play golf in sun with Tiger Woods? That's right, the President got plenty of media coverage yesterday on his short vacation. But, some staunch supporters of the President are left scratching their heads and asking "What's wrong with this picture?"
On a day that tens of thousands of Americans travelled to Washington and rallied in cities all over the United States to support the President in his call to action on climate change, it seemed like an opportunity for leadership and commitment was missed.
The rally also called for the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline project which would allow the release of dirty tar sands oil. The project is so hotly contested that the President's own Environmental Protection Agency head , Lisa Jackson, resigned last month. She stepped down in protest to Obama's apparent plans to approve the project "because she doesn't want to be at the helm of the agency when the White House rubber-stamps the controversial project."
Americans were encouraged by President Obama's vows to the nation during his inaugural address:
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.and again, in his State of Union address this week, just over a month into his second term:
If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.
Indeed, President Obama's actions to arrest global warming may well define his legacy in history.
Other world leaders have and continue to step up to the plate, regardless of politics, given the threat climate change poses to global financial, water and food security. In a speech to the G20 in Moscow on Saturday, President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, "warned the finance chiefs of the world's leading economic powers that global warming is a real risk to the planet and already affecting the world economy in unprecedented ways." Kim asked the G20 to "face climate change, which is a very real and present danger."
HRH Prince Charles has been outspoken for years on the issue. At the UN Conference of Sustainable Development last June in Rio de Janeiro, he warned of the "catastrophic" consequences of inaction on global warming.
Three months ago, the Prince of Wales went further, warning that mankind is on the brink of "committing suicide on a grand scale" unless urgent progress is made in:
1) CO2 emissions;
2) large scale agricultural production; and,
3) resource depletion (water and soil).
The Prince of Wales has also suggested that Americans need to cut down on beef. We consume twice as much as British on average. But, His Royal Highness was not raising the issue because of diet, but rather as a warning related to global warming, that water needs to be conserved:
"For every pound of beef produced in the industrial system, it takes two thousand gallons of water." "That is a lot of water and there is plenty of evidence that the Earth cannot keep up with the demand."
His comments were made at a sustainability conference in Georgetown in recognition of the impact of the industrial livestock production system on water, soil, biodiversity and greenhouse gas emissions.
Last week, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced legislation in the form of two bills, the Sustainable Energy Act and the Climate Protection Act. These pieces of legislation will demonstrate to other nations of the world that the US recognizes that current efforts have not been adequate, we continue to move dangerously toward the tipping point* and, as such, are taking action to arrest the problem.
Today, we celebrate our Presidents, past and our current President, Barak Obama.
We re-elected him because we know that when he is deeply committed to something, he will prioritize it and make it happen. Also, we trust his character and judgment in the knowledge that some things are too important to leave to chance. The recent film about Lincoln calls us to remember that what set him apart as a great leader from others was his capacity to surround himself with team of leaders of differing opinions, even rivals, and at a certain point, act decisively when providence/history/God/Mother Earth/the Laws of Nature/conscience demand a specific outcome, effectively ending any further debate from the team.
I trust that this President, our President, has heard the call and was simply preparing to champion the cause.