yorker.

          The basic story is that Senate negotiators were holding out some plums in return for GOP votes for cap and trade. The plums were expanded off-shore drilling and one other thing I can't remember right now.

          Obama went around the Senate negotiators and gave the plums away for free, thus sinking the cap & trade bill.

          It is convenient to always blame Republicans, of course.

          An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

          by mightymouse on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 05:50:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, elwior

      He can do a lot, namely by keeping coal and tar sands in the ground.  Block the Powder basin coal port and the keystone XL pipeline to start.

      The big action requires congress, which in turn requires us.   It is time to tell at representatives at town halls.  

      This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:59:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I applaud Mark (6+ / 0-)

    Landler's question and am interested to see what Obama does in the months ahead. Something has to be done.

    If anyone gets the chance, one of the most (if not THE most) important documentaries has just been released. It's called "Chasing Ice" and is just jaw dropping. The video and photographs of the disappearing ice and the information given in the doc are astounding. We need to support this film.

    It's produced by the same team that gave us the award-winning doc "The Cove" and just as hard hitting and informative.

  •  This is brilliant (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, elwior, Nowhere Man, MichaelNY

    Another issue to pressure the president on. (I am writing a letter just after this post, and to John Boehner.  How about you?)

    I was unaware of that 2007 statement and it gives me more hope this isn't  window dressing.   For those who get it, this isn't a panderable issue.

    One quibble.  Notions backed up by scientific evidence are still beliefs.   They are simply beliefs held for good reason, unlike faith, which as Feuerbach (I think) pointed must not have evidence if it is to be faith.  

    So I believe climate change is real because there is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting that belief.  

    Potato potahto.  

    Just my two cents.  

    Oh and I am extremely grateful for all your work

    Any proof reading of this post is dedicated to MO

    This has been a golden age for confirmation bias. - David Brooks

    by Mindful Nature on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:44:30 PM PST

  •  Thanks for sifting through this answer (9+ / 0-)

    a lot of things to dissect, but at least we're starting to get more material to be dissected.

    •  Yes, absolutely thanks for posting this (6+ / 0-)

      So much to hope for, and so much to take issue with.

      My personal face palm is the constant juxtaposition of economy vs. environment.  It doesn't work like that!

      Money spent on energy efficiency is economic stimulus and more blue collar jobs.

      Money spent now updating the grid and instituting feed-in tariffs would lead to cleaner and less centralized, more distributed power generation, which will keep lights on during storms.

      By decreasing coal and gas generation, that same money will reduce our carbon footprint and saving countless millions of dollars in the future, not to mention lives.

      Clean energy = a better economy.  We need to get that through their thick skulls in Washington.  The proof is all around us -- the wind revolution (now threatened by Congress not extending the production tax credit), auto battery makers in Michigan, and on and on, as documented over and over (by CERES, Pew, PERI, Green For All..)

      Clean Energy = Jobs and a Future for our Kids.

      “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

      by SolarMom on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:08:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For an "Idiot America" population (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll take the sitting and re-elected President saying "I believe in climate change" as a step forward.

    Even if it's 'not a matter of belief' as the scientist says.

    If Obama has to 'evolve' on climate change, from ignoring it, to 'believing' in it to someday saying "Climate change is real, is happening now, and if we don't start fixing it, there won't be an America left for our grandkids" (or something similar) then I think that's fine too.

    I'm not saying pointing out flaws in what he said is bad, but I think proper perspective, given our current (abysmal as it ma be) political climate is in order, is all.

    T/R regardless.

  •  Fuel economy standards: less than meets the eye. (3+ / 0-)
    In economics, the Jevons paradox (sometimes Jevons effect) is the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.[1] In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that technological improvements that increased the efficiency of coal use led to increased consumption of coal in a wide range of industries. He argued that, contrary to intuition, technological improvements could not be relied upon to reduce fuel consumption.

    What this means for motor fuel is this:

    (1) If the price of motor fuel goes up (like with a greenhouse tax), people burn less motor fuel.

    (2) OTOH if cars get more efficient but motor fuel stays cheap, the following happen:

    * People decide to buy that house on the big lot (sprawl-inducing) in the suburbs, instead of that condo in town close to work.

    * People continue to drive for shopping and eating out, so they vote against raising local taxes for sidewalks and bike lanes and commuter rail.

    * People don't give a damn about changing zoning laws to require mixed-use, walkable development.

    * People buy a bigger, more powerful vehicle than they otherwise would've.

    In other words, if cars get more efficient but gas stays cheap, people drive more, bigger, faster.

    Higher CAFE standards are an attempt at a free lunch. And the most basic rule in economics is still: ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:08:14 PM PST

    •  I rent a car once a month for a week. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The newer cars seem get 35 mpg. The same size car is supposed to get 50 mpg in a dozen years.

      It makes sense that more miles will be driven as efficiency goes up but if you double mpg no way will miles driven double.

      We did shit about mpg for TWENTY years but now there supposed to double by 2025. Maybe 100 mpg in a generation.
      Here's the wiki  on CAFE standards:

      Standards by model year, 1978-2011
      CAFE standards for each model year in miles per gallon.
      Passenger Cars    Light Trucks
      1978    18.0           
      1979    19.0    17.2    15.8    17.2
      1980    20.0    16.0    14.0   
      1981    22.0    16.7    15.0   
      1982    24.0    18.0    16.0    17.5
      1983    26.0    19.5    17.5    19.0
      1984    27.0    20.3    18.5    20.0
      1985    27.5    19.7    18.9    19.5
      1986    26.0    20.5    19.5    20.0
      1987    26.0    21.0    19.5    20.5
      1988    26.0    21.0    19.5    20.5
      1989    26.5    21.5    19.0    20.5
      1990    27.5    20.5    19.0    20.0
      1991    27.5    20.7    19.1    20.2
      1992    27.5            20.2
      1993    27.5            20.4
      1994    27.5            20.5
      1995    27.5            20.6
      1996    27.5            20.7
      1997    27.5            20.7
      1998    27.5            20.7
      1999    27.5            20.7
      2000    27.5            20.7
      2001    27.5            20.7
      2002    27.5            20.7
      2003    27.5            20.7
      2004    27.5            20.7
      2005    27.5            21.0
      2006    27.5            21.6
      2007    27.5            22.2
      2008    27.5            22.5
      2009    27.5            23.1
      2010    27.5            23.5
      2011    30.2            24.1

      •  Point is really (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HeyMikey, Notreadytobenice

        the systems impacts -- if cars are quieter, more comfortable, drive faster, have greater fuel efficiency, and there are good roads allowing them to go farther, it contributes to sprawl with large homes far from the nearest stores/work/schools which means that the individual car might be far more efficient per mile but the improved 'system' efficiency for an individual helps contribute to a societal land-use pattern that is far less efficient.  A real 'conundrum' to be understood but not exaggerated.

        Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

        by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:06:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Conundrum is serious ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, HeyMikey

      and thus why, for example, 'CAFE' standards cannot / should not stand alone ...

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:04:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am not sure how you can get any more clear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on the issues as Obama said

    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.

    •  The trick is getting a very large majority willin (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, A Siegel

      to do what needs to be done. One person may have a voice but if the number agreeing and listening and acting is too small then in the end the ones who refuse will pull us all down.

      Can the government simply make certain behaviors and policies mandatory?.. AH, YEP but then drugs have been illegal for a long time and have pretty hefty punishments and we still have a flourishing drug underculture. I admire, on the other hand, the movements to cut smoking and drunk driving... they appear to be far more effective then the war on drugs. Though there are still holdouts.

      What framing would be more effective to get people to back it enough to disempower those on the right who oppose any effort to control thier naughty greedy ways  and ameliorate the damage that has already accumulated? Willing cooperation is what we need and yet the rhetoric between the right and left has heated up with many looking outside themselves for rescue. We need a ground swell movement NOT a once a year show for the earth. We need people to come together to be an army to back politicians who will do something as soon as they know they will not be tossed out of power and kept down for long generations. What can we do that does not rely on petitioning those who hold office to rescue us? The threat we live under is not just about business and government, it is about how we choose to live our lives and what we can not live without.

      To actually fight global warming is going to require a sustainability movement and a radical change in our economies...  We are constantly trying to sustain what we have by growing our economy which requires an ever growing level of resources and energy. Yet somehow we expect that we can do this without substantially changing how we live....We can't! And we need to get a grip on population growth from all aspects including improving the lives of the disposable peoples of the world.

      I think there are ways to overcome many problems but I think we are going to have to rachet back on what THINGS we feel we have to have. Personally I would not want PBO s job but he is admirably struggling against incredible oppostion as well as freaking out people, who I believe in some secret part of thier mind,s know what has to be done.. And then you have those who feel we should let it all fall away and die back as one doc I watched said ... to about 2000 humans after a long  long long drought. Which makes me wonder if we have done this repeatedly before. Maybe humans are incapable of using intelligence for anything but self-gratification. I hope we can make it this time around but we have to have a strong majority to be effective at deliberately terra forming our own planet from a run away downward spiral to our demise.

      How can you tell when Rmoney is lying? His lips are moving. Fear is the Mind Killer

      by boophus on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:16:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the argument (0+ / 0-)

        has to be made not enivormental but economically

        For example encourage rail that runs on electricicity (or even better mag lev), encouraging a transition to hybrids or all electric by higher fuel standards. Things like that which make sense and save people money

        The fact is that too many americans live pay check to pay check and big money and the gop use that against them. To me the solution is a bunch of small victories proving that government does work for them not against them

        Also make no mistake, humanity will survive there's little we can do short of total nuclear war to make this planet uninhabitable the question is how many and what kind of life will they have.

        •  Nothing will change (0+ / 0-)

          Ultimately humans are biological creatures subject to the laws of nature and physics. Compress geologic history to a calendar year and industrial civilization exists for the last seven seconds. In that time we have managed to trigger species extinction rates that rival past occurrences caused by catastrophic natural events.

          Humans beings could check themselves, but because we as a whole completely lack any environmental ethic, that's not going to happen. Ergo nature will do it eventually - and nature has no mercy.

        •  Argument shouldn't be 'either / or' (0+ / 0-)

          The environmental risks / challenges should be discussed as supportive of moves that will pay off even if the environmental weren't part of the equation. But, how can you talk about solutions if you don't talk about the problem to be solved?

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:08:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  And that's more the pity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, mightymouse
    The President made what he, almost certainly, see as a strong statement affirming climate science.
    Don't hold your breath. He said the same thing four years ago.  He hasn't committed to anything significant, apart from stalling the XL pipeline.   We'll see how long that lasts.   Maybe until the mid term elections.  
    The President's commitment to speak on climate issues and spark a real national discussion to help foster support for necessary actions is welcome and something that could lead to substantive change in the months and years moving forward.

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

    by SpamNunn on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:51:01 PM PST

  •  I was just saying to Sven (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, A Siegel

    that  to hearing fromi looked forward you on this topic.

    Now to drink it all in.

    And remember: if we fail on climate change, nothing else matters. - WarrenS

    by LaughingPlanet on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:17:07 PM PST

  •  Thanks for an excellent Commentary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, A Siegel

    Indeed, all politicians need to be held accountable.

    Perhaps Obama most of all. No other President in living memory has depended so strongly on grassroots progressive support, for three grueling campaigns (the 2008 primary and the two Presidential elections).

    He owes us more than one. And he sure owes his daughters.

  •  the elephant in the room is the fossil fueligarchy (5+ / 0-)

    this president tends to be conciliatory and hesitant to antagonize wealthy and powerful forces--and the multi-billion dollar fossil fuel industry is one of the most powerful.

    We are talking about an administration that quietly started approving oil drilling in the Arctic a couple years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They just hope the political outcry will go away, and then proceed apace in appeasing the fossil fuel companies.

    There was not a word said during the campaign about the fact that 2/3 of the US was in a drought state this year. Total silence. It's up to the newly reelected president to break that silence.

    The president is more than a mediator. When he speaks, people listen, and he can move the public debate by what he says to the media. Obama has chosen not to do that on the issue of climate change.

    We were told that now that Obama will never run for office again, that he would feel free to be bolder and more imaginative.

    But judging by yesterday's press conference, he won't . At least not when it comes to climate change, where he will pursue the same meandering, middle-of-the-road course of compromise and conciliation that he's done for the last four years (and the entirety of his political career). Clearly for him it is just another issue on the docket (and judging by his tone, not nearly as important to him as defending Susan Rice from Republican attacks), and as long as Congress can reach an agreement--any kind of agreement, he's satisfied.

    That's a dereliction of his responsibilities as president--it is the most important issue on the docket, and he should say so. He needs to shape the agenda, and he is stepping aside, which means the fossil fuel-igarchy will shape the agenda by default.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:20:02 AM PST

  •  One thing he left out is what we need to do now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, A Siegel, MichaelNY

    to adapt to the changes already occurring due to climate change.  There are infrastructure measures that need to be taken to mitigate the kinds of damage we've seen with, for example, storms like Sandy and Katrina/Rita, with the tornadoes and high winds that have been tearing through the midwest of late, and with the now nearly-ubiquitous flooding in these areas after any heavy rainfall.   Plus we need to address real problems in our food supply and food prices as the result of droughts and storm damage to crops and livestock.    

    Those are some immediate steps that could create jobs and ease the burdens on working families struggling to stretch a dollar to make ends meet.

    "There's something fundamentally wrong with a a system where a handful of people have more than they'd ever need and the mass of the people have less than they always need." -- Rev. Joseph Lowery

    by caul on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:23:47 AM PST

  •  He doesn't have good talking points on climate. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, mightymouse, MichaelNY

    And, apparently, he doesn't have a second term plan yet. I was bothered by this press conference, especially considering how confident and aggressive he was on every other topic he addressed. I hope the White House follows up with something soon.

    •  Your point shared by others (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TJ, MichaelNY

      WashPost today:

      Part of the reason America still lacks a comprehensive, long-term global warming strategy is that Obama put climate policy lower on his first-term priority list than health care and financial reform. Will the issue get the attention it requires in his second term? In the end, the president on Wednesday was not very encouraging. He had many more details and a far more urgent tone answering questions on budget and immigration reforms. About long-term climate policy, the best he could manage was this: “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.” That hardly signals an ambition in proportion to the size of the problem.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:58:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Two small points: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    1. This seems nit picking:

    First, the Obama Administration deserves serious credit for the fuel efficiency standard work.  This was a major achievement that will have significant impact.

    Second, this is simply false:  "That will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere."  There is an important differentiation between the work "take" and "keep".

    The point is accurate as a matter of technical grammar.  But the ungrammatical convoluted misuse of "take" for "keep" does not make the statement false. Surprisingly, the standards of inductive logic give precedence to the sense of such statements over literal readings.

    Of course, cars do not "take" carbon out of the air physically. This change to regulatory law "takes" its carbon away from an unregulated alternative model, statistically.

    2. Writing after being flooded by Sandy and still throwing out stuff from our garage, this response from President Obama is good enough for me.

    Seriously. This is a press conference, not a written scientific article in "Nature."

    Black Eisenhower is doing an amazing job. And like White Ike, he's very good a press conferences. Doing a couple hundred of them is a solid way to communicate with America. Worked beautifully in the 1950s.

    •  Couple items ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1.  This is not the first time President Obama has used these words ("take"). I did intro those paragraphs with "Need to take a moment for an editorial comment." And, as per what you clipped, I started with praising the achievement.  The incorrect 'take' vs 'keep' does matter in terms of habitual language and the message(s) it sends.  

      2.  What I did not do, which makes sense to have done, is compared the specificity and power of the President's responses on other issues to the climate change discussion. Quoted, in comment just above yours, from WashPost today:

      Part of the reason America still lacks a comprehensive, long-term global warming strategy is that Obama put climate policy lower on his first-term priority list than health care and financial reform. Will the issue get the attention it requires in his second term? In the end, the president on Wednesday was not very encouraging. He had many more details and a far more urgent tone answering questions on budget and immigration reforms. About long-term climate policy, the best he could manage was this: “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.” That hardly signals an ambition in proportion to the size of the problem.
      3.  Thoughts with you on 'cleaning out' ...

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 05:46:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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