The most pressing world issue we face today according both to common sense and our own president is climate change. It’s been more than a decade since Al Gore’s controversial documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" brought global warming to the forefront of scientific, political and social commentary. The jury is in; global warming, climate change, call it what you will, is fact. To argue otherwise anymore is an exercise in rhetoric, not rationality or reality.
Even though the scientific debate is settled, the battle still rages over policy implementation and the real-life logistics of combating climate change, with the imminent focus being placed on the Keystone XL pipeline. The Senate recently brought the issue to a vote that resulted in a precarious 59-41 split in favor of the pipeline — one vote away from passage. Although the ozone layer just dodged a 1,200-mile bullet it’s not time for celebration, as House Speaker John Boehner insists that Keystone will come up again “very early” next year.
With Republicans newly in control of the Senate and further entrenched in the House of Representatives, it seems near-inevitable that the Keystone bill will pass sometime next year. When the time comes, and the bill is resting on the Resolute desk, will President Barack Obama rise up to the occasion? Does he have the courage to shun controversy and issue the provocative veto?
Maybe so. In the meantime, the president is saving the environment in other significant ways. Just this month, Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and came away with an agreement for China and the U.S. to start cutting down on greenhouse emissions — exceptional news, considering the two countries are the largest producers of greenhouse gases in the world. Better yet, Obama will be dragging Congress along kicking and screaming since he maneuvered his way out of establishing a formal agreement, rendering the Senate’s approval of a foreign treaty unnecessary. This agreement is also valuable as a blueprint for other nations like India, who have yet to phase out coal and fossil fuels for renewable energy as China will under the new pact.
With this new agreement in place, Obama is now leading an international charge for action against climate change, whether or not our corporate Congress supports it. And, honestly, it doesn’t matter what policies the corporations covet or what the delusional deniers wish; the future of humankind is at stake here—nothing less—and Obama realizes the gravity of the situation fully.
In this and many other respects, our president is on the right side of history. He has held steadfast in his determination to make lasting progress on climate change at home, and has now extended that same spirit abroad. With the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris just over the horizon, the timing couldn’t be better either for sowing the seeds of international solidarity on climate.
When the time comes to confront the Keystone XL pipeline, Obama will take his stand and cement his legacy as the patron saint of alternative energy, both at home and abroad. The times, they are a-changin’, and it’s finally time to change out the tired energy policies of the last two centuries in exchange for a healthier and brighter tomorrow.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @OnlyH_man
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.