The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 1

Rolling Stone: “Instead of taking the fight to big polluters, President Obama has put global warming on the back burner”

Climate Fail

UPDATE:  Sens. Reid and Kerry made it official today — the mostly dead climate bill is now extinct.  It has passed on!   It is is no more!  It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-CLIMATE BILL!!

… the disaster in the Gulf should have been a critical turning point for global warming. Handled correctly, the BP spill should have been to climate legislation what September 11th was to the Patriot Act, or the financial collapse was to the bank bailout. Disasters drive sweeping legislation, and precedent was on the side of a great leap forward in environmental progress. In 1969, an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California – of only 100,000 barrels, less than the two-day output of the BP gusher – prompted Richard Nixon to create the EPA and sign the Clean Air Act.

But the Obama administration let the opportunity slip away….

That’s from a must-read Rolling Stone obit “Climate Bill, R.I.P.” excerpted below.

As I’ve said many times, Obama’s legacy “” and indeed the legacy of all 21st century presidents, starting with George W. Bush “” will be determined primarily by whether we avert catastrophic climate change (see “Will eco-disasters destroy Obama’s legacy?“). If not, then Obama “” and all of us “” will be seen as a failure, and rightfully so.

There would be no other way to judge all of us if we (and the rest of the world) stay on our current greenhouse gas emissions path, which risks warming most of the inland United States by nine degrees or more by century’s end and which could lead to sea levels 3 to 6 feet higher (rising perhaps a foot or more a decade after that), cause the Southwest “” from Kansas to California “” to become a permanent dust bowl, and transform much of the ocean into a hot, acidic dead zone (see “An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water “). All of this would make the BP oil disaster fade into distant memory.

By the end of the third decade of this century, all of American life “” politics, international relations, our homes, our jobs, our industries, the kind of cars we drive “” will be forever transformed by the climate and energy challenge.

Obama is the first president in history to articulate in stark terms both the why and how of the sustainable clean energy vision. Last April, he said, “The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline.” In October, he said at MIT, “There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy “” when it’s the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs.”

Pretty (harsh) words.  But the question now is whether he really believed what he said.  On the one hand, he made bigger  investments in clean energy than all of his predecessors combined and  put into place fuel economy standards that represent the biggest greenhouse gas reductions in US history and his EPA  has declared carbon dioxide a pollutant that must be regulated because it endangers public health and he personally intervened to stop the Chinese from making Copenhagen a total failure.  These are major achievements that  under any other circumstances would make Obama the greenest president in US history.

But on the other hand — or really it is the other hand, heart, brain, and rest of body — he has let any chance of comprehensive climate legislation die without a fight.  Many of us  have documented this emerging story  piece by piece over at past year, but Rolling Stone puts it all together:

A comprehensive energy and climate bill – the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda – is officially dead. Take it from the president’s own climate czar, Carol Browner. “What is abundantly clear,” she told Rolling Stone in an exclusive interview on July 8th, “is that an economy-wide program, which the president has talked about for years now, is not doable in the Senate.”

But the failure to confront global warming – central not only to Obama’s presidency but to the planet itself – is not the Senate’s alone. Rather than press forward with a climate bill in the Senate last summer, after the House had passed landmark legislation to curb carbon pollution, the administration repeated many of the same mistakes it made in pushing for health care reform. It refused to lay out its own plan, allowing the Senate to bicker endlessly over the details. It pursued a “stealth strategy” of backroom negotiations, supporting huge new subsidies to win over big polluters. It allowed opponents to use scare phrases like “cap and tax” to hijack public debate. And most galling of all, it has failed to use the gravest environmental disaster in the nation’s history to push through a climate bill – to argue that fossil-fuel polluters should pay for the damage they are doing to the atmosphere, just as BP will be forced to pay for the damage it has done to the Gulf.

Top environmental groups, including Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, are openly clashing with the administration, demanding that Obama provide more hands-on leadership to secure a meaningful climate bill. “We really need the president to take the lead and tell us what bill he’s going to support,” says Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund. “If he doesn’t do that, then everything he’s done so far will lead to nothing.”

But Obama, so far, has shown no urgency on the issue, and little willingness to lead – despite a June poll showing that 76 percent of Americans believe the government should limit climate pollution.

The question I’ve been asked most often by people in  California is why has Obama walked on this issue.

I have discussed this in previous posts, especially “The unbearable lameness of being (Rahm and Axelrod),” and I’ll be coming back to it again in future posts since  I’m quite sure it is going to be a great puzzle to future historians in the hothouse, who will not at all be interested in the story of healthcare reform or financial services reform or the deficit or the war in Afghanistan or all those other issues that Obama and his team think will determine his legacy.

Fundamentally, Rahm and Axelrod simply don’t get global warming.  They bought the nonsensical argument based on bad polling analysis that there was no good way to talk about it (see Messaging 101b: EcoAmerica’s phrase ‘our deteriorating atmosphere’ isn’t going to replace ‘global warming’ “” and that’s a good thing and Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming?).

They bought the even more nonsensical argument that comprehensive energy and climate legislation was not a politically winning issue, see Mark Mellman must read on climate messaging: “A strong public consensus has emerged on the reality and severity of global warming, as well as on the need for federal action” “” ecoAmerica “could hardly be more wrong” or many, many polls (see also links at the end):

While many of us had been assured that Obama got it, that he really believed what he said in his speeches, as opposed to sharing the climate-destroying, legacy-destroying views of Rahm and Axelrod, ultimately Obama runs the White House and is responsible for what actually happens and what he himself says:

From the start, Obama has led from behind on climate change. Shortly after he took office, the White House seemed inconvenienced when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made climate change a top priority, moving swiftly to push a cap on carbon pollution through the House. Rep. Henry Waxman, who played an instrumental role in the legislation, was frustrated by the White House’s refusal to come up with specifics to guide the effort. “Browner tried to produce a detailed policy position,” says Eric Pooley, author of the just-published The Climate War, a definitive account of the legislative fight. “But that effort was blocked.” Obama’s top political advisers, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, pointedly avoided the legislative battle, viewing it as politically unwinnable.

So Waxman moved on his own. Working with Rep. Ed Markey, he caught the White House off guard by cutting the difficult political compromises that were necessary to gain the support of coal-state Democrats and bringing the bill to a vote. It took Al Gore sitting down with Emanuel and going over voting lists, name by name, to persuade the White House to throw its muscle behind the bill and pressure congressional holdouts to fall in line. On June 26th, the measure passed by the narrowest of margins, 219-212.

But despite having a climate bill in hand, the White House decided to put its muscle into passing health care reform. Emanuel promised climate advocates that the administration would return to global warming in early 2010. By then, however, the drawn-out fight for health care was on life support, and Democrats no longer held a 60-vote edge in the Senate. The momentum on climate legislation had been squandered. “It’s a shame, because the window really was 2009,” Pooley says. “It wasn’t going to be easy, but if you don’t even try, you’re not going to get it done – and they didn’t even try.”

By waiting until after the health care fight, the Obama administration also allowed the energy industry and its conservative allies to mobilize their troops and hone their anti-climate rhetoric. Taking a page from the “death panel” lies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and energy-funded groups like Americans for Prosperity waged an all-out campaign against the climate bill, indelibly branding common-sense penalties on climate polluters as “taxes.” With no one making an effective pitch for economy-wide carbon limits, “cap and trade” quickly became the bill that dare not speak its name.

I’m not certain I agree with that 100% — but I’d say it is 90% right.  The polling on the climate bill was always strong but the White House always thought it was a political loser.

Since team Obama sucks at messaging so badly, it’s impossible to know whether any strategy would have worked (see Is progressive messaging a “massive botch”? Part 2: Drew Westen on how “The White House has squandered the greatest opportunity to change both the country and the political landscape since Ronald Reagan”).

As  I’ve said many times, when you are catastrophically bad at messaging,  you simply can’t tell if you failed because of your messaging or whether you failed because you had a bad strategy, too.  Bad messaging trumps everything, especially in the face of the most effective disinformation campaign in human history.

But as Pooley says, if you don’t try than you can’t possibly succeed, which brings us to the oil spill:

… the disaster in the Gulf should have been a critical turning point for global warming. Handled correctly, the BP spill should have been to climate legislation what September 11th was to the Patriot Act, or the financial collapse was to the bank bailout. Disasters drive sweeping legislation, and precedent was on the side of a great leap forward in environmental progress. In 1969, an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California – of only 100,000 barrels, less than the two-day output of the BP gusher – prompted Richard Nixon to create the EPA and sign the Clean Air Act.

But the Obama administration let the opportunity slip away. On June 15th, the president – a communicator whom even top Republican operatives rank above Reagan – sat at his desk to deliver his first address to the nation from the Oval Office. It was a terrible, teachable moment, one in which he could have connected the dots between the oil spewing into the Gulf and the planet-killing CO2 we spew every day into the atmosphere. But Obama never even mentioned the words “carbon” or “emissions” or “greenhouse” – not even the word “pollution.” The president’s sole mention of “climate” came in a glancing description of the “comprehensive energy and climate bill” that the House passed. In a moment that cried out for direction-setting from the nation’s chief executive, Obama brought no concrete ideas to the table. Restating the need to break our addiction to fossil fuels, he stared at the camera and confessed that “we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there.” He didn’t challenge Americans to examine their own energy habits. He didn’t rally his fellow Democrats into a fight with the Republican Party of “Smokey” Joe Barton, the Texas Republican who later apologized to BP. Far from offering a clarion call for action, Obama said, meekly, that he would listen to give senators from both parties a “fair hearing in the months ahead.” Then he asked us to pray.

Climate advocates were stunned. “That speech wasn’t anything different than Bush gave in an energy address,” says Pica. “There was nothing new about climate and energy – it didn’t move the debate forward. If he was going to recycle the same old talking points, maybe he should have just let Robert Gibbs give a little talk about it to the press corps.”

Climate advocates have been indeed been stunned by Obama’s  stunning indifference to the defining issue of our time in his presidency over the past few months.

… the president never picked up on the calls for action. Fed up, nine high-profile environmental groups – including Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists – wrote a scathing open letter to the White House, pleading with Obama not to fumble away this opportunity. “A rapidly growing number of our millions of active members are deeply frustrated at the inability of the Senate and your administration to act in the face of an overwhelming disaster in the Gulf, and the danger to our nation and world,” the letter warned. “The Senate needs your help to end this paralysis. With the window of opportunity quickly closing, nothing less than your direct personal involvement, and that of senior administration officials, can secure America’s clean-energy future.”

Since Obama  ignored the call for direct personal involvement on  comprehensive climate and energy action, one can only assume he is just not that into it.  Future generations and future historians will judge him accordingly.

People ask me “What about next year?”  If Obama is not going to use the biggest fossil fuel disaster in US history to push for serious climate action when he has the biggest Democratic majorities he is ever going to see, why on Earth would he try under far worse political conditions, when the likelihood of success is far lower, after the House has been burned by believing Obama would back them on their tough vote.

The chances of  anything beyond a utility-only greenhouse gas control regime in the next two years is  vanishingly small — and even that would require Obama to utterly reverse his indifference or, seeing as how it appears to be a character trait, a tragic flaw in the Shakespearean sense, it  would require Obama to utterly reverse his (globally) cool detachment.

And speaking of Shakespeare, here’s  a classic quote that captures the moment Obama missed with the BP oil disaster:

We at the height are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I’ll  have more to say on that in future posts.

UPDATE:   For the sake of completeness and  so as not to be misunderstood by those who aren’t regular readers and didn’t see my June 30 post (“Republicans demagogue against market-oriented climate measures they once supported“), most of the blame should go to the anti-science, pro-pollution ideologues. They have spread disinformation and poisoned the debate so that is no longer even recognizable.  Who could have guessed just  a couple of years ago, that the GOP  champion of climate action would now trash  a bill considerably weaker than the one he tried to pass twice? (see Rolling Stone on “The Climate Killers: 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb the climate catastrophe.”)

And if you are keeping score at home in the blame game, the media is the second most culpable group for their generally enabling coverage “” see Must-read (again) study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics “” “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.” along with And the 2009 “Citizen Kane” award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to “¦

Those two groups deserve about 90% of the blame (60-30?), I think (assuming that we assume the 60 vote antidemocratic super majority requirement is unchangeable).  The other 10% goes to Obama and his team (along with Senate Democrats, scientists, environmentalists, and progressives) — and let’s  not forget the “Think Small” centrists who  also helped shrink the political space in the debate (see “Michael Lind of the New America Foundation misinforms on both climate science and clean energy“).

Can’t cry so might as well laugh:

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160 Responses to The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 1

  1. Gregory Norminton says:

    Phew – this is depressing stuff.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    The topic will not go away and with time it will just become more urgent to act. If the hurricane predictions play out – this coupled with the oil volcano impact will create the momentum needed. And above all this you have these heatwaves, flooding, storms, drought, health impacts etc. etc. et cetera. So i do not see a reason so far to blame obama because he wasn’t so far involved with a comprehensive energy bill.

  3. Leif says:

    Second that Gregory.

    So much hope, so little action.

    I guess it is up to the people.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    What im missing the most atm is a strong message from current military and intelligence community – to create trust and unity.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:


    This is depressing stuff, I agree.

    It’s a bit ironic that the generations that grew up with Rolling Stone magazine — a magazine that covered the influential artists who “spoke” for our generations and whose music (presumably) illustrated the ways in which we wanted the world to improve — are now reading in Rolling Stone about how badly we have lived up to the ideals that we presumably held.

    Although I agree, and am saddened, that the administration has dropped a Big Ball on this one — most likely the biggest ball ever dropped — I think that we should be deeply disappointed in the way our own generations have acted (to continue the causal problems) and have not acted (to bring about the necessary changes). We should be ashamed. Period.

    But there is still time — if we find ourselves and get our act together. Otherwise, “what was it all about?”

    Also, if Rahm and Axelrod do not “get” climate change, and its vital importance, and/or if they are the sources of the ineffective strategies and tactics that President Obama has (incorrectly) relied upon, they should be gone — pronto. On this issue, ineffectiveness is not an option, and we can’t (and shouldn’t) live with it. If they are the problems, they should resign or be fired. Period.

    I’m eager to read the full article. I just hope it doesn’t make my eyes pop out.

    By the way, Joe, your talk at the Commonwealth Club was great, honest, insightful, and engaging.



  6. Peter Bellin says:

    I agree that the White House does not appreicate the need for dramatic action on this issue. This lack of vision, and their misplaced perception that health care insurance reform and financial reform are more important is misplaced.

    Too many politicians see this as a political issue, so that the solid science foundation gets lost in the muddle. The Republicans clearly use the difficult response that is required as a way to gain power, and stymie the Democrats however they can.

    Short term financial and political gain will trump effective climate action.

    I believe that Joe is correct that President Obama as lost his chance at an enduring legacy; I strongly doubt that the next Congress will be able to enact an effect climate response strategy.

  7. Oliver James says:

    The BP disaster also should have ushered in a new era of world peace and free donuts for all, of only it were played properly. Oh, those incompetent leaders.

    Yes, I think that it’s possible that more aggressive use of the disaster might have helped a bit with the climate bill, but it is facing other headwinds: ongoing financial legislation, other legislative needs like unemployment, etc; the outsized power of the oil lobby fighting climate legis due to insane campaign finance laws; and the politics of upcoming elections (oh yeah, elections are coming up). These are all much larger parts of the situation here – not administration messaging. I think that the ascribing of magical persuasion powers to Obama is also incorrect…and strange.

    Really, this kind of criticism is woefully naive. Public opinion and decisions by legislators arent’ so directly linked and don’t work so simply and quickly. But I do agree that in the long run we (and the current administration) will be judged on whether the climate ball was moved forward significantly or not.

    Given our current system structure, this is all sadly not surprising. We need a much larger grassroots movement in addition to what we have so far to push climate over the finish line, past the money advantage of the other side. As we can see from opinion polls, climate change is far from the number 1 issue for most voters – even though we all think it should be.

  8. john atcheson says:

    The Obama administration couldn’t take advantage of the BP disaster to move energy and climate legislation for one simple reason: They’d preemptively capitulated to the drill-baby-drill crowd only two weeks before by coming out in support of expanding off-shore drilling. Once they did that, it was impossible for them to be credible in using this to move the country in a sane direction.

    It’s precisely this neo-triangualtion that has strangled this administration from the start. A stimulus too small; a split-the-difference health care bill; a financial reform bill that didn’t fix too big to fail or deal with Glass-Steagall — on and on it goes.

    Here’s the ultimate irony — the Axelrod/Emanuel political strategy is going to kill them politically.

    We are a nation at a cross roads, seeking leadership. We’re desperate for it. But rather than lead, and move the middle to the left, Obama is adopting a long failed strategy by moving the country to the right. We’re like the yokel victims of the-wallet-on-a-string game: every time we think we’ve got the wallet they jerk it a little further to the right, and, issuing a laugh not unlike Goofy, we follow.

    Some may argue that we wouldn’t have gotten anything if we hadn’t compromised. What they fail to realize, is that by strategically raising issues and standing on principles, we win even when we lose. Imagine, for example, if two weeks before the BP disaster Obama had said,” I do not support off-shore drilling; I believe it is unsafe, and unnecessary, and I believe it prevents us from becoming leaders in the global race to become the 21st Century’s energy leader.”

    Would he have taken it on the chin? Maybe. But being on the side of reality ultimately would have paid off. Republicans didn’t move to the left when Goldwater got trounced — they honed their message and strategically moved the country to the right, over the long haul, suffering defeats along the way. And they were working on myths — imagine what we could do with just a little courage with reality on our side.

    At some point, we need to stop, stand up, explain the people that the wallet is empty — Ronald Reagan took all the money and gave it to the rich.

    When we do, we will start winning — not only when the Republicans are so blindly incompetent, openly hypocritical and glaringly criminal that they have no choice but to vote Democratic, but when they are given a choice of ideologies and they understand that one represents them; the other the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich.

  9. Lewis W. says:

    Seems more like alcoholism inducing stuff.

  10. MMonides says:

    The willingness of so-called “progressives” to look at one of the most active and progressive legislative sessions in history and poo-poo it for not getting to THEIR issue is what’s depressing.

    When Obama, and FDR before him said “Make me,” they meant you have to make the issue a national priority in the face of a host of competing issues.

    In other words, if you want to lay blame for legislative inaction, make sure you serve yourself a large helping.

    [JR: Uhh, the progressive movement and the environmental community Put more collective effort into making this issue a national priority then I believe has ever occurred in US history. That story will be written, but team Obama certainly knows it is true. That is why in a dozen polls, comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation wins by 10 to 15 points, whereas healthcare consistently loses by 10 points.

    I’ve repeatedly made clear that most of the blame lies with anti-science, pro-pollution conservatives and the media. But Obama certainly deserves more than the progressive community as a whole.]

  11. Oliver James says:

    Because of the systemic hurdles, we also now need to move to a multiple front strategy, away from a comprehensive federal strategy. We can accomplish much that way, and pave the way

    Joe, for the first time, I think you’re losing your strategic perspective. I think your criticism is based too much on the idea that a leader (any leader) can persuade the US public and politicians through rational argument. Message is important, but “message-ism-as-gospel” (Westen, Lakoff, is ultimately a distracting dead end. It’s more about organizing and money, and coordinating those weapons…it’s much much less about words.

  12. ken levenson says:

    I think Obama is the turtle….he has plodded along and gotten more done than any modern president – he is being frustratingly, maddeningly strategic and steady in his moves. But I think he will get there – and I’m still willing to bet that he gets farther, quicker than anyone really thought possible.

    My bet is that, while the Senate remains a morass, rather than waste his “energy”, he’s really waiting for China to make a bigger and bolder move.

    Once China really gets serious…in months, not years, it will be a paradigm shift, major leverage will be exposed and Obama can make things happen in a big way. He will make it happen, we just have to stay constructive…..and not go insane in the meantime…

  13. Prokaryotes says:


    ken levenson, #14 “I think Obama is the turtle….he has plodded along and gotten more done than any modern president – he is being frustratingly, maddeningly strategic and steady in his moves. But I think he will get there – and I’m still willing to bet that he gets farther, quicker than anyone really thought possible.”

  14. paulm says:

    I must admit I get the uneasy feeling that Obama is just doing what he does…
    ie playing both sides as best he can.

    Does he really get Global Warming….looking less and less so.

  15. SecularAnimist says:

    john atcheson wrote: “The Obama administration couldn’t take advantage of the BP disaster to move energy and climate legislation for one simple reason: They’d preemptively capitulated to the drill-baby-drill crowd only two weeks before by coming out in support of expanding off-shore drilling.”

    That is THE most important fact about this whole situation, and yet it is rarely even mentioned now that only weeks before the BP blowout, Obama announced the largest expansion of off-shore oil drilling in US history — promoted by Ken Salazar who previously had criticized the Bush administration for not moving fast enough to expand offshore oil drilling — and accompanied by Palin-like happy talk about how it could all be done “safely” and “protecting coastlines and communities”.

    john atcheson wrote: “Once they did that, it was impossible for them to be credible in using this to move the country in a sane direction.”

    Once they did that, it was evident that the Obama administration was not really interested in “moving the country in a sane direction”, but in perpetuating fossil fuel consumption, by expanding off-shore drilling, funding the “clean coal” hoax, etc.

  16. Daniel Ives says:

    Joe, a quick question.

    Do you think Obama might wait until the Gulf well is 100% killed with the relief wells and then use the positive momentum from that to push climate and clean energy legislation?

    I realize that the August recess will be well underway by then and that the November elections will then take center stage. Perhaps I’m just being desperate in my question above. I just don’t want to lose hope so quickly.

    [JR: No. See the Shakespeare quote I just added.]

  17. paulm says:

    #7 Peter Bellin …”I believe that Joe is correct that President Obama as lost his chance at an enduring legacy..”

    Legacy!….there ain’t going to be nothing left to experience legacy the way things are going.

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    Reid set to put off climate bill

  19. Daniel Ives says:

    RE: Joe’s update.

    I certainly agree pretty well with your distribution of blame, with one caveat. Had Obama pushed for the bill and it had come up for a vote in the Senate and failed there, then yes, I’d visciously blame the right-wing disinformers and the media. But the fact that it is dying without even a fight makes me feel that more blame should be alotted to Obama and his administration. He didn’t even try.

  20. DRT says:

    I am not expecting much from this, but at least I get to vent. I just emailed the following at the contact site.

    Dear Mr. President,
    Thank you for all you have done so far clean energy and climate change initiatives.

    Please don’t make this,”Instead of taking the fight to big polluters, President Obama has put global warming on the back burner”, ,come true.

    I believe your presidency has had significant successes in the bail-outs, health care legislation, and just now the financial reform bill; however, as important as these issues are, they pale in comparison to the consequences of global warming. If the bail-outs and health care and financial reform had not happened I grant you that bad things would happen, but the consequences of NOT fixing global warming are dire and overwhelming. I am sure I do not need to repeat for you here the litany of woe that will befall humanity if we continue on a business as usual path. We could have stumbled along with bad health care, or lousy financial regulation, but when the oceans rise, crops fail, rains don’t fall, glaciers melt, giant clouds of methane spew from the tundra, etc. etc. etc., stumbling along will no longer be an option.

    Please Mr. President, we need your leadership on this now. Combating climate change must be your and the nations top priority. We need an economy wide cap all on global warming gasses now. If we don’t get this right, nothing else matters.

  21. Remember that we get these facts through a corp media filter that is designed to depress progressives: The Hill, Politico, the NYT, the whole punditocracy etc. Up till Health care passed, remember how it was dead for six months.

    I am still praying that at the last minute this will happen. Of course it can’t get 60 votes. But I am hoping Reid brings it up for 60 votes repeatedly right before the recess till one or two Rs crumble, they pass something at the last minute, and then that can be improved upo in a lame duck session in conference with the House bill.

    After all the clever sneaky things Obama has done to get around R/fossil industry via the EPA and DOE’s excellent deployment of green stimulus funds, I find it hard to believe he is not engaged.

    That’s exactly what they said about him re healthcare all those months while it was “dead”…. till it passed.

  22. thomas says:

    The worst part about this is that billions of people outside of the United States will suffer for our pathetic inability to do anything on climate change. We are no longer a country fit to lead the world.

  23. catman306 says:

    Maybe the Senate will rid itself of the hideous 60 vote filibuster rule and put forth a REAL climate bill that can be passed.

    Maybe aliens will land and solve our energy and climate change problems for us.

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    “Maybe aliens will land and solve our energy and climate change problems for us.”

    They observe us and judge on our actions – or rather of our in-actions. Once the clathrate gun hits earth makes a nice destination for alien colonization.

  25. Michael Tucker says:

    I am disappointed in President Obama’s effort so far in getting a cap ’n trade bill passed but his first term is not over yet. I completely agree with this summary:

    “he made bigger investments in clean energy than all of his predecessors combined and put into place fuel economy standards that represent the biggest greenhouse gas reductions in US history and his EPA has declared carbon dioxide a pollutant that must be regulated because it endangers public health and he personally intervened to stop the Chinese from letting Copenhagen end in total failure. These are major achievements that under any other circumstances would make Obama the greenest president in US history.”

    Maybe he should have used the Gulf disaster to push cap ‘n trade but I can guaranty that such a push, with the drilling moratorium in place, would have caused a huge political fight. The Republicans would talk endlessly about how cap ‘n trade would further hurt the economy. It does not matter if they are wrong. They would talk endlessly about how the debt, unemployment, and a cap ‘n trade bill will destroy America. It does not matter if they are wrong. As we have seen with the birth certificate issue and the death panels, Republicans can keep any lie going and stir up profound discontent.

    He might have been counseled to do nothing that might hurt Democrats up for reelection while keeping in mind that EPA could still do something to limit CO2 even without a climate bill. I think he should have made a climate bill the first priority instead of health care, but that was then and this is now. By the way, I only have faith in President Obama’s enthusiasm for a real climate bill that would limit CO2 and give us a true energy policy and plan for the future because of his choice of Steven Chu for Energy Secretary (and Chu’s acceptance). Ever since Obama endorsed offshore drilling and ‘clean coal’ in the campaign I have been suspicious of his personal motivation. Maybe, like some, he thinks we still have plenty of time to take action on greenhouse gasses.

    I think we need to keep in mind the other vitally important issues he is facing. You did not mention his important efforts in nuclear arms reduction and nuclear materials proliferation. With Pakistan in possession of nuclear weapons and considering Pakistan’s importance in the Afghanistan/Bin Laden mess, Obama and the State Department have been very busy. Pakistan is much more troublesome than N Korea or Iran but State prefers to deal with it out of the media spotlight.

    Many think we have already dodged the nuclear bullet and that the only calamity in the way of future prosperity and progress is global warming. However, we have not dodged the nuclear bullet and it is not at all clear what the world will actually be like by the end of this century. Remember Pakistan has actual nuclear weapons while Iran is still in the process of development. Pakistan and India have not settled their problems and no progress is being made. Now Pakistan and India are arguing over Afghanistan; India made a deal with Iran to build a road from India to Afghanistan through Iran. India too has nuclear weapons. Now how stable are these governments? How do Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Iran compare in this regard? According to this years rating by Foreign Policy Magazine: Afghanistan is rated 6, Pakistan is rated 10, Iran is 38, and India is 87. So Pakistan is less stable than Haiti (number 11 on the list) and much less stable than N Korea (19) and has nuclear weapons. This Gordian Knot will be difficult to unloose.

    So, even though I am disappointed I would not yet call Obama’s presidency failed yet. I recognize that he has many more important issues besides the US economy, the Gulf disaster, our two wars, and a climate bill to worry about.

  26. Peter Mizla says:

    I read the Rolling Stone article- the cartoon that accompanied it was not really appropriate.

    It sadly in some ways is an honest portrayal of Barack Obama’s presidency-

    He has in fact produced more reform and legislation since the Great Society- but somehow it seems diluted by the press and unsympathetic pundits.

    Climate change will be left for future Presidents- they have my sympathy.

  27. mike roddy says:

    Good one, John Atcheson, #9. I also got a bad feeling when Obama made sure the insurance companies make even more money with his health care bill, and didn’t give the banks much of a slap with “financial reform”- more like a little shoulder massage. The April decision to expand offshore drilling fit the pattern.

    Emanuel and Axelrod deserve our scorn, and are little better than Rove, but it’s deeper than that. Our president has forgotten that both his power and his moral authority come from the people. When greed crazed and malevolent corporations continue to dictate the terms of any legislation or even executive action, we no longer have a functioning democracy.

    Obama still believes that you get things done by placating companies like Peabody, Southern, Exxon, GP, and the rest of them, and that somehow the public interest will be advanced. Our president apparently hangs with these guys, and is impressed by their “serious” demeanor and beautiful suits.

    It’s extremely important that he abandon this instinct, which derives from a lifetime of working through the kind of channels he nurtured from his Harvard Law days. By championing effective climate legislation, he will enrage the “center” of his party, campaign contributors, and the virulent disease that is inaccurately called the Right in this country.

    Obama is too young to realize that if he did this, his power and effectiveness would increase, since we have become a very cynical country, stirred mostly by flag waving and minority bashing pablum. Little does he know that we are actually better than that, something he fooled us into thinking he understood during his campaign.

    Americans like a president who instinctively acts for the people, and pisses off fat cats while doing so. We have noticed our president’s deference to oil companies, defense lobbies, and banks, a lot more than he realizes. The last time straight talking happened was under Truman, who died around the time Obama was born. He’d better start watching some old film, and soon. Then, he needs to take an inner journey, and become the man that the world needs so desperately.

    And Ken Levenson, don’t wait for China- they just signed a 20 year, $80 billion contract to import coal from Australia, even though they have lots of it themselves. They, and everybody else, are waiting for us- and are very troubled by what they have seen.

  28. George says:

    I had pinned much hope on President Obama blowing the “bugle” to lead the charge on climate change legislation. Instead we have a President who is blowing the bugle for retreat. He and his staff seemed consumed by this quixotic search for bipartisanship. He has absolutely nothing to show for that search except mangled legislation on healthcare, financial reform and possibly climate change.

    At this point I am resigned to the fact that the Republicans have blunted any political momentum towards dealing with either energy, oil dependency and climate change possibly for another decade. Unfortunately by 2020 I suspect we will be looking back and discussing a number of the tipping points passed with respect to climate and ecosystems.

  29. Peter Mizla says:

    The failure of the republicans in policy- dealing with our profound problems is as much as an Achilles heel, as Obama’ fear to deal effectively with the problems we have from health care, finance reform to climate change.

  30. Eric says:

    TPM is reporting that the climate bill is truly dead as of about an hour ago.

  31. Eric says:

    …. til fall. That’ll work well.

    “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring a limited package of oil spill response and energy measures to the floor next week, delaying action until at least this fall on a broader proposal that would impose greenhouse gas limits on power plants, senior Senate Democratic aides said.”

  32. PSU Grad says:

    This and the Sherrod incident have caused me to reassess my views toward this White House. What we have now is still better than the alternative we had in 2008 (Palin as VP…really???), but I sure wish they’d “grow a set”.

    The BP oil spew was one thing. But I just did some calculations for calendar year 2010 through July 21, and here’s what I determined about this year’s temperatures:

    Days average temp above normal – 132 or 65.4%
    Days average temp below normal – 64 or 31.6%
    Days average temp at normal – 6 or 3.0%

    In any election, 65-31 would be considered a landslide. Yet nothing happens in Washington. And where’s Inhofe with his igloo? Where’s Cavuto telling us “it sure is warm out there?” And why isn’t anyone challenging them?

  33. PSU Grad says:

    Sorry, that should have read “this year’s temperatures in my area”. I didn’t mean to imply the country/hemisphere/world, etc.

  34. Barry says:

    The blame lies with the President on this I’m afraid.

    He is in charge. He had the majority of the nation behind the notion of limiting climate pollution somehow. He was handed a costly and divisive “war for oil” everyone wants out of. He got a two month oil disaster filling the mediascape 24/7. Global temps are off the charts. Major ecosystems are in visible climate freefall. Europe is begging. China is surging in clean tech.

    And Obama balks.

    Blaming the minority in Senate is effectively saying “the buck stops over there with the out-of-power whiners.”

    Obama definitely doesn’t get it. Hansen says so right in his book.

    We were always going to have to do it without him it seems. Coal is as Coal does. Time to stop looking for Obama to help us and refocus on our Senators and Reps and state actions. That’s what we have at this point.

    Huge disappointment.

  35. Lou Grinzo says:

    In this situation we see one of the fundamental differences between lefties and righties in the US. Whether they have the slimmest of edges or an overwhelming one, righties act as if they have a huge “mandate” (remember that from just after the 2004 election?) and push, full speed ahead, and don’t give a flying fig about what anyone says. If in the minority, they shamelessly obfuscate and lie, knowing it will play well with their base and their largest donors.

    Lefties fall prey to the siren call of wanting to prove they’re smarter than everyone else in the room by finding a way to “work the system”. This usually involves placating (read: buying off) the opposition, and hoarding political capital/keeping their powder dry. (I remember clearly some pundit (Broder?) writing in the early 1990’s about how GHW Bush got some advice in his 91% approval days not to try to save his political capital, but to spend it getting things done. The advice came from Nixon, of all people.)

    Considering how this country has treated leadership in difficult situations (e.g. Carter and energy), I guess none of us should be surprised what lesson the Dems have learned.

    And it makes me physically ill to think about the staggering cost of further delay on CC.

  36. Eric says:

    @Barry, “We were always going to have to do it without him it seems.” – honestly, without congress as well I think. Let’s hope they don’t take the power from the states and then sit on it.

    Piecemeal is better than no meal, I guess.


  37. Having a president who might possibly sometimes on a good day listen to and understand the problem was only one part of the job. The next part is building a movement strong enough to give him and others room to operate, and punish the recalcitrant. What we’ve built so far isn’t big enough. 10-10-10 is the next big opportunity worldwide, many thanks to everyone already digging in to help.

  38. Jon says:

    I’d be tempted to think the EPA using its regulatory authority is a better outcome than we can hope to get legislatively no matter what the administration does but that leaves the worry that it won’t take a very large swing in the midterm elections for another legislative effort to prohibit the EPA using that authority to succeed.

  39. Rockfish says:

    I think Obama’s undoing will be his failure to address jobs. Instead, he used his short-term congressional majority to get health care done. It was obviously his first and only priority. The jury is still out on whether it will change anything. Fin Reg was a political necessity, and it got watered down enough that it won’t have any real impact, either. He could care less about climate and energy, that is obvious.
    But by failing to address jobs, he will lose any ability to move legislation forward after November (unless there are some very brave lame ducks out there) and, I predict, he’ll lose in 2012 when the economy is still in the dumps.
    It’s the economy, stupid. It always has been, and always will be.

  40. Leif says:

    Photos from the gulf: Not for the faint of heart.

    If we cannot get an energy bill with this coming down, well I do not give humanity much chance…

    I am going to the garden and eat worms.

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    Revkin’s take and reminder about a major speech on CC.

    “The president should deliver a major speech on climate change to the American public, using all the props and charts he can muster to bring the message home. The public interest requires it.”

    With No Obama Push, Senate Punts on Climate

  42. The problem with Global Warming, Peak Oil, Overpopulation, Resource Depletion, Extinction (and so forth …) is that it is very easy for the public (with the assistance of the mass media and corporate propagandists) to dismiss the threat and pretend it doesn’t exist until something really dramatic occurs which indicates otherwise.

    An analogy: A lot of people are allowed to die at unsafe intersections before the government finally gets around to fixing the problem. The government responds slowly to danger even when it is an immediate life-and-death matter.

    Another analogy: The federal, state and city government knew that New Orleans would flood should a major hurricane strike but for decades no one attempted to solve the problem or provide an effective means of emptying people from the city should the need arise. Nearly 2000 people died and everyone pointed fingers at each other.

    Addressing the large scale problems facing humankind demands foresight, wisdom and bravery from our political leadership, traits which aren’t exactly honored in a democracy. Our politicians, including democrats, often serve as corporate enablers and corporate defenders before they leave government in order to become wealthy corporate lobbyists.

    It is very likely that no one in American government will seriously address global warming until the high tide reaches downtown Miami. In other words:

    Humankind won’t address global warming in a substantial serious manner until it is too late.

    Just as:

    Americans won’t become serious about not wasting gasoline until Peak Oil has made itself evident by gasoline reaching $8 a gallon. $4 a gallon didn’t really get the message across.

  43. From Peru says:

    What the hell is needed to push climate action, perhaps a …


  44. LucAstro says:

    The current presidency had to be transformative, or not be. By simply aiming at success and by choosing intelligent but clueless political advisers, Obama ensured the opposite. Infamy is now a more likely outcome. We are facing the prospect of having to loose the next 7 years before we get another chance: A) the spectacle of the next 2.5 years confirming a failing precidency, B) the following 4 years at the hands of the Republican and at the onset of peak oil, which will amount to another eye opener but catastrophic Bush-like (think Palin) presidency and then C) the beginning of a new president that finally gets it. Is this scenario plausible enough?

  45. Seth Masia says:

    It is depressing. Axelrod and Rahm don’t get it.

    I grew up in Chicago, where Obama the Obama team learned their moves. Illinois is a centralized-power state. It mines coal downstate. With Commonwealth Edison, Samuel Insull literally invented the modern electric utility company in Chicago, based on huge coal-fired steam-turbine central power plants. Illinois produces about 10 percent of America’s nuclear power — after all, the reactor was invented at Stagg Field.

    The general level of energy literacy in Chicago is abysmal. The two daily newspapers rank near the bottom among major American papers in the frequency and depth of energy reporting. Renewable energy is not top-of-mind for public officials. Scandal is, and always has been.

    The state now claims about a gigawatt of installed wind power. That’s a nice start, but cynics remember that when H.L. Mencken called Chicago “that Windy City,” he was writing about its politicians, not its weather.

    This administration is a huge improvement over what has gone before, but I’m afraid the White House/Hyde Park culture won’t support the effort needed to save the planet.

  46. Colorado Bob says:

    If you listen carefully you can hear Siberia thawing :

    Heat wave bakes Russia: It’s so hot that squirrels stay inside

    A heat wave in Russia is behind wildfires and the worst drought in 130 years. In Moscow, people – and animals – are seeking ways to stay cool. Crops are withering. Temperatures this weekend could break a 30-year record.

  47. fj2 says:

    Not clear what this means from Republican DoT Secretary Ray LaHood?

    Subject: DOT Secretary’s blog update–Netroots Nation puts focus on listening, engagement & representation
    Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 15:01:39 -0500

    Who would have ever thought that a Republican from Peoria would end up at a progressive bloggers conference in Las Vegas?

    I just finished speaking on a panel at Netroots Nation, an annual conference for online progressive activists which attracts some of the best and brightest minds in politics and policy today. I was joined by David Alpert from Greater Greater Washington, Duncan (Atrios) Black from Eschaton, and Radhika Fox from PolicyLink…

    You can read more about Netroots Nation at

  48. Eli Snyder says:

    “Curse-a you Banzai! Don’t-a you realize what-a you saying? Your whole planet’s a-gonna be destroyed, and you sit here WASTING TIME?!?!”
    — Lord John Whorfin (John Lithgow) in “Buckaroo Banzai”

  49. Ben Lieberman says:

    President Obama deserves every possible negative email on this.

    As far as responses: How much attention do any climate rallies get compared to the ‘tea-party?’
    The Tea Party stories run in constant rotation in all media outlets from NPR to Fox. The day after the last round of 350 events you might be able to find a story if you were already interested and specifically looked. The Grassroots local activist approach should continue as part of a strategy, but does any one really think it will succeed? (I would be happy to be proven wrong.) If 10 10 events get twice as much attention as the last round of 350 events maybe it will amount to .001 percent of the attention given to the Tea Party.

    How can the United States be regarded as a great nation if it is willing to take the leading role in destroying the world’s environment without taking the lead in fighting greenhouse gas emissions?

  50. Prokaryotes says:

    Senate Democrats shelve carbon-capping legislation
    Party aims instead to hold BP accountable for oil spill, boost natural gas

    Senate Democrats reportedly are shelving legislation that would limit emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to climate change, acknowledging they don’t have the 60 votes needed for even a limited proposal to pass.

    Reid said it would include a provision to remove the cap on damages paid to residents and businesses by oil companies after spills and also include incentives for vehicles fueled by natural gas, the Journal reported.

    Dunno how accurate this is with all the news on this topic lately but – Incentives for natural gas … /facepalm

  51. Andy Olsen says:

    If we had majority rule in the US Senate, we would have already passed a good climate bill. Instead, we have an archaic system of minority rules that takes precedence over climate action.

    The next chance to change the Senate rules is on the first day of the next Congress when they pass the rules for their chambers. There has been some growth of support within the Senate to change these rules, with Barbara Mikulski recently signing on.

    But they can’t do it alone and we need to start to raise a hue and cry about the unprecedented and irresponsible abuse of minority rights. The Senate system is based on a responsible use of these rights and that day has passed.

    Want climate action? Support reform of the filibuster.

  52. Rockfish says:

    There is unfortunately no catastrophe large enough to get action on this. Let’s not forget, that while Katrina was happening, the government did nothing, after it happened (except for finger-pointing) the government did nothing, while the BP disaster unfolded, the government did essentially nothing. Once it’s over, I’ll bet, the government will do essentially nothing.
    NYC under 20 feet of water won’t change anything, because only 2 senators are from New York. The other 98 will not stick their political necks out and inconvenience their constituents over something that happened in New York. Climate change is quite simply the sort of problem that the American political system is incapable of dealing with.
    I don’t know what I’m more upset about – that the bill is finally dead or that I was stupid enough to ever let myself hope something would get done.

  53. Colorado Bob says:

    Think outside the box? First show me evidence of any thinking going on INSIDE the box.

  54. dhogaza says:

    I’d be tempted to think the EPA using its regulatory authority is a better outcome than we can hope to get legislatively no matter what the administration does but that leaves the worry that it won’t take a very large swing in the midterm elections for another legislative effort to prohibit the EPA using that authority to succeed.

    Nah, the 60 vote cloture rule cuts both ways.

    I’m not sure what people expect Obama to do. The votes aren’t there in the Senate, what good would falling on his sword do? You know that in this post-climategate world, each and every Senator voting yes that’s up for re-election is going to be hammered for “supporting science fraud”, and that the media has done absolutely nothing other than trump up that crap for months.

  55. Lore says:

    The defeat of any real climate legislation is also being echoed at the POLITICO and the folks over at WUWT are cheering its demise. Sad commentary on the state of our civilization. One can only conclude at this juncture that along with a failed policy we have condemned ourselves to also becoming a failed species.

    Democrats pull plug on climate bill:

    There is now zero chance, as the pendulum once again swings the other way in the upcoming fall elections, that congressional rules will change and along with it any meaningful cap on greenhouse gases.

    A rather poor epitaph for the human race, “defiant and ignorant to the last”.

  56. Peter Mizla says:

    This failure makes our future all the more dire-

    The price to pay in the future is unimaginable for this nation in costs and human suffering.

    The corporations in the USA have gained omnipotent powers over the last 30 years- as Dwight Eisenhower warned in 1960 the Growth of the Military-Industrial Complex was a visionary idea.

    Those tipping points now will zoom straight ahead- with CC- the worst case scenarios are now guaranteed- foolish Americans.

  57. Lewis W. says:

    What is to be lost by sending the bill that is needed and making the Repugs actually filibuster? Make the frakers stand up for a couple of weeks and argue 24 hours a day why continued dependence on foreign oil is a good thing.


  58. Mark says:

    I was so hopeful when this man became president.

    Now, only a year and a half later, the whole thing is a pile of dust.

    These people, Obama, his staff, The senators, the media are abject, miserable, stupid, catastrophic failures.

    He has utterly disgraced himself.

    He may be well on his way to out of office after one term, having accomplished very little at all.

    Good riddance.

  59. Andy Olsen says:

    “I’m not sure what people expect Obama to do.”

    How about supporting Senator Harkin’s bill to reform the filibuster? The filibuster is predicated on responsible use, which ain’t happening. It’s been reformed again and again and the time for filibuster reform is here.

  60. Prokaryotes says:

    Boxer, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Protect Clean-Energy Initiatives

  61. Eric says:

    Who knows if it matters one whit, but direct some dismay and ire at while you’re in the moment.

  62. Prokaryotes says:

    As Climate Bill Falters, Steve Schneider Might Have Counseled Optimism

  63. This is not good news for the planet. I had hoped and expected that President Obama would focus this issue with a major speech. However, according to the TPM story, the attempt to pass a modest energy bill before the August recess is accompanied by commitment to continue pursuing a more comprehensive climate/energy bill.

    The problem appears to be time. The GOPers succeeded in stringing out the legislative calendar, with Wall Street reform and the unemployment extenstion narrowly passing in just the past few days.

    It seems to me probable that the legislation that the Obama administration fought so hard to pass, and succeeded in passing in the current certifiably insane political context, will have great benefits in the short term, and as Henry Hopkins reminded FDR, people don’t eat in the long term, they eat every day. But the lack of a strong climate bill probably has the largest longterm implications, when health insurance reform, etc. will likely be irrelevant.

    Obama has seeded green energy, and that alternative may eventually make a strong climate policy less controversial. Whether with stronger commitment and leadership the U.S. Congress would have passed strong legislation is not certain. Apparently the Obama administration felt it would not, at this time. I think it is clear that a national commitment supporting it is lacking.

    This may turn out to be fateful, although nothing Congress does or doesn’t do will prevent the dire consequences of climate crisis already in the cards for the next 40 years or so. But I’m not going to rush to generalized judgment and hyperventilate in the way that we’ve learned in recent days the Internet encourages. President Obama can be judged a success or failure when he leaves office.

  64. Mark says:

    I am also amazed at the responses here to this horrifying news.

    You people are smart, some of you exceptional.

    Are you not angry?

    What does it take to evoke some anger?

  65. Leif says:

    This snipped from a lost link above.

    “The Obama Administration and the Department of Transportation are committed to delivering on what the American people are asking for. As long as I’m in this job, I promise that I’ll keep listening. So keep commenting, tweeting, and posting out there – you have my undivided attention.”

    With that in mind, is there some means of organizing a “web demonstration” without it turning into a “mud wrestle”?

    Perhaps a Memorial for the Gulf?

  66. Prokaryotes says:

    “Are you not angry?”

    I expect people will become very afraid of climate change in a not to distant future. It will just get worse and the rate of change is accelerating, though if not today i expect a comprehensive manhattan like climate bill approach …

  67. Mark says:

    Yes, these idiots can all congratulate themselves, on having preserved their amicable relations in the senate, wouldn’t want to ruffle any feather now would we, and their hallowed

    sixty vote rule.

    The planet is dying,

    but the sacrosanct “sixty votes” rule will live on.

    When we don’t have enough to eat, and our car is floating away on a wild flood, we can all feel happy, thinking about the sixty vote rule.

    They really, no matter what University they went to, no matter where they taught law, no matter how articulate they are , be

    absolute morons.

  68. Tom Servo says:

    It’s worth reflecting a minute on the repercussions of this failure.

    With no US climate bill, the Chinese have all the cover they need to abandon any attempts to restrict their own emisssions – everyone knows that they’ve wanted this way out. Who thinks the Chinese care one bit about environmental issues? Btw, who’s noticed that the Chinese have an oil spill going on right now that is getting almost up to BP level proportions? Of course they don’t like to talk about it much, and it isn’t “polite” for our Government to say anything about it, apparently.

    And with the Chinese and the US out of the picture, India certainly drops any efforts to do anything but pay lip service to the idea – they certainly never wanted to do much in this area, either.

    But it doesn’t end there – with China, India, and the US all committed to emitting with no caps whatsoever, it becomes nonsensical for Europe to hang onto any restrictions, a calculation that European governments are already making as we speak. They’re not a big enough part of the picture for the efforts to have any effect if the rest of the world ignores the issue, so why should they raise industrial costs when that will just send jobs to China? They won’t, of course.

    From the beginning, we all knew that either everyone did this or no one did. There’s no way to escape the conclusion that, thanks to this failure, efforts to cap CO2 worldwide are now going to collapse.

    And that’s why there’s no “wait till next year”. The movement didn’t just die here in the States today – it died globally.

  69. Rick Covert says:

    Mr. President, since your legacy means more to you than handing over a planet to future generations that is fit to live in I have two suggestions. First, just like you fired the head of GM, Rick Waggoner, (boy what cajones!), fire Rahm Emmanuel in like fashion. He simply doesn’t get climate change. He thinks you can negotiate with nature. Second, just like you fired the head of GM Rick Waggoner, fire David Axelrod. He too simply doesn’t get climate change. It’s like reaching the point of no return when you reach the edge of Niagara Falls. It’s too late for regrets. Finally, take charge yourself and explain to the American people what the stakes are. They are already with you. They understand the need to make changes better than your Chief of Staff Emmanuel and your advisor Axelrod. After the disgustingly callous display of arrogance by Massey in the coal mine disaster and BP in the well blow out I believe the American people are with you on switching us off of fossil fuels. They are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Are you?

  70. Jonah says:

    Hey Mark,
    I dunno… what good does it do to get angry? Will my spittle-flecked computer screen yield any kinder news? Will human beings suddenly grow some foresight if I rage hard enough?


    Most of us, I’d bet, have spent the last 5-25 years telling everyone who will listen (and 10x as many who won’t) about AGW and what it will be like if unchecked. To see this movement die in a war of attrition isn’t exactly anger-inspiring. We’re losing because of basic human failings, and you’ll have about as much luck raging against gravity as raging against human nature.

    All that said, what’s there to do but fight on? We’re still climbing the slow part of the mitigation cost curve, and will be for a long time yet (until Joe’s “climate pearl harbors” hit). This can’t be the end of anything, no more so than any of the lost opportunities which have come before were the end.

    Press on, people.

  71. MarkB says:

    “Are you not angry?”

    It’s not as if anyone here woke up today with a sudden shock. Even when Waxman/Markey passed committee, I was fairly cynical about its prospects in the Senate, needing almost unanimous support from Democrats – tough to do with the handful of coal and gulf state Democrats. And that was before there was much pressure on the administration’s agenda. Then we saw it get watered down significantly to the point where one could legitimately question whether it would have a greater effect over the next decade than existing initiatives plus EPA regulation.

    And now some words of encouragement…as I wrote on Revkin’s blog, without the 60-vote Senate requirement to get anything major done, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. This marks the first time a carbon pricing mechanism has ever had majority support in the House and very likely majority support in the Senate. Given how it challenged the powerful entrenched industries and status quo, that in and of itself is remarkable.

    The worst thing anyone can do is give up. Like global warming, political support for greenhouse gas reductions is on a long-term upward trend. It waxed and waned in the 90’s and 00’s before reaching record levels just recently.

    The collective initiatives from states over the last decade and recently federal have and will likely keep greenhouse gas emissions off the record set a few years ago. Low carbon energy solutions will continue to gain clout (albeit slowly), eventually weakening the stranglehold fossil fuels have on our economy and politics, paving the way for more comprehensive national reform. The ratio between fossil fuel lobbyist money and green industry money will continue to shrink. Worsening global warming will be a catalyst as well (not really words of encouragement on that one, but reality).

  72. Robert says:

    Anyone who has followed climate change for a few years must have realised by now that the problem is essentially insoluble within the current political framework. Politicians are elected for short periods and to represent small sections of the global population. It is never going to make electoral sense for any of them in isolation to make significant carbon cuts which, in the short term, are bound to have a negative effect on the economy.

    The only political framework that would be capable of making the changes necessary would be a global non-democratic government – something like China but on a global scale. Not too sure that anyone would go for this, but that is what would be needed. The corollary to this is that US system of democracy could not have been designed better to resist action on climate change.

    One final thought. Couldn’t we turn carbon reduction into some sort of international sport? Scrap the Olympics and replace it with a global competition where the winning nation was the one that had managed to cut it’s emissions most that year.

  73. Mike#22 says:

    Romm quotes Shakespeare writing Brutus. Damn. Now I am learning something. I wish I knew how to explain the irony.

  74. Wit'sEnd says:

    Remember the outrage on the left when Obama reneged on his promise to expose and prosecute the torturers? Why did he do that? Probably because AFTER he came into office, he found out just how bad the evidence was – so bad that revealing it in trials would incite all sorts of attacks on Americans, for which he would be blamed, and his presidency would end in impeachment.

    What do you suppose he has learned about climate change since he came into office? If anybody in the military or in the Department of Agriculture has told him the truth, he knows something everybody who reads Climate Progress knows but doesn’t like to confront – we’re already screwed. There is enough heating in the pipeline to turn the vast majority of the Earth uninhabitable through desertification and rising seas. The carbon sinks are finished, the food chain in the oceans is collapsing – so the climate bill is irrelevant – Obama’s desk is crowded with issues like climate refugees, the breakdown of civil society, violent weather events creating disasters of one sort or another, massive, widespread crop failure, and resource wars.

  75. darth says:

    I’m still hoping comment #14 is right, otherwise its very depressing.

  76. Raleigh Latham says:

    Looks like we’ve been abandoned by the government, and the ONLY change we can make is on the state level, maybe the recession will keep going thanks to the idiots in the Senate, and U.S. emissions might fall more.

    I hope to god the EPA is ready to take the reigns, if I could donate to them now I would.

    Be part of a better local movement, take over a city, and a state, and make sure it’s doing its part in ensuring human survival.

  77. Robert says:

    What do you make of articles like this:

    “Ascendance to the top spot” is clearly measured in energy consumption. You can almost hear the writer urging good US citizens to go out and burn more fossil fuel so that that the US can regain its no 1 position as top economic power. There is a brief mention of emissions, but just as a metric, not as a bad thing:

    “China is expected to surpass Japan as the world’s second largest economy later this year and is on track to become the world’s largest economy by as early as 2027. It is already the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as the vast majority of China’s voracious power needs are met by burning coal.”

    I don’t know who Andy Hoffman is but climate change is just not on his radar.

  78. llewelly says:

    The polling on the climate bill was always strong but the White House always thought it was a political loser.

    Illustrating, once again, the worst flaw of the Democratic party: their leaders believe the propaganda of their enemies.

  79. Peter Sergienko says:

    Our system is broken. The senate, an undemocratic institution to begin with, has become unacceptably undemocratic and dysfunctional given our current population distribution and the fillibuster rule. We can no longer afford to accept the senate as an institution “as is” because it has failed and is failing the American people and, indeed, all of humanity. So yes, I’m angry, but I’m mostly angry at our collective failure to fix a system that simply cannot deliver truly democratic solutions any more, not just to climate change, but to any problem that requires a federal legislative fix.

    Still looking for some light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps the lame ducks will take a real shot at saving humanity as they exit public life for the (added) riches of private life in the fall. Alternatively, those who have argued it would be better for the EPA, regions, state and local governments to regulate and otherwise take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without the compromises that comprehensive federal legislation would have entailed will get to see how that plays out.

  80. Bill Hewitt says:

    Michael (at #27) reminds us of what Joe says, but then seems to blow off: “…On the one hand, he made bigger investments in clean energy than all of his predecessors combined and put into place fuel economy standards that represent the biggest greenhouse gas reductions in US history and his EPA has declared carbon dioxide a pollutant that must be regulated because it endangers public health and he personally intervened to stop the Chinese from making Copenhagen a total failure. These are major achievements that under any other circumstances would make Obama the greenest president in US history.” On the one hand?! These measures are incalculably important – and you know it, Joe. He’s also whipping the G20 into giving up fossil fuel subsidies. $570 billion a year that helps keep ExxonMobil and the other dinosaurs further fed. He’s also moving with the Major Economies Forum to coordinate high-powered sustainability projects. He’s also funding R&D on renewables and energy efficiency as they’ve never been funded before, and bankrolling major projects.

    Maybe, just maybe, Joe, you might consider that Obama and his team have known all along that you can’t put lipstick on a pig. The US Senate is a basket case. It is the single-most undemocratic institution in any democracy in the world. Andy (at #62) points out the obvious: that we, all of us, ought to support Tom Harkin in ridding the Senate of the insane filibuster rules. Byrd-Hagel passed 95 to 0! Between the utterly reactionary Republicans and the thoroughly parochial Democrats like Rockefeller, Goodwin (with Manchin in the wings), Ben Nelson, Landrieu, Lincoln, and some others, you simply can’t get cap-and-trade out of the Senate.

    You cannot get blood out of a stone. Obama and his team know that. You should learn that – and then give this administration the credit it deserves for standing up very tall and doing the critically important things that it can do – the very things that you enumerated.

    [JR: Sorry. That might have made him a great President — if he did those things in the 1990s. But 1) he put it all on the line in Copenhagen, as he should have, to seal a deal built around the 17% pledge and 2) I believe he could have gotten a 17% deal in the Senate if he really tried starting last year. No U.S. bill = no global climate deal = failed Presidency.

    The $570 B ain’t going away. It would be a big deal if they were, yes. But one must keep one’s eyes on the prize.]

  81. Doug Gibson says:

    Well, if anything good is to come out of this, it is that another sector of the left may have its eyes opened to the fact that the filibuster has to go.

    If Obama wants to do anything – even anything effective to mitigate the scenarios described in comment 77 – he’s going to have to come out in favor of filibuster reform.

    If he doesn’t even touch that issue, then I can only assume he’s hoping to sock a few extra million away to buy a compound in the Yukon.

  82. Robert Nagle says:

    What should/will EPA do now that the climate change bill is dead?

  83. catman306 says:

    BP hires inmate labor to save money and get tax breaks:

    BP Hires Prison Labor to Clean Up Spill While Coastal Residents Struggle

  84. fj2 says:

    #78. darth, “I’m still hoping comment #14 is right . . .”

    There’s DoE Secretary Steven Chu who seems to have started giving BP marching orders to fix the gusher and this may not be so far-fetched.

    As the new president of the American Institute of Physics Professor CS Wu of Columbia made the first trip to China on behalf of AIP in the late 1970s. As one of this country’s top experimentalists she probably should have gotten the Nobel Prize for non-conservation of parity along with TD Lee and Yang both also of Columbia.

    In any case, China has nothing to gain working counter to all-hands-on-deck efforts mitigating rapidly accelerating global environmental devastation and everything to gain as its people are most at risk of any country capable of changing our suicidal course of business-as-usual.

    And, there are likely other things that the president can do not requiring a Senate super-majority; but, Joe Romm and Rolling Stone are justified holding his feet to the fire, as we all should be.

  85. Lore says:

    #77 Wit’sEnd

    I have to agree here. When Obama came to office I’m sure he was presented with a list of the facts beyond the secret codes, Area 51, where Jimmy Hoffa was really buried and other such assumed conspiracy nonsense.

    In the case of climate change it may be just a matter of triage. Was the real truth finally exposed, that it’s beyond any one nation’s ability to control climate change. That we are in reality past the point of no return? That we may have just simply run out of time? After all he has all the best information and the brightest minds on the planet to present it to him. If so, it makes sense, why expend the effort at the sacrifice to solutions for other short term programs and problems that will make people feel good and have the possibility to be realized.

  86. Wit'sEnd says:

    Thanks Lore. I think above all he and those privy in his administration have as top priority – avert panic, or at least avoid it for as long as possible. Plain talk and the unvarnished truth could quickly lead to hysteria. The same is true for the economy. Our capitalistic system is unsustainable, no matter how much bank reform is legislated, but it would be political suicide to say so.

    The best case is that after one or two Pearl Harbor events, people go through the huge emotional discombobulations that accompany climate enlightenment – and still have enough trust in Obama to take the drastic steps necessary to salvage some semblance of civilization – that is going to include draconian rationing of water, fuel, food and some very restrictive emergency limits on the kind of freedoms we are used to.

  87. Prokaryotes says:

    “We hold the Future of the World in our Hands … and build a new World – Generations in the years ahead will look back and thank us.”

  88. dhogaza says:

    Andy Olsen:

    “How about supporting Senator Harkin’s bill to reform the filibuster? The filibuster is predicated on responsible use, which ain’t happening. It’s been reformed again and again and the time for filibuster reform is here.”

    Presidents have fought the Senate over its power in the past, and have got nowhere fast, for the most part.

    The problem with the President supporting the bill is that he’ll be fighting against many Senators of his own party as well as Republicans. That kind of intra-party strife isn’t likely to be useful in November.

    I would hope that quietly, behind the scenes, he does support this, but vocal, public support will just be represented as being a Presidential power grab by a many within the Senate.

  89. Green Patriot says:


    Have you seen the end of the Stars Wars episode 3, where Annikan becomes Darth Vader and Yoda goes into solitude? I feel that way right now, but believe me, there will be another day. The planet may be in worse shape, but the fight will continue. There will be candidates who will run for office that execute on the policies they campaign on, unlike Obama. Believe me, we will live to fight another day.

  90. Oliver James says:

    I’ve gotten angry, and I got over it, although it’s hard. As painful as this is, we can’t afford to be pessimistic.

    We have to fight for progress here, and they system is screwed – so the way forward CAN BE piecemeal, WCI, RGGI, Home star, RES, and others. We can get things done at the state level. There can be *some* federal progress. We need to support the EPA on the grassroots and grasstops levels. We can turn out to vote, and I think it’s possible that the coal industry will want a carbon price and its goodies by the end of the decade.

  91. dhogaza says:

    The filibuster is predicated on responsible use

    BTW “filibuster” is derived from the spanish word for “pirate”. When it was coined in the 1800s, no one thought of pirates being responsible, honorable, law-abiding, etc … it was always viewed as a way to, in essence, steal the result of a vote on a bill.

  92. From Peru says:

    Breaking News:

    Tropical Storm BONNIE go straight to Lousiana and the oil spill…

    … it has a path alike Katrina…

  93. Prokaryotes says:

    The time has come for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future, and I will work with anyone from either party to get this done.

  94. Prokaryotes says:

    Sigh, that wasn’t from today.

  95. Kevin says:

    I agree that the failure was largely due to the anti-science crowd, funded primarily by a few oil cos (Koch and a few others in particular), but it is also due to the ineptitude of the proponents, who were split as to whether the legislation offered was adequate. Here in the Mid-west, activists were more aligned with Friends of the Earth than they were with EDF — so you have the Tea Party shouting “NO!” and the enviromentalists shouting “NO!” Meanwhile, is planning worthless Oct rallies and climateworks is producing pretty ads to run on the internet that get a few thousand views, oh, and a Twitter campaign that no one has heard of. Nice! Even previously moderate Rs are running TV ads against cap and trade in their primaries. Why do we think any D would stick their neck out for this against that back drop? We can blame the administration for not knocking heads in the party and for not fighting back against stupid charges from the right, but from here it didn’t look like they were getting much competent help from the outside.

  96. Doug Gibson says:


    The problem, though, is what is meant by “make him do it”. Many on the left think that it’s precisely by opposing policies for not going far enough that we can force the window of possibility a little farther from the status quo.

    The alternative seems to be to hew the administration’s line, but to do so as loudly and boldly as possible. But if that’s the strategy, then the administration is going to have to draw that line a little farther to the right side as well. What we’ve gotten so far has been pre-compromised legislation like the stimulus, or, worse, transparent (and therefore worthless) bargaining chips like the public option.

    Maybe there’s some middle ground somewhere, but why is it up to the outsiders to find it?

  97. Pythagoras says:

    The results should not be surprising given the inherent conservatism of the United States Senate. Inevitably, national political action on any issue cannot occur unless there has been action of substance that has first occurred at the state level. Unfortunately, those who favor action have misplaced their efforts relying instead on wishful thinking that a national policy would be enacted.

    In Washington State in 2009, the state legislator — both House and Senate — had passed bills authorizing the state to join the Western Climate Initiative. During final days of the legislature, the Democratic leadership refused to bring the reconciliation bill to a final vote.

    As reported:
    “HB 1819/SB 5735 Cap and Invest—this session’s cap and invest bill died at the closing bell, though much of the important substance (especially authorizing the state to participate in the Western Climate Initiative) had been stripped out of the bill weeks earlier. As a result of failing to join a regional cap-and-trade program, Washington is left with statutory commitments to reach certain emissions targets but no clear way to achieve its targets.”

    This occurred in a Democratic controlled state legislature with a very motivated and committed Democratic governor, Chris Gregoire. Part of the reason for the failure of the bill was the intransigence of Democratic leadership who were unwilling to compromise on the mechanism to price carbon (Coming at a time when capital markets were failing, they were not willing to support a bill that relied upon a “cap-and-trade” system.) Part of the reason was the perception that any “tax” would jeopardize the seats of a few Democratic legislators in swing districts. And lastly, part of the reason was there was pending a national system to pricing carbon.

    So if it is not possible to price carbon in a politically safe state, why did we think that we’d get meaningful action at the national level?

    So in the end though, we have now found out that without a very broad mandate from the states that there is no political will to move forward on pricing carbon.

    So I would strongly recommend that we refocus efforts on state legislators to get the states in the leadership position again. Let’s get a few wins going forward in promoting green jobs and phasing out coal. The Constitution was framed to keep power in the states. We should use that power to promote the needed changes on climate policy.

  98. Kate says:

    “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. “And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”–Mark 4:37-40

  99. fftf says:

    We’re done goofed. Consequences will never be the same.

  100. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, most of us watching all this probably had a feeling this was coming (I certainly did), but this is – I can’t say how bad this is – this was our (the U.S.’s) shot for this decade (more than likely).

    Until the stars align again and we get a Democratic President, majorities in both houses (not likely for another decade or more) we’re not going to get another chance (and only a chance, that might fail like this one) at this and that isn’t likely for a long a time.

    Its amazing to watch our political leaders flush our long term future down the drain like they did over the last two years – we didn’t even get to put the Chinese on the spot, our President walked out of the game before the 1st quarter was over – and now everyone can blame the US for not doing anything since what they do won’t matter in the end (the Chinese must be ecstatic, we just gave them cover for the next decade or two to burn every coal seam and every tar sand they can get to).

    The forces of greed, avarice and lies have won the day.

  101. BobSmith says:

    I could write an essay in response to this, but I simply don’t have the time. Obama has to wear many faces, and bring people together, therefore, I think it’s important that he retain his calm demeanor: he has to be the president for the businessman, the soccer mom, and the environmentalist. That said, we have went from people completely ignoring any mention of global warming or the many things associated with it, to the same people seeing the most respectable person in the country now telling us it IS a problem, and it MUST be addressed.

    On another note, LeBron James went to Miami just after saying he was going somewhere else.

  102. Galactus says:

    You gonna eat that?

  103. johna says:

    My two democratic U.S. Senators can waive bye-bye to my vote. They’ll go to the Green Party.

  104. Ryan T says:

    Wit’sEnd, if that were the case you’d think they’d at least be pushing harder for geo-engineering tests. The reality remains that the more fossil CO2 we accumulate, the more the process will accelerate and the more the oceans will acidify. So not pushing hard for cap & trade and funneling the revenue into rebates and incentives doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe we need to restart by re-branding this thing “cap & invest” or something, I dunno.

  105. Mick says:

    Do these polls that you keep referring to really measure how deeply the public supports action on global warming, and how much pain they are really willing to accept in support of those goals?

    The question: “Do you support limits on carbon emissions even if it means higher energy prices?” strikes me as vague enough that many people will answer yes just because it is the PC thing to do. Phrase that as: “Do you support carbon emission limits if it means $10/gallon gasoline and heating oil?” and you might get a different response. Likewise, if you phrase it as “Do you support carbon emissions if if increases the chance that you might lose your job?”, I’d expect support to fall off rapidly.

    Before health care reform passed, I’m sure it would have been easy to cobble together a poll showing that most of the public supported Health Care Reform. It is easy to get a YES to that kind of question, as long as the consequences and costs are vague, and the question implies a chance to improve things. Support for health care reform has fallen because people can now see potential consequences and costs; it is no longer an offer of a free lunch….

  106. Robert Nagle says:

    Here’s a piece I dashed off in response to my frustration. (no science there, just rants by a nonexpert).

    The problem is that the EPA rules are going to be viewed as unilaterally applied and arbitrary. Obama will definitely feel the political fallout from taking such unilateral action. Best case scenario would be for the EPA rules to be announced in November to take effect 6 months later. (That would give 6 months for energy lobbyists and Republicans to rediscover the art of compromise).

    Dave Roberts has a great analysis on grist:

    Big Coal will be back begging for cap-and-trade. No, really. Right now there are EPA rules in the pipeline that are going to shut down a third or more of the existing coal fleet. No new coal plants are going to get built — they’re not cost-competitive with natural gas or wind, and every one runs into a buzzsaw of grassroots opposition. In other words, carbon caps or no carbon caps, Big Coal is in trouble. Sooner or later, the industry will realize that the funding it can get from cap-and-trade, to support carbon capture and sequestration, is its only path to survival. Robert Byrd tried to tell the industry the truth before he died. Byron Dorgan tried to tell it the truth just the other day. By 2012, certainly by 2015 when many of the rules kick in, the industry will be forced to acknowledge this basic truth. And they’ll come begging Congress for cap-and-trade.

  107. Eric says:

    Wit’sEnd, #77 … well that’s depressing. I guess I prefer to stay in denial of that outcome, maybe as much as the deniers deny any problem at all.

    Seems to me that if things were -that- dire, we’d have some climatologists saying so. Joe’s “uncharacteristically blunt” ones, you know.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think we’re in trouble, but I still cling to hope that it’s trouble we can survive in some form.

  108. Bill Waterhouse says:

    It’s not dead, it’s just resting, pining for the fjords.

    Seriously, let’s get a grip on reality here. Obama isn’t half way through his first term. It looks like we are going to have the warmest year ever recorded and there is a high probability of very low and maybe record low arctic sea ice this September. Some of the MSM media seems to be waking up to this reality – at least there are stirrings in the major newspapers. As the warming becomes more evident this summer we should get more MSM coverage and growing public awareness. So I’m not giving up on Obama or the Senate yet.

  109. Wit'sEnd says:

    RyanT, google geo-engineering and you will get really scared! There are many serious, respectable scientists in desperation mode who are advocating exactly that.

  110. Eric says:

    Wit’sEnd, OTOH, watch Saul Griffith’s “Recalculating Climate Change”

    ( )

    and see the scope of what must be done … maybe we should just enjoy a nicd merlot on the porch while it lasts.

  111. already melted says:

    Mostly…I think the problem is confidence. JFK was a great speaker. Hitler could ramble on and on. I drank yankee coffee and went 10 for 12 and turned a ground out into a single bloodily. This democrat incrementalism is as boring as 1st 7 innings of a game. Yes it deprograms some that maybe an efficient gov (not all are 18th century England) can be better than an inefficient company (cancer an obvious inefficiency)…and you can look out for pitfalls cheaply like those born-to-be-bankster thieving Manilans…
    If Senate Democrats spoke like JFK and Hitler, they would go across the floor and just shake the GOP like a crying baby or a toddler left in a corporate Auzzie daycare who won’t shutup. Bullets wouldn’t subdue them, and when coal bitches mumble something about free market, they’d yell: A CARBON TAX IS FREE MARKET U #$^%^ ^%^#$ $%%!!!! Gov productivity would increase, no more legislation piling up…except for the expensive mandatory decades in prison and loss of social fabric upon release, things would be great. AGW doesn’t break for the summer. It keeps coming and coming until civilization ends, you starve, and a marauding gang gut shoots you. The point is: you are alive when they start to eat you.

  112. Lisa says:

    Doesn’t EPA ruling have more of an impact than the climate bill anyways?

  113. bill says:

    One name should act as a dire warning for Barack Obama – Kevin Rudd.

    Australia’s former PM was riding on unprecedented – literally – poll approval late last year, and the hopes of millions were pinned to real action stemming from his proclamation that Climate Change is “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.

    Then he decided he couldn’t get a climate bill through our Senate. Shoved it all on the backburner until 2013!

    Given that so many of the rest of his policies had turned out to be virtually indistinguishable from the [lamentably reactionary] previous government’s the public literally stopped listening to him. No politician can survive complete public skepticism of all his or her claims. Rudd didn’t.

    A few months later and he was overthrown in an internal coup when it became evident that in all likelihood he’d manage to lose the next election; this is virtually unheard of in an electorate like Australia where the public usually gives a government at least 2 terms, if only to reassure themselves that they got it right the first time!

    Now we have our first female PM. That’s great, but the internal conflicts and lack of real vision – beyond giving us ‘Business as Usual Lite’ – that hamper this so-called ‘progressive’ party have not gone away.

    Obama is in similar danger of having the people who voted for him simply sink into apathy, despair and cynicism. And, to add insult to injury, in Australia as in the US, the party poised to seize power is very scary indeed…

  114. Andy Heninger says:

    Obama is proving to be overly cautious and far too wary of really shaking things up. He’s certainly had some substantial accomplishments, but they’re so much less than they could have been if he had shown a bit more natural instinct for leading, for rousing people up and making things happen.

    It’s not just climate and energy. Look at things he could have done, if he’d had the nerve. Close Guantanamo? He could have simply ordered it done. He has the authority. We have no shortage of prisons. Just do it, and deal with the fallout afterwards. Don’t accept excuses.

    End don’t ask, don’t tell? Look at Truman and the integration of the military – you don’t need everyone’s buy in and every detail preplanned (it’ll never happen), just order it done.

    Compared with global warming and transitioning off of fossil fuels these are minor and fleeting issues, but they do seem to illustrate Obama’s leadership style. He needs to take some lessons from Teddy Roosevelt.

  115. Laphroaig says:

    Hey, don’t worry so much. Next year, we’ll have a few more Republicans in congress to help implement “Greek-style” austerity measures. The U.S. economy will go back in the tank (along with much of the rest of the world), reducing CO2 emissions in the process. And you thought they didn’t care.

  116. Bob Wallace says:

    Come on Joe. After only a year and a half in office Barrack Obama has failed?

    You’re disappointed, we’re all disappointed, that we don’t have a good climate bill passed and signed.

    But failed? We aren’t at the end of Obama’s first term. We aren’t even at the end of this Congressional session.

    It’s likely that no “perfect” bill will be passed. There’s just not enough “people-first” senators caucusing with the Democrats. It’s more likely that things will get done one small step at a time. And if you’ll be fair to President Obama you’ll acknowledge that he’s made some nice small steps even without that magical “energy bill”.

  117. Paulm says:

    Hey, the bill was pretty useless anyway. Let look on the bright side…it makes possible for some thing more dramatic and necessary to happen sooner…

  118. Ryan T says:

    Let’s just hope that EPA action on fossil carbon, if their authority is preserved, is enough to convince nations like China and India that it’s time to spur an international agreement. Part of this problem is that fossil energy still has an artificial cost advantage. If it stays relatively cheap overseas, the U.S. might have a hard time regaining much of a manufacturing foothold, even for energy technologies and things like hybrid/electric cars. Unless we’re going to go all out and apply carbon tariffs to non-compliant foreign goods. How likely is that?

  119. Roger says:

    As others have said, we seem to be headed south, in more ways than one. A reasonable question would be, “How can this be happening to the US, as the former ‘leader of the free world’?”

    A postmortem investigating bad outcomes often shows that there were multiple system failures. This is most certainly what we have happening in the US with climate change.

    Our system failures are too numerous to mention here, but here are my top three: 1) Gov’t failure to adequately notify citizens of a threat, 2) Allowing short-term-focused business interests to have excessive influence, and 3) Loss of an independent press.

    Throw into the mix the fact that we humans only seem to learn things effectively through experience—and the fact that most of our systems are experience based. Can it be any surprise that we struggle so much in solving a problem that hasn’t hit us before?

    Come join our “White House Work Party” at 10AM on October 10th. We’ll be asking President Obama to become a better leader. More information, plus a petition encouraging Obama to get the word out, and lead on climate, can be found at Remember, it’s not over until the fat lady sings!


  120. Fredo says:

    @ already melted 114:

    Best. Post. Evah!

  121. fj2 says:

    We’ve been through these low points before with the president.

    Lots of big industries and others in power in this country have to know how bad it will be should the accelerating environmental devastation not be slowed and the United States is no longer top dog and the go-to place to create the future.

    They knew they could not afford another loser like the prior administration and they still know it now.

    We are in an era of dramatic change and it is going to be a wild ride.

  122. hapa says:

    what a conundrum. the needed scale of change requires a legal course to drive (and soften the impact of) the shift, while existing players — knowing the change is coming — can’t stand giving up the power they have under current law — maybe thinking as long as they’re in the cockpit today, they can solve having to bail out w/o a parachute tomorrow by acquiring the right green startups, or something. they might as well be telling us the fed can draw carbon from the air w/ the right interest rate policy. “there’s a reason his name was GREENspan.…”

    it’s not just obama. this hollowed-out executive branch can’t do the job.

  123. Mom says:

    Roger: “…Remember, it’s not over until the fat lady sings!…”

    You should be ashamed of yourself. I’m a BIG lady and I resent that remark. If you can’t shoulder your disappointments without pouring scorn and insults on others, then I suggest you switch off your computer and go sob in a dark corner.

  124. Peter Mizla says:

    We live in fascinating but deadly times

    the 21st Century will not be for the faint hearted-

  125. _Flin_ says:

    Concerning the “and the rest of the world” part:
    The USA is the only country of relevance constantly sabotaging all efforts to tackle climate change. While being the greatest polluter of all for a long time, no action at all has ever been taken to tackle the problem. Starting with Kyoto. While China pollutes even more now, they exceed the USA in regards to production of Energy from renewable energy sources not only in absolute numbers but also in percentage of their overall energy production.
    Furthermore China invests twice the amount of money into renewable energy than the USA.
    So while they don’t do enough at all, even they surpass the USA in their efforts.

    The whole world has to pay for the hideous politics of greedy crooks that is dominating the US system and media, with loud declarations about “freedom” and “patriotism”, while indeed all that means when translated into actions is “irresponsibility”, “nationalistic despise for everything and everyone who is not American” and “ruthlessly exploiting everyone else”.

    Climate Change, the financial crisis and the gulf war based on flat out lies are just three examples of the contempt that the USA shows against the rest of the world.

    And you will all pay dearly for that and already do. Not because of other people. But because these politics lead to the demise of the USA. With owing China large portions of your GDP, with Dust Bowls in the southwest, with hurricanes, oil slick on the shores, flooding in Tennessee, people having to sell their homes, unemployment, taking your own freedoms away with things like the PATRIOT ACT or the supposedly free press brownnosing the government.

    While anyone else in the world probably couldn’t care less about another Empire selfdestructing because of being just to full of itself, the sad part is that this time it is taking the rest of humanity with it.

  126. _Flin_ says:

    Oh, and before I forget it… Even China starts regulating it’s CO2 emissions.

    So it is not the rest of the failing to tackle climate change. Maybe the rest of the world fails. But America isn’t even trying.

  127. Peter Mizla says:

    The USA has slipped deep into fascism – that is the primary reason that we are in this situation. We have become a ‘corporate state’ which scapegoats ‘enemies’ of the state—-liberals, immigrants etc-21st Century American fascism fits the classic definition

    Neo-fascism is a post-World War II ideology that includes significant elements of fascism. The term neo-fascist may apply to other extremist right wing groups (Skin heads, KKK, John Birch Society-Tea Party). Neo-fascism usually includes nationalism, anti-immigration policies or, where relevant, nativism, anti-communism, and opposition to the parliamentary system and liberal democracy. Allegations that a group is neo-fascist may be hotly contested, especially if the term is used as a political epithet.

    Neo-fascist movements are more straight-forwardly right-wing than the pre-WWII movements, and have become intertwined with the radical right.

    As Flin #126 &127 has so eloquently extrapolated on the decline and fall of the American system …………

  128. Preston Wright says:

    color me not surprised…

    and disgusted.

  129. Lewis W. says:

    I’m angry.

    I want the Democrats to send a bill with real teeth that has a real chance of saving our collective ass and make the Repugs filibuster. Don’t just give it to them. Fight these bullies in the GOBP.

    Call them out and show them to be obstinate lying corporate shills who want to hand the future of our great nation to the communists in China. Sack up and fight these guys, clean or dirty and break their filibuster. FIGHT THEM!!!

  130. Mark says:

    I did not know that there has been a great deal of study of “leadership”:

    Article in Wikipedia:

    1. “Leadership is stated as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.”

    2. Alan Keith stated that, “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.

    3. Tom DeMarco says that leadership needs to be distinguished from posturing.”

    Pretty clear now, which one of these applies to Obama. In spades.

  131. Lore says:

    Quote: Mick #108

    “The question: “Do you support limits on carbon emissions even if it means higher energy prices?” strikes me as vague enough that many people will answer yes just because it is the PC thing to do. Phrase that as: “Do you support carbon emission limits if it means $10/gallon gasoline and heating oil?” and you might get a different response. Likewise, if you phrase it as “Do you support carbon emissions if if increases the chance that you might lose your job?”, I’d expect support to fall off rapidly.”

    The problem here is you can’t offer a negative without substituting a positive with it.

    You may not be willing to pay $10 for a gallon of gas, but offer incentives to purchase an electric vehicle as an alternative that will cost only 5 cents a mile and you would get more agreement. A cap on carbon may mean you loose your present job, but if I have another job waiting for you to transition into that would change things. Specially since most jobs today seem only to be temporary anyway.

    Better yet, maybe an assessment of our present values is in order. Does prosperity mean the accumulation of more worthless things, or should it be the improvement of body, mind and spirit? Maybe we need to concentrate on becoming better human beings first. Only with the latter can we pass the test of our time and move onto the next level of human evolution.

  132. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Even with the climate bill being officially dumped, there is still no serious discussion of just why Obama has chosen not to act in its support. Not even in the easiest of necessary fields, such as public education, refutation of denialism, exposure of corrupt delialist funding, protection of scientists from political attack, et cetera.

    The opportunity to act was a unique one when Obama took office – burgeoning evidence that IPCC AR4 had badly understated the threat, particularly in terms of the feedbacks,
    plus a strong national and international support as a rebound from the corrupt callous corporatism of the Bush years,
    plus serious openings for constructive climate negotiations as agreed at Bali, with potential to satisfy the Byrd-Hagel resolution requiring all nations’ participation in any emissions-reduction treaty that the US signs.

    Obama did nothing. To the extent of not giving the public more than one sentence per month on climate during his first 14 months in office. In fact he adopted Bush’s climate policy including the reneging on the US signature of the UN mandate with its 1990 baseline. The use of Bush’s unilateral baseline of 2005 is still the norm across US sites and discussions.

    Then came the BP disaster. An unprecedented benign backdrop for advancing environmental-protection legislation specifically relating to fossil fuels. Obama gave a much-hyped address to the nation, in which climate got one mention, as part of the bill’s title, and no focus whatsoever.

    Since then, his studied inaction has continued, despite every possible pressure both public and private, national and foreign, as the bill has died.

    The assumptions in the posts above of his reasons for inaction on climate seem downright feeble. The idea that “He just doesn’t get it” is plainly utter nonsense. He is a law professor, i.e. exceptionally skilled in sifting evidence and identifying the reality, who is directly informed not only by Chu and Holdren as very senior scientists, but also by the the joint cheifs of the armed forces, as well as by every visiting head of state, and many others.

    The assumption that “he doesn’t act on climate because it might cost him support” is simply ludicrous. His failure to act has already tarnished his government, has encouraged the GOP to escalate its efforts, and has greatly diminished the critical activist support for democratic candidates. In 17 months he’s gone from a shoe-in for a second term to an even chance of not standing for re-election.

    The assumption that “Other issues took precedence” is a distraction which is plainly refuted not only by his being highly informed of the paramount gravity of the climate threat, but also by his failure even to begin the necessary preparations for action on climate, such as public education.

    All three assumptions ignore the reality that from the outset of his presidency Obama took on the Bush policy of choosing to take no action on climate in a “Brinkmanship of Inaction” with China, as positively evidenced by the official continuance of the unilateral 2005 baseline as well as by various other factors.

    With America’s track record in international affairs (Vietnam, Law of the Sea, WTO, Gulf War, World Court, Kyoto, Iraq, etc) it seems bizarre that Americans would assume that US foreign policy is either reliably honest, appropriate or effective, yet this is the assumption underlying the lack of enquiry into any non-domestic reason for Obama’s inaction on climate. It seems tragic that even on a site like Climate Progress this myopia predominates, and there has been little or not discussion of how foreign policy has covertly dominated domestic political action.

    The utterly reckless policy of brinkmanship with China, a poker-game with the lives of millions as the smallest chips, is the core of the problem of US inaction, and has been for many years. With the feedbacks accelerating by the month, and with no proven record of the albido-enhancement technologies’ efficacy or practicability, there is no longer any national justification for that policy. An accomodation with China has to be found ASAP, not least because, from here onwards China’s economic strength indicates a relative decline of US bargaining power.

    So when will Obama be called out on his support for Bush’s reckless policy of Brinkmanship ? Or shall we just go through the motions of voicing our disappointment in his conduct, but not actually care enough to start thinking outside the box of comfortable assumptions ?



  133. Tony says:

    I’m not so sure it’s a bad thing this particular bill is dead. Sure, it’s easy to say “we have to start somewhere”, but if that “somewhere” happens to be 100 miles BACKWARDS down the road, I’m not sure that particular somewhere is where I’d like to start. Here’s a “Whistleblower Disclosure” from two long-time EPA attorneys on the “unfixable” nature of offsets, and how they’d set back all efforts on climate change mitigation for 20 years:

    Having said that, it’s clear that Obama will be viewed as one of our nation’s worst Presidents for his failure to give a damn about ACC. I say that as someone who not only voted for him, but volunteered, during the general AND the primary.

  134. Anonymous says:

    The Climate Bill that would not have done anything about the Climate is dead. How is this a bad thing?

  135. Peter Mizla says:


    it was merely symbolic- a start- now there is zero progress- the worst case scenarios are right on track—

  136. Andy Velwest says:

    The failure in leadership rests with the American people as a whole. Our government doesn’t lead us, it represents us. But long ago we relinquished our responsibility to give thoughtful consideration to the issues of the day, and act on our beliefs.

    Instead we stay in our comfort zone, grumbling about our lack of influence, but subconsciously grateful that someone else is making the big decisions.

    There are many caring, thoughtful people that read Joe Romm’s blog. Each of us must make connections with those around us and convince them to take action. Our country’s future is at stake, our children’s future is at stake, our planet’s capability to sustain human life is at stake.

    Me? I’m working with and their Fight Washington Corruption campaign. But I don’t care what you do, or even what side of the debate you are on. As long as each of us spends time and brings well considered solutions to the table, and fights for our right to influence policy, then our country, our children, our world will prosper.

  137. We’ll know if the thrust of the Rolling Stone article is correct when we find out what EPA is willing to do with its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Simply by cracking down on conventional air pollution from many old dirty existing coal plants will make many of those plants uneconomic, even without a carbon cap. And that’s something EPA is well within its authority to do. So we’ll just have to see…

  138. Sasparilla says:

    “Doesn’t EPA ruling have more of an impact than the climate bill anyways?”

    Lisa, for the first years (maybe a decade) it would. But….how long do you think it will take the Republicans to revoke the EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 after they get back into power? (That authority was going to be given away in the current democratically sponsored bill that is dead) Do you think that will happen before we have Dems back in power in both houses and the Presidency (it would seem more likely).

    All you people advocating eliminating (or reducing the requirements) of the filibuster rule – keep in mind, it’ll cut both ways – get rid of that filibuster and give Republicans bare majorities in the house / senate and a President (Palin?) and that’s the end of EPA (and state) authority over CO2 regulation. The EPA authority should only be viewed as a temporary measure – as the big Republican donors want it killed and will get that when they have their power back (which will come as sure as the tide).

    As someone else said, those people advocating just the EPA route will get to see how that plays out.

    Make no mistake folks, we didn’t have time to mess around not getting the job done (our previous administrations used up all that) – our President just firmly moved the CO2 lever to the path of 1000ppm + as a more likely outcome, by putting off this issue and then not even trying when he could have.

    As peak oil impacts and climate impacts are felt in the near to mid future, it will get harder to restrict CO2 emissions politically as those effects will strangle economies and intensify divisions between countries over resources (and nobody will want off cheap coal and will be looking for anything to cover oil – i.e. coal gasification will be cheap for some countries).

    Onward past 450ppm – which we were heading towards doing anyways – and on to find out where the tipping points lurk. As the old maps used to say – beyond this point “there be dragons” and we’re on the path to go find some. Seems like we’re going to be needing those nut jobs with their Geo-Engineering schemes (besides the CO2 geo-engineering we’re doing already). Sorry for the length, it felt good to say my peace.

  139. john atcheson says:

    If Obama let’s this turkey die, then resurrects a real bill after the election, then he might yet salvage a victory. I don’t mourn the death of this nothing burger of a bill at all.

    But that would required courage, leadership, and the willingness to lead, rather than steering his presidency by the capricious winds of the latest poll.

    I see no sign of that.

    So, unless he surprises us, I must agree with Joe — this marks Obama as a failure. But far worse than that, it dooms the planet to catastrophe. In the end, the rating of Obama is irrelevant. What matters is that humans destroyed their own habitat.

    [JR: Snap out of it folks. Obama didn’t walk away from the bill because he thought it was too weak.]

  140. frank says:

    Should we petition Al Gore to return to US politics?

    More than ever, the world needs someone at the helm of the US who understands the threat of climate change to humanity, and who is willing to work actively to counter this threat. Why not Al Gore?

    (Never mind all his determined detractors; they can all go to hell.)


  141. John McCormick says:

    RE # 140

    Sasparilla, I usually pay attention to your comments and this is about the most direct and honest summation of where we find ourselves this day.

    Yes, a lame duck session might give us a lame chance to do something about carbon but the results of the election will tell us more about how long any victory will last in the next Congress. We are a chaoic people here in America; afraid for the future and unwilling to do anything about it. The Palenistas have their answer but we Obama supporters are hanging by a thread.

    Maybe the White House has some top secret negotiations underway with China to start the mitigation ball rolling. Likely not.

    Time is our enemy and as things begin to unravel as oil availability becomes the next great concern, pressure to develop US oil shale, coal and tar sands will sweep over what is left of the environmental front guard.

    There are respected voices out there in America who have nothing to lose by joining our cause but they are not in our camp. Bob Dole, Warren Buffett, Larry King, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright are some of the names I would like to hear from.

    The reason environmentalists have come to own the climate change debate and will live with the failure to accomplish anything is that no other interests really care; not Archer Daniels, the truckers, airline companies; automakers who all stand to suffer mightily as the foundation begins to crumble around their empires.

    How about our enviro leaders spending some quality time with America’s elite corps of outstanding and silent public figures and challenge them to step up and take a stand, if only to assure their heirs have a chance to enjoy their inheritance.

    We foot soldiers have no chance of turning this ship around because we are not of the Bilderberg clan. Maybe some of them are and damn it they have skin in this game even if they have never lent a hand to us common folk.

    Finally, no one can mention the word geoengineering without including ocean acidification in the sentence.

    John McCormick

  142. Kevin says:

    To those who claim this bill was too weak — I agree with JR and I’d add: If you couldn’t deliver the votes or put enough pressure on congress to get this passed over the objections of those who claimed it was too strong, why should we believe that you’d have the political muscle to put it over the line if only it were stronger? You imply that if it were stronger, you’d have supported it more vigorously and that would have made all the difference and it would have passed. It is fun to blame this on big oil (I’d blame small oil) and corrupt pols, because that gets us off the hook. Tea Party pos’n — compromise is bad and we demand it all — those who compromise are evil and have probably been bought off and should be voted out. Looks familiar.

  143. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    John at 145 –

    “Finally, no one can mention the word geoengineering without including ocean acidification in the sentence.”

    Entirely agreed in principle. There is no point whatsoever in albido restoration without simultaneous carbon recovery, since ocean acidification could doom the planet all by itself.

    That said, there is equally no point in albido restoration to control planetary temperature while carbon recovery takes effect unless there is a simultaneous rapid phasing out of greenhouse gas emissions – as continued emissions would postpone the date at which the interactive feedbacks start to decelerate to a safe level, and we do not know what momentum they already have to get to the point of running amok.

    In practice, getting ocean acidification into each sentence looks problematic. How about “often enough to give it due attention” ?



  144. jim says:

    This is why liberals lose — even when you believe that literally the world is coming to an end, that millions will die, the earth will be scorched, cats & dogs living together — what do you discuss?

    Not shutting down Congress, shutting down the economy, taking serious action. No, you discuss practical and moderate legislative tactics.

    If MLK had taken this approach, we would still be discussing arcane Senatorial rules that may allow us somewhere in the 22nd century to consider passing full suffrage. Rosa Parks would still be in the back of the bus (even if, by this point, it wouldn’t be terribly sweet smelling), and the Hoover National Monument would be under construction.

    Seriously, expecting legislative action against entrenched powers without any massive disruption of the economic and social life of the country is ridiculous.

    Sure, the folks who are profiting in the trillions from current conditions are just going to turn that money over because you have cleverly organized position papers and quietly lobbied the White House. Sure.

    Sure, Obama is going to take on some of the most powerful interest on the planet because “he knows the truth”, because “it’s the right thing to do”, even because it could be “politically helpful”.

    Right. Folks get to high political position by having morals and courage. Sure. Good luck with that one. This goes right up with protest songs and lobbying your school board in terms of self-delusion.

  145. Prokaryotes says:

    Post #149
    I guess it is because you just show off your ignorance and the same over debunked manipulative and orchestrated comments from dirty oil campaigners.

  146. Ryan T says:

    You mean vs. the rebellious child personality, Marcus? It seems that many of the contrarians are ultra-libertarian types who want to do whatever they damn well please and make as much money as they possibly can regardless of the costs to others. Many of the rest seem to conveniently believe humans are being coddled with a constantly constantly fine-tuned Earth rather than benefiting from a quasi-equilibrium that can be disrupted by mass irresponsibility.

  147. Robin Datta says:

    The title is on the mark. However, resource depletion, most notably petroleum, will loom as a concern before Climate Change, although we are indeed close to the end of the current interglacial period.

  148. Paul Craig says:

    Very insightful. It is ironic to hear global warming activists complain about the unscientific aurguments of the deniers after over 30 years of listening to the junk science they used to kill nuclear energy in this country. In the end it will not matter. Carbon emmissions into the atmosphere will end when the last bit of fossile fuel is burned and no sooner. The Earth will return to the climate that prevailed before carbon sequestration began with plant growth.

  149. homunq says:

    I’m encouraged to see that filibuster reform is a part of this discussion. It’s necessary.

    I see two anti-reform arguments. Lewis W (#60 and #132) says “make them filibuster” – ie, use the existing rules in a different way. He should study the actual rules; unfortunately, despite “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”, it doesn’t actually work that way. In the classic filibusters civil rights era, the anti-civil-rights minority wanted to make a scene; but if today’s Republicans want to keep the filibuster out of the limelight, the only high-profile option is essentially a sit-in strike by Democrats, and while I’d find that cathartic, I doubt it would even help.

    Sasparilla (#142) says that we might need the filibuster later. Which would be fine, except that today’s take-no-prisoners Republicans would not let it stand in their way. It’s either invoke the constitutional option now to reform the filibuster (because the rules against reforming the rules themselves are unconstitutional prior restraint), or watch the Republicans invoke the nuclear option later to end it (falsely claiming that the filibuster on actual bills is unconstitutional).

    Dhogaza (#94) has a good point when he mentions that the very word “filibuster” means “pirate” (although actually, it’s based on Dutch, not Spanish. The same Dutch root also migrated to Spanish, but the Spanish word “Filibustero” refers to 19th century US mercenaries like William Walker who tried to establish dukedoms in Central America.)

    Andy Olsen (#53) hits the nail on the head when he says:

    “Want climate action? Support reform of the filibuster.”

  150. Lewis W. says:

    Well maybe a ‘reverse filibuster’ has no chance of working but a couple of 24/7 weeks of Senators showing pictures of the disaster in the Gulf and debunking the lies and reminding everyone that the deniers want to “block the green technology development and infrastructure JOBS that will assure the present and future of our great nation is not in the hands of the communists in China” can’t really hurt.

    Maybe a sit-in filibuster hunger strike on the Senate floor?

  151. johna says:

    153. Paul Craig. Junk science didn’t kill nuclear power – it was a Hollywood movie with Jane Fonda. That is the view of underemployed nuclear engineers – the rejection of new plants had nothing to do with careless and costly failures by their industry. How could Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania or Chernobyl have mattered? Why should skyrocketing interest rates or ‘Whoops’ [ WPPS ] the evaporation of good credit ratings matter? Just give us more big toys to play with and we’ll get it right in Gen II or III or IV. Maybe.

    Nuclear power was halted to a large extent by their own management. Plants were not built safely, on time or under budget. Their legacy made a nuclear plant coming in under budget an oxymoron. Existing U.S. reactors cost customers 4 -5 & 6 times the quoted price.

    Yet I am sure we’ll build more and stumble through some of the same mistakes.

  152. tirwin says:

    It is hard for me to view this polemic idea of a failed presidency. Where were the outcries during the Bush years. Talk about your failed presidency. And yet he gets elected to two terms by starting two wars. Give me a break.

  153. Peter Fusaro says:

    When you work 20 years on the issue of climate change and see the failure of leadership, it is very depressing. Obama has not learned the real lesson of DC: hard ball politics. He did not exert much effort or political capital on climate change legislation nor green jobs. He seems tone deaf on the issue of green job creation. Without a price on carbon, it’s business as usual in these troubling times. What’s left is state level work on DG solar and energy efficiency. It won’t get the job done but it is the only game in town!

  154. Sasparilla says:

    #145 John McCormick, thank you for the compliment. I think you’re right on as well – and a very good point about geo-engineering & ocean acidification.

    For the most part the nut job’s and their geo-engineering scheme’s write off the ocean – their mostly focused on a rear guard action to temporarily (although that part is not talked about much) delay temps from getting to the (kill billions) range (presumably so we can fix things for real, somehow, in the mean time). I fear we’ll end up having to pin our hopes on some of these crazy scheme’s at the rate we’re going.

    #157 tirwin – regarding “the failed presidency” – I believe it is being said in reference to how this President’s term will be viewed in say 100 years if we stay on our path, kick off the feedbacks, blow through 1000ppm and have a planet with 1-3 billion people on it by the end of this century (likely with the U.S. not existing as it currently does). You’re quite right, Bush was worse (but he was supposed to be). This President made full action on this a keystone of his administration (before getting in) and then didn’t make the effort to push it before dropping it (probably for the rest of his term). People will be able to look back and say “what if he had tried and pushed in the Senate on this that first year when the house passed it….”. In that situation I can understand the idea of viewing it as a failed presidency.

  155. UGH!I wrote a really long response to your article but my internet cut out and I lost it all! Oh well, just wanted to tell you that it was a great post! Great job!