Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

US climate fears mount, but political action wanes
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jan 19, 2013

Climate change was thrust to the forefront of the US political agenda recently in the wake of the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy and record high temperatures across the country.

But despite President Barack Obama renewing his early promises to act, experts said political opposition would make it at least as difficult as during Obama's first, failed push to get new legislation through Congress, and said decisive measures will remain unlikely.

"All the public opinion polls show a better understanding of the link between climate change and extreme weather events," said Alden Meyer, strategy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

But, he added, "there is still a lot to do in the Republican Party and in the business community," to get them on board with Obama's plans for solutions, should the president launch a second offensive.

Growing public concern over the global warming threat was laid out in a recent study by the Rasmussen Institute, carried out shortly before November's presidential election, but after Sandy slammed into the US Northeast.

The study showed that 68 percent of US voters believed that climate change was a serious problem, compared to just 46 percent in 2009.

Since being re-elected, Obama has addressed climate change several times, including pledging the week after the vote to launch a nationwide conversation to find common ground, because "we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it."

The president acknowledged that his stance on climate change would require "tough political choices," and conceded that lawmakers -- Democrat and Republican alike -- may not be on board.

The makeup of Congress remains largely the same as before the November vote. Republicans have retained the majority in the House of Representatives, and a significant bloc come from the ultra-conservative "Tea Party." In the Senate, Democrats strengthened their majority.

Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions think tank noted that growing public awareness of climate change "has yet to translate into a surge in political willingness."

The issue was not a "game changer" during the election, he added in an interview.

"We still do not see any prospect for major legislation in Congress."

In 2010, amid an economic crisis, the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the creation of a national market of greenhouse gas emissions -- a so-called cap-and-trade system -- that would have penalized coal and oil users in favor of those using renewable energy.

According to Diringer, "the best prospect for progress in the near term will be through executive action" by the president.

His most effective weapon lies in the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, which he could use to regulate greenhouse gas emissions -- in particular carbon dioxide from coal power plants.

These power plants are responsible for a third of emissions in the US, the world's second biggest polluter after China, and the top polluter per capita.

The EPA has already proposed stricter limits for new power plants -- which still need to be finalized -- but has not acted on existing plants.

"This is the most significant step that the president can take to reduce emissions," Diringer emphasized, saying he was hoping to get "clear signals from the administration about its timetable" soon after Obama is sworn in Monday.

"He has both the authority and the legal obligation," Diringer said, warning that "if EPA does not move forward, it's very likely that green groups will sue them in court to force the regulation."

Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists also noted that it might be less impossible for Obama to pass a carbon tax after 2014, with a new Congress and in the two final years of his mandate.

The tax, which could be framed as a way to cut the deficit -- a priority for both parties -- is popular among economists and a number of Republicans, including a former adviser to Obama's former Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

And in a different vein, Dave Hamilton of the Sierra Club, the largest environmental group in the US, said Obama could make progress pushing for greater energy efficiency, "which could really change the dynamic."

"The president has done a good job of getting resources to clean energy and we want to see that to continue," Hamilton said.

But "energy efficiency remains a huge potential energy resources that we have never captured at the kind of scale that is available," he added.


Related Links
Climate Science News - Modeling, Mitigation Adaptation

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

In the Eastern US, spring flowers keep pace with warming climate
Madison WI (SPX) Jan 18, 2013
Using the meticulous phenological records of two iconic American naturalists, Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold, scientists have demonstrated that native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate. The new study is important because it gives scientists a peek inside the black box of ecological change in response to a war ... read more

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Russia to Launch Lunar Mission in 2015

US, Europe team up for moon fly-by

Mission would drag asteroid to the moon

US scientists find evidence of ancient Martian lake

Martian Crater May Once Have Held Groundwater-Fed Lake

Choosing the right people to go to Mars

ChemCam follows the 'Yellowknife Road' to Martian wet area

An Astronaut's Guide

Mathematical breakthrough sets out rules for more effective teleportation

Orion Teamwork Pays Off

Unilever Buys 22 Flights On XCOR Lynx Suborbiter For AXE Campaign

China to launch 20 spacecrafts in 2013

Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

ISS to get inflatable module

ESA workhorse to power NASA's Orion spacecraft

Competition Hopes To Fine Tune ISS Solar Array Shadowing

Embassy Gathers Elite Group of Space Policy Chiefs

Suborbital Space Research and Education Conference Scheduled for June 2013

First Ariane 5 Launch For 2013 Ready With Two Birds

Africasat-1a to launch on first Ariane 5 launch in 2013

Roscosmos Releases Report On Proton Launch Anomaly

Earth-size planets common in galaxy

NASA's Hubble Reveals Rogue Planetary Orbit For Fomalhaut B

NASA, ESA Telescopes Find Evidence for Asteroid Belt Around Vega

Kepler Gets a Little Help From Its Friends

Record high radiation level found in fish: TEPCO

NASA Beams Mona Lisa to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the Moon

New surfaces repel most known liquids

Sustainable reinforcement for concrete has newly discovered benefits

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement