Image via Climate Progress
There are some that herald Barack Obama as the greenest president in a long time. And it's true -- his administration has done more than any other in recent memory to reign in pollution and promote clean energy. Aggressive CAFE standards, a mobilized EPA, and clean energy stimulus in the Recovery Act were all jumps in the right direction. So he walks the walk -- why isn't he talking the talk? At least, not recently. His State of the Union address was nearly bankrupt of environmental references of any kind -- and climate change was nowhere to be found. Even Bush talked climate more than Obama did, as this graph demonstrates. This graph was put together by the climate researcher Matthew Hope, who found that Obama has mentioned climate less than either of his two predecessors in major addresses. The Guardian did a piece on Hope's findings, and reports that in Obama's "three such addresses since becoming president, he has on average made fewer mentions of climate change or the environment than Bill Clinton or even George Bush. 'Clearly they have decided climate change is a no-go area,' Hope said."
This chart shows the progression -- er, regression:
Clearly, this is a political decision. Obama and his team of advisers have seen the polls revealing that climate seems to be a contentious issue among Americans (despite the fact that the clear majority believe global warming is real), and have made the strategic decision to publicly relegate the issue to the shadows. This is, to most climate watcher's eyes, a huge mistake. If he manages to pass a renewable energy standard through a highly partisan Congress, perhaps his strategy will be vindicated; even then, it seems, in some regards, cowardly. For now, it just seems like he's missing a massive opportunity to engage the public on one of the most important issues of our day -- and to lead us to action necessary to address it.
More on Barack Obama and Climate
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Obama Should Talk Climate Change in His State of the Union Address