The Sounds Of Silence On Science: The Country Is On Fire, But Obama Isn’t

Record-breaking heat is helping to fuel an ever-worsening drought, which is in turn devastating our forests and crops.

Does science have anything to say about what is causing all these off-the-charts records today — and, more importantly, what the future holds if we keep doing what we are doing?

Apparently not, according to the man who famously promised that his election would usher in “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Here is Obama’s “weekly address” (which should really be described as “address weakly”):

This may be the President’s idea of an “All-Hands-On-Deck Response” but it is also a “No-Brains-On-Deck Response.” Where is a frog with a brain stem when you need one?

Obama ends by saying of his proposed drought response, “If we look out for each other, we’ll come out of this stronger than before.” Actually, if we keep ignoring climate science and climate scientists, the only thing that will come out of this stronger than before will be the droughts of the future — see “James Hansen Is Correct About Catastrophic Projections For U.S. Drought If We Don’t Act Now.”

And yes, it was just April that Obama told Rolling Stone that because of the poor economy:

… it’s been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.

Four months down, two to go. If not now, when? If not the President, who?

Team Obama needs to read the new Yale public opinion analysis, “The Political Benefits of Taking a Pro-Climate Stand in 2012” along with these other polls and studies:

81 Responses to The Sounds Of Silence On Science: The Country Is On Fire, But Obama Isn’t

  1. Dan Ives says:

    Hey Joe. You know who actually does take a serious stand on climate change and who makes it a serious piece of their platform while running for President? Jill Stein. Also Rocky Anderson. Why not write a post about them?

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Yes We Can!

    Why Obama Can and Should Start Talking About Climate

    Obama should not waste precious time to respond to every claim of a flip flopper. Instead use the air time and attention spans to start with calling for more actions to combat climate change. Isn’t anything else said anyhow? Let’s progress!

  3. Bill Dundas says:

    First Obama needs to win re-election, then he can decide what to do about climate change. Making the climate crisis a central theme of this campaign still represents a losing proposition. The American public has a strong aversion to hard realities and you won’t win any votes by reminding them that they’re also facing a climate catastrophe among all of the other bad things happening these days. Obama knows what he’s doing.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    His deeds, or shall we say the absence of them, are a bigger problem. He could put coal and fracked gas out of business administratively in about two years, and upgrade energy efficiency, too.

    The big boys from Dallas and Wall Street are behind the scenes here. Obama knows that if he trips them up, he’s in trouble. Of course, he could get away with actual “change” after the election if he wanted to. So far, we have not seen any reason to think he would wake up one day and decide to be a President for real.

  5. D. R. Tucker says:

    Two giants from the world of climate science join me on The Green Front. Dr. Joseph Romm, editor of and author of seven books, discusses his latest literary contribution; Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga. Romm weighs in on this summer’s extreme heat, fires and drought as well as the political and media drought in lack of discussion on climate and energy issues leading up to the November election. Next, Dr. Michael Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, responds to last week’s attacks from Dr. Richard Muller.

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

  6. I agree: This is my guess- if he wins, he WILL announce some kind of ‘step forward’ in taking on climate change. It will seem like a big deal to the mainstream media (and of course the fossil fuel folks and the denailsphere will be on it like rabid dogs) – but it will be a mere ripple of what actually needs to be said and done which would be something like this: “Climate change is an increasingly impending existential crisis, the time to act is now and so I am announcing a ‘Green Apollo Program’.” Sadly, I don’t believe he is capable of being a true visionary leader that steps up despite the (massive) headwinds- despite his health-care battle, etc- he lacks the cojones when all is said and done for this particular issue.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    “Making the climate crisis a central theme of this campaign still represents a losing proposition.”

    First off he does not have to make it a central theme and secondly it does not necessarily means losing. ( The Political Benefits of Taking a Pro-Climate Stand in 2012 ). It for most depends on the type of messaging. He will not lose anything when calling for better environmental stewardship, clean air and water.

    Now in regards to the election, the topic of Co2 Tax might be not a real cake walk. But the R Ticket already has it stances about government spending and tax of the poor or whatever. But this can all (and must) be addressed. Be more honest with the truth is the better way (That we face a dire situation with climate change).
    But there is a lot of potential for looking at the prospects of positive outcomes from climate action (like what i mentioned above).

    And if you explain the Co2 Tax and make it simple and pay it for the most part directly back to the taxpayers (which transition – emit less), it then even become the winner topic of election day!

  8. Ken Barrows says:

    If the really climate concerned dumped the Prez for Jill Stein, there could be a real party concerned about climate change in 15 years. Instead, we’ll reelect Obama and then kvetch about how he’s not doing anything. Then in 2017 we get a Republican.

  9. BillD says:

    My local newspaper in northern Indiana highlighted the current energy debate as the front page lead article today. Romney/Ryan are critisizing Obama for favoring green, renewable energy over over “traditional” dirty fossil fuels, especially coal. Ryan characterizes renewable energy as “a fad.” Amazing, neither political side nor the news writers mentioned climate change, CO2 emissions or even “traditional” air pollution. How can we talk about energy policy without considering climate change or even the “traditional” soot, fine particulates and mercury pollution. Is it really so risky for Obama to mention carbon emissions. I’d really like to know what the political data and political discussions are saying. I think that Obama should talk about climate change and take the risk of offending the Tea Party faithful.

  10. Peter M says:

    I agree with you. The American public is still hugely uniformed about the actual science of climate change today.

    If we continue to see a country in the future, during summer months that resembles an inferno with cracked baked ground, and ongoing crop failures the public in just about every geographic region will begin to become engaged on the issue.

    Letting Romney win would be a disaster. Ohio- where coal is mined in the south eastern part of the state, is a crucial state Obama needs to carry.

    Obama needs to WIN, then he can begin a policy shift that will likely take years. Romney would set us back much further- and on the sure road to catastrophe.

  11. Dan Ives says:

    “there could be a real party concerned about climate change in 15 years.” – There are real parties concerned about climate change right now. I just named their nominees.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    It comes down how you sell it. It’s a Win-Win situation with climate actions – we require in order to solve it. Everybody can be part of it when reducing Co2 footprints. And the transition will initiate a new economy, where everybody can and should participate. Because on the bottom line it is a National Security situation.

  13. I would make a Mitt Romney $10K bet that no question on climate change makes it into the debate cycle. Schieffer, Radatz, Crowley and Lehrer do not have it in them to ask.

    Frankly, I would rather have seen Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart named to moderate.

  14. catman306 says:

    If you live in a solidly red state, vote for Jill Stein. Mittkins already has your state’s electoral votes. NOTHING to lose. Plenty to gain to bring climate change back into the national vocabulary, shortly after Election Day.

    I can’t say what I’d do if I lived in a swing state or a blue state.

  15. Steve says:

    Aside from asking the people to ask their government to spend more money (meaning asking Treasury and the Fed to create it out of thin air) in order to address a particular problem, it’s been some time since the left has asked people to make individualized sacrifices for the good of all. In other words, 1942 was a long time ago.

    If you are a serious, deep political thinker of liberal persuasion, you are going to have to come to grips with a major paradox presented by climate change — the Progressive ambition of a greater material comfort for all… a higher standard of living for all… has been underwritten by cheap fossil fuels. Conversion to clean energy cannot, and will not, happen quickly enough given the physics of climate change and escalating severe weather events. Tom Friedman is wrong on this one. Liberals cannot coddle their constituency through this problem. And redistributing the economic pie, calling out various targets for fist-pounding expressions of disdain and blame (Big Oil, Big Coal, Paid Disinformers), and catering to every liberal special interest with a hand raised in the room will not solve this problem.

    The climate activist left needs to get more centrist to be truly effective (not be more preachy, but actually reduce emissions) –more like a Michael Bloomberg, more willing to employ hard-love tactics, unafraid to call it as it is — or the right will be imposing the “solution” on a problem, ironically, that (at least in the US) was identified by the left. Democrats have a difficult time telling people to get their personal lives together. That will need to change.

    I honestly don’t know if Dan’s candidates are prepared to do that or not, but someone has to do it. Too much driving in vehicles that are too big, too much air travel, too much A/C, too much red meat, too much over-spending on “the good life” leaving nothing left in the budget to invest in solar panels, in relocating work closer to home, in dumping the 4X4 or SUV to get a hybrid.

    We’ll see. Obama’s political tactics on this issue do not surprise me at all. He may not win if he tells voters they are a big part of their own problem.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You seem to have just as much ‘choice’ as we do in Australia. Either a do-nothing incumbent, who, if re-elected, will continue to do nothing in an attempt to please the real rulers, the 0.01% (Obama and Gillard)or the hard Right, which will destroy every environmental advance ever made and drive us, at maniacal speed, straight into the jaws of destruction (Romney or Abbott). I mean, isn’t ‘demo-crazy’ something wondrous to behold?

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama is, and always was, a lost cause. Vote for him and you will get four more years of non-action. I would not call it betrayal, as he has served his real masters, the rich, quite faithfully.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’d say that your assessment is akin to Obama being informed that the Yellowstone caldera was about to erupt again, and refusing to add it to the ‘bad news’. Except that the climate catastrophe might yet, possibly, be averted. Imagine the fame that would be Obama’s down through the ages if he was the first US President to tackle the ecological crises on the wartime footing that is required? Instead he chooses to serve those who own him, and that is not the 99.9%.

  19. Mr. Anon says:

    I think we should be fair: there is a limit to the President’s power. That said, he has made significant progress towards clean energy. Michael Grunwald wrote a very good article about this:

    Jill Stein has some good ideas, but they can never pass an obstructive Congress. Meanwhile, Obama is doing what he can, despite overwhelming Republican opposition. He started off his presidency by investing $50 billion in clean energy, and made historic mileage standards.

    We can help Obama in his fight by pushing the Senate and House to end subsidies for Big Oil, and to pass an extension of Wind Energy Tax Credits. Let’s not get divided by third party candidates that can’t do much, when Obama needs our help to deal with the Republicans.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Ryan and the other Rightwing die-hards cannot and will not ever change their tune. It is a feature of the Rightwing mentality to be incapable of admitting error (this is to do with hypertrophied egomania)doubly so when those correct are on the viscerally despised ‘Left’. No amount of weather disasters, science or evidence of climatic change will change their minds. It will all be ‘natural variability’ or something that happened in the past or just part of the great ‘watermelon’ conspiracy that their paranoid minds truly believe in. To live without heart, soul or brain is possible. And they often claim to be ‘Christians’ when the sin against the Holy Spirit, against life itself, is the sin for which there is no forgiveness.

  21. Mr. Anon says:

    Voting for these third party candidates will divide us as progressives. Stein and Anderson won’t win, and supporting them will divert support that Obama needs to fight the Republicans. Instead of throwing resources away to useless third parties, we can focus or energy trying to help the president extend and expand Wind Energy tax credits, while ending tax credits to oil companies. These are legislative battles that we can win, if we push hard enough.

  22. Mr. Anon says:

    You are falling right into the Republicans’ hands. They are trying to obstruct everything Obama does, with the intent of making Obama’s base abandon him. Don’t prove to them that this strategy works. Double your support of Obama, help him end subsidies to big oil and expand credits to wind energy, and we can win this fight. Call your Senators and Representatives to push for clean, renewable energy.

    Obama already has done great things. See here for details:

  23. prokaryotes says:

    It doesn’t get better than what we have now.

  24. Mark E says:

    Wrong Thinking!

    False thinking.

    Snoozing comfy votes for Jill from red states are meaningless fluff.

    Voters in BLUE states need to convince their democratic candidates to put global warming into the top three issues on the agenda, or else see everyone jumping ship to vote Green Party….. recall how well this “yank the center my way” strategy worked for the Tea Party?

    IMO, the Green Party is silly to waste time or money campaigning in solid red states, since those votes really don’t matter a whit anyway.

  25. Mr. Anon says:

    Not how politics works mark. Voting for the green party will cause Obama to lose the support he needs to win the battle. In face, taking the progressives out of the Democratic party will leave only the moderates left, which will make the party more moderate. The same thing happened in 1912 where Teddy Roosevelt took all the progressives out of the Republican party, turning the Republicans into a conservative party.

  26. B Waterhouse says:

    Agree, Mr. Dundas. And to be able to do what needs to be done about climate change, he needs a majority in both houses. He can probably get that by talking about Medicare, Social Security, and green energy, all popular with independents. I’d want to know where truly undecided voters are on climate change before advocating that as a big winning campaign issue for Democrats. AFTER the election we can push hard for action, not now.

  27. Dan Ives says:

    @Mr. Anon – When the hard-right Republicans went off and formed the Tea Party, did that cause the Republican Party to become more moderate?

  28. Dan Ives says:

    “Voting for these third party candidates will divide us as progressives.” – No. If you want to vote for Obama, who is demonstrably a conservative, not even remotely progressive, then be my guest. Stein or Anderson have actual progressive platforms.
    The battle you want to help Obama win is a battle for which conservative party gets to be in power. Does that sound like a progressive outcome to you?

  29. sailrick says:

    Parties like the Greens, need to establish themselves at local and state and federal legislative levels, building a caucus. Like what is done in Europe.

    Then maybe president.

  30. Instead of worrying about the “National Budget” so much He needs to worry about the Earths “Energy Budget” more.

  31. Todd says:

    Would the Romney adm. propose this, or will they try to reverse it?

    Source: Planetark (

    “…The new fuel economy proposal, announced in July 2011 after months of negotiations between the Obama administration and auto makers, would require the companies to reach an average fuel efficiency across their U.S. fleets of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

    “Increased fuel efficiency is a goal all parties support, but pursuing new standards that increase vehicle cost and decrease vehicle safety is dangerous for consumers and unacceptable from regulators,” Darrell Issa, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a statement.

    …The Obama administration previously estimated the new rules would lower the country’s oil use by 2.2 million barrels a day over the next 15 years and result in big savings for American consumers at the gas pump.

    Under the current mandate implemented in 2009, average fuel economy was to reach 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.”

  32. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    There is not enough time left for such leisurely progress.

  33. Nick B says:

    America without vision is a dangerous place where the vacuum will draw in dangerous fools like Romney and his petro-buddies.

    Obama needs to man up on the environment and appeal directly to those whose futures are directly threatened by climate change.

    Even the BBC radio are running a show explaining what the affects of climate change will be on the BBC. They maybe falling short but at least they are trying. It is the media and politicians “duty of care” to tackle this issue and if they fail, we all fail.

  34. Mark E says:

    It’s all about power, and setting the agenda. Sounds like politics to me.

    That said, I can at least agree that the Greens are over-reaching. They need the political maturity to admit their errors and learn from their enemy’s (Tea Party’s) success: give up running 3rd party challengers in the general election and instead run challengers in the democratic primaries. Why else are former center-GOP congressmen now ‘way ‘way to the right?

    And no, Mulga, I don’t think there is enough time for that approach. On the other hand, it is the only democratic process that can do any good at all, and the rest is up to the earth to teach us better.

  35. Mark E says:

    That may be, but the only effective alternatives on the horizon involve less and less democracy, and ever increasing amounts of state control.

    In many European countries, they use a parliament, where many different parties can have seats, and control goes to the biggest coalition of disparate parties. So building a caucus in the US needs a different model than the European countries.

    Fortunately, the US has the perfect caucus-forming example…. a contemporary caucus with outstanding success: The Tea Party! While it might be too much to hope for someone like the Koch boys to fund a green democratic caucus, Green Party sympathizers would be more effective organizing a revolution from within the democratic ranks.

  36. BillD says:

    I think that there must be some political survey or focus group study that causes Obama and his political inner circle to decide to not mention climate change. It might be fair to say, that “given the current political climate, the best that we can do is to encourage renewable energy and continue to develop domestic fossil fuels.”

    It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten a “survey” from the DNC asking me for money and asking me what I think that key problems facing the country are. Unfortunately, the closest item (of 20) to climate was “energy independence” which is not even close. I was really distressed that “North Korea” rated higher than “climate change” which did not even appear on the list.

  37. Bailey says:

    The real problem is that the environment is not a new enough ‘program’ in the evolutionary fear response of humans – even though in reality, it is the 500 lb grizzly. Similarly, many are more horrified at knife point than at gun point because a sharp edge has a stronger evolutionary entrenchment than a bullet. So what do we do? Only those of us with sufficient higher brain function can get concerned with other than immediate ‘fight or flight’ fears, and Obama may sense this.

  38. Ken Barrows says:

    Real parties with more than 1% of the vote.

  39. SecularAnimist says:

    catman306 wrote: “If you live in a solidly red state, vote for Jill Stein … I can’t say what I’d do if I lived in a swing state or a blue state.”

    If you live in a state where either Romney or Obama has a clear lead, you can vote for a third party candidate to “send a message” without much concern that you’ll actually affect the outcome of the election.

    I am a registered Green Party voter in Maryland, one of 30 states where the Green Party has ballot access. I voted for Obama in 2008. This year I plan to vote for Jill Stein.

    Obama has not only failed to adequately address global warming, but has embraced pro-fossil fuel policies that are guaranteed to make the problem much worse. It’s true that his administration has supported efficiency and renewable energy to a greater extent than previous administrations (which isn’t saying much), but not to the degree that is required, and those efforts have been exceeded by his administration’s support for massively expanding fossil fuel extraction.

  40. Carol says:


    What is your message here?
    This is nothing new to those paying attention.
    Obama has been consistent; staying the course of his term which has been the epitome of crazy making—-saying one thing and doing or NOT doing another. His speeches offer a most sincere countenance, eloquent/convincing delivery with images of Michelle in the background her arms lovingly holding bunches of organic fruits and vegetables.

    In your article you ask the question:
    “Four months down, two to go. If not now, when? If not the President, who?”

    Let’s talk about these questions. Bring it on Joe. We have run out of time to continue hoping for the best.
    Isn’t a vote for Obama a form of denial and/or wishful, magical thinking?

    If you are going to support Obama and advocate others do so, what do we need to do on another front to deal with all the issues you so forcefully, repeatedly (thank you!), bravely bring to light?

  41. Carol says:

    Just a note of appreciation for your comments her on CP.
    I will admit that when scrolling through the comments, your name is the first I look for with your consistently incisive, witty and spot on comments . . keep on posting!
    I know bottom line what is happening to our planet is beyond tragic but when you use terms like, “hypertrophied egomania” or “demo-crazy” you make me laugh and I don’t know about you, but at this stage of levels of CO2—- if I lost the ability to laugh (thank you Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and others) crying—- or worse—-apathy/depression would take over!

  42. John McCormick says:


    It cannot be said often enough: a Congress that has the votes to kill any and all progressive legislation is the most powerful entity in the world. President Obama, in his second term, would then have to watch and wail like all of us hawks will.

    Having said that, the die is already cast. Congressional nominees are going to go onto printed ballots in a few months. We know what we are going to get. So, moan, if you wish, about Obama’s silence.

  43. Mark E says:

    what we need to do is to get serious about a green revolution within the democratic party

  44. Dan Ives says:

    A party that actually cares about solving the climate crisis, even with a small percentage of the vote, is exponentially more useful than two dominant parties who don’t seem to mind if we leave our children and grandchildren in unimaginable suffering.
    The sooner everyone realizes this, the sooner the climate-friendly party grows into a dominant party.

  45. Dan Ives says:

    I agree about the green revolution part, but disagree about the “within the Democratic Party” part.
    If the Obama Presidency teaches us anything, it teaches us that The Democrats are completely useless instruments of progressive change. They are corrupt and have conservative policy goals. The Democratic Party is where progressive hopes go to die.

  46. Seth Masia says:

    McCormick is correct. The issue is Congress, not Obama. If he had a progressive majority in Congress, Obama could, and would, swing for the fence.

    I’m reminded of what FDR said to civil rights leaders when his majority in Congress depended on a solid phalanx of Dixiecrats. Asked to support a voting rights bill, he said “Make me.”

  47. John McCormick says:

    Mark, we own the Democratic Party.

    Infiltrate its highest ranks, hold office in districts and national. Tell the Party what we expect and demand.

  48. Dan Ives says:

    I am so tired of seeing this “Obama’s hands are tied by Congress” excuse. 2009-2010 demonstrate that even with huge, unstoppable majorities, Obama chose to implement the Heritage Foundation’s health care plan, entrenching insurance companies and selling out the people. Apparently that was more important to him than solving the greatest crisis mankind has ever faced.
    I can’t even bring myself to further debunk your excuse for Obama. Suffice it to say, anyone who still believes that is willfully ignoring the policy outcomes of the last four years.

  49. Dan Ives says:

    See my reply to McCormick above. In 2009-2010 Obama had his progressive majorities. And instead of by “swing for the fence,” he gave us the ineffective, corrupt, Heritage Foundation health care policy.

  50. John McCormick says:

    Dan, stop complaining. However old you are, it does not matter. There will never be an alternative to the Repub and Democratic parties. Not enough money in all of Hollywood. And the climate clock will win out anyway. Get over it.

    Change the makeup, membership and platform of the Democratic Party. We still have to govern America as if everyone is equal and the rethugs are now defining the fate of middle and lower class America; including the fate of women.

    Take your third party ideas out to the pool.

  51. Dan Ives says:

    So instead of rebut my argument, your response is “Stop complaining. Get over it. Take your ideas out of the pool.” Exactly who would be helped by my silence? I don’t think it’s the climate and those who want to do something about the crisis.
    “Change the makeup, membership and platform of the Democratic Party.” – And how long will that take? Can that be done before the climate clock wins out?

  52. John McCormick says:

    Dan, on February 4, 2010 the 111th Congressional Senate was comprised of 57 Democrats, two Independents (one being Senator Sanders) and 41 rethugs.

    No sixty votes there. A fence too far for Obama (and the big green machine did not go hell bent for the votes and instead viewed the Waxman-Markey bill as too weak). Go figure.

  53. Dan Ives says:

    “Mark, we own the Democratic Party.” – It’s painfully obvious who owns the Democratic Party: Wall Street banks, defense contractors, health insurance companies, hedge fund managers, wealthy law firms, etc. To dispute that is to be ignorant or in denial. Take your pick.

  54. Seth Masia says:

    Let me remind you that “Obamacare” was deeply compromised in order to salvage the votes of fence-sitting conservative Democrats. Remember the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, Bismarck Bank Job, the Gang of Six, the Gang of 10 and the Stupak dozen. Obama had a Democratic majority but NOT a progressive majority. If you want to affect the power balance in Washington, work to elect real liberals to Congress.

  55. Dan Ives says:

    So we get to ignore January 2009 through February 2010?
    Even so, of those 41 “rethugs,” a couple were moderates that accept climate science. The Maine senators could possibly have been swayed (they have broken from party ranks many times). We’ll never know because Obama and Harry Reid didn’t care enough to try. But you can’t just say “No sixty votes there” and end the conversation, unless you have transcendent mind powers.

  56. Dan Ives says:

    So we get to ignore January 2009 through February 2010?

  57. Carol says:

    Pretty bleak picture you paint—I guess I’m not one who wants to partake in “moaning” combined with learned helplessness/resignation. Yikes! Unpleasant image.
    To clarify: I posed a question to Joe who I believe is concerned (was he moaning?) about Obama’s silence?
    It was just a meager attempt on my part to move the dialogue out of and beyond the box (or mold if the “die is cast”) we seem to find ourselves in.
    I expected nothing more from Obama over the past four years and as such I can’t justify my person emitting moans or wails of dismay over his record on climate issues. As such I will not partake in such utterances. Furthermore I will be shocked if he ever (he has 2 months) brings climate change to the forefront of the presidential campaign —- or is Congress stopping him from doing that too?

    And also for the record, I’m waiting for a list of all the progressive legislation that Obama tried to get passed during his first term?
    AND for someone to answer the question I have repeatedly posed on this site about Keystone—
    could Obama have blocked it instead of stalling it?
    Could he stall, if not block, drilling in the Arctic ocean?
    Lastly, if Obama gets reelected, I can’t imagine him wailing. I guess I missed that as being part of his M.O. over the past 4 years and as far as I know, Congress cannot duck tape his mouth—-or can they?
    Simultaneously wailing AND moaning is REALLY an unpleasant image!
    ps Bill McKibben will be on Fighting Bob radio at in 5 minutes—perhaps he will speak to some of these issues in a way that is more constructive . . I hope you can refrain from such rhetoric like “take your ideas out to the pool”. That really hinders healthy dialogue and should be reserved for the likes of Fox news. Although given the heat here in the midwest (and much of the country) . . maybe it’s not such a bad idea . . throw in a Pina Colada?

  58. John McCormick says:

    No, Dan, I looked it up for you.


    January 56 Dems 41 rethugs 1Ind
    April 57 Dems 40 rethugs 2Ind
    August 57 Dems 41 rethugs 1Ind
    September 58 Dems 40 rethugs 1Ind

  59. SecularAnimist says:

    Seth Masia wrote: “The issue is Congress, not Obama.”

    Yes, it’s too bad that Obama’s heroic efforts were defeated by Congress.

    But, please remind me:

    When was it that Obama fought hard for climate legislation, used his “bully pulpit” to make the urgency of the issue abundantly clear to the American people, and marshaled public support to pressure Congress to pass the Waxman-Markey bill?

    When was it that Obama worked with the Senate Democrats to force the Senate Republicans to make good on their filibuster threat, and made one Republican Senator after another stand at the podium of the Senate floor spouting their Koch-funded denialist BS in front of the American people, hour by hour and day by day, live on C-Span?

    Please remind me. Because I’m having a hard time remembering when it was that Obama did those things.

  60. John McCormick says:

    Secular, excellent questions that on Senator Harry Reid can answer.

  61. Mark E says:

    Dan, when I said Greens should organize a revolution within the Democratic party, I was talking about something d*i*f*f*e*r*e*n*t, not a campaign dressed up as conventional corporate lap dogs. Use that imagination, man…. what would a platform and campaign look like, if it were truly progressive, but mounted from within the democratic party?

    Learn from the Tea Party! They totally lambasted entrenched GOP encumbents who didn’t pass muster. Are you saying Greens are so politically incompetent that they are incapable of keeping their values and using those same strategies? If that’s the case, they have no business winning ANY elections and I may have to start regretting all my Green Party votes in the past.

  62. Dan Ives says:

    It appears your way of defending your position is to either A) ignore difficult questions entirely or B) provide partial answers that skirt around the difficult questions or C) change the subject.

  63. John McCormick says:

    Carol, you asked Joe:

    “If you are going to support Obama and advocate others do so, what do we need to do on another front to deal with all the issues you so forcefully, repeatedly (thank you!), bravely bring to light?”

    The “what do we need to do” is what a few of us have been saying over and over again…own our Democratic Party from the inside. If we cannot accomplish even a smidge of that objective, we are near to useless.

    We probably cannot turn the Congress into a haven of virtue and progressive actions but we can certainly raise the bar, within the Democratic Party, when incumbents do not meet our standards. Then we put our money into their opponent’s race. That is a local media market and it will not take the many, many hundreds of millions of dollars a Green Party would need to deliver a Dr. Stein to the White House.

    I was snide towards Dan Ives. Though, stakes are too high to kick that third party idea into life.

    And, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get some wisdom, council, ideas from the well endowed big green machine. Their titular heads of state are as frustratingly silent on taking on the Democratic Party and its standards for candidates as Obama is about Climate Change. Is this blog to pedantic for them to post a comment or two? Fred are you there?

  64. Seth Masia says:

    Good questions, Secular. I’ll remind you that a president can function only with the political capital he has. Obama came in as a one-term senator; you can’t expect him to push the pieces around the way LBJ was able to do. Should we have elected McCain instead? We wouldn’t be better off. Maybe if we’d returned the Clintons to the White House, something might have gotten done in the first term.

  65. Jamie Ross says:

    Unfortunately, someone else owns the party. We just live here.

  66. Jamie Ross says:

    Wrong analogy. Climate Change is not an issue like civil rights. Rather, it is a simple matter of survival – like a serious war. Note that FDR did not say “make me” when it came to WWII. He did what he needed to without the external push.

  67. Dick Smith says:

    Joe, to repeat what I asked in the weekend thread. Can you please explain the implications of Obama’s chief UN climate negotiator backing away from +2C as a universal goal. I see that as worse than anything George W. Bush ever did, because it signals to the world that he won’t be doing a damn thing to get a meaningful climate pact in his next term. If I am over-reacting, I’d sure like someone–you, one of your many smart commenters–to explain why it’s not a big deal. thank you.

  68. Those of us who are educated climate activists (educated around the basic climate science and ramifications) see this: Human civilization and, possibly, the species itself is an existential emergency and the time-frame of that emergency seems to be advancing as feedbacks are showing up as more powerful than modeled. This degree of ‘existential’ emergency has been seen once before in modern human history- with nuclear weaponry and Hiroshima and all the mushroom cloud photos from tests fully triggered our evolutionary ‘self-protection’ responses. But…CLEARLY…this has not yet occurred with climate change. Does Obama get that this is an existential emergency??? Perhaps he truly does not and so it playing politics as usual. My guess is most of us on this site want him (and other leaders) to react as if a launch code sequence has been initiated for the ICBMs…and are watching in frustration as the clock ticks down to various points of no return.

  69. Paul Magnus says:

    Is that video a Disneyland production?

  70. Paul Magnus says:

    Woa, gloves coming off all round….

    Agribusiness and climate change amid dramatic US drought

  71. Brian R Smith says:

    I’ve been commenting (harping actually), with near zero interest here, that focusing on the balance of media presence offers an end-run strategy that should be taken seriously.

    “Football metaphor: Think of the total media landscape as the playing field. Hearts & minds of fans at stake. If we can’t control the field we loose, period. Teamwork, required! Plays designed to win on this muddy field, required!

    The climate movement, a powerful group of players, is playing defense against a better organized & determined rival, and it is not playing as a team. Analysis of the opposition not connected to coordination on the field leaves us gaining a yard or two when what we need is a hell of a passing game.”

    Joe asks: “If not now, when? If not the President, who?”

    I believe the who is the leadership within the climate movement which, if it damn well felt like it, could organize a national, coordinated media campaign to dominate the conversation about climate reality, ecosystem catastrophe, energy and solutions.

    Why wait, and wait some more, for the President to declare the emergency, or for Democrats to win the majority? Why not take the lead NOW with a public that more than ever wants the truth and a grip on potential solutions? It *IS* possible to bring the science, and all the issues, before voters on national television and KEEP it there.

    Want Obama to act? Make it impossible for him not to.


  72. John McCormick says:

    Seth, we need help. We are addicted to blaming President Obama for the price of taco shells and anything else that we believe he bears responsibility. Dang it, it’s the makeup of the US Congress and we cannot seem to grasp that elementary fact.

    Understanding how America’s democracy works takes some study and hard medicine.

    PA, TN and NC rethugs have successfully are changing state laws to assure the poor, the weak, the progressive student cannot vote. That was not an accidental happening. Voters in TN, PA and NC allowed their electoral process to slip away from them as if it was a burden.

    Now, they are paying the price. Yes. Elections matter. Decisions have consequences. Don’t vote and live and die by the results.

    Wake up CP contributors. We have no leadership in the Progressive movement willing to pull us out of the ditch because they have abdicated their responsibility to assuring their funding base will not be offended or they don’t have a clue where to go. Fred Krupp are you reading this?

    Getting outraged at our big green leadership is a good place to start figuring out how we can turn this nuclear submarine away from the reef. Time is our enemy and complacency among our big greens is dragging us down.

    Maybe we could start by picketing the offices of Environmental Fund, NRDC and PEW to demand they step up and lead or tell us they are in over their heads and don’t know what to do.

  73. John McCormick says:

    Dan, democracy takes a lot of hard work and reality. I am not blowing smoke when I say that Obama could not have gotten the Waxman-Markey bill through the 111th Congress. He could not beat Ben Nelson and his few blue dogs into submission.. Maybe you could?

  74. John McCormick says:

    Dan,it is a fact that democracy takes a lot of hard work and reality. I am not blowing smoke when I say that Obama could not have gotten the Waxman-Markey bill through the 111th Congress. He could not beat Ben Nelson and his few blue dogs into submission.. Maybe you could?

  75. Jamie Ross says:

    We are addicted to blaming President Obama for the price of taco shells and anything else that we believe he bears responsibility. Dang it, it’s the makeup of the US Congress and we cannot seem to grasp that elementary fact.

    Climate change ≠ taco shells. This IS the president’s responsibility. You can blame Congress too – but Obama doesn’t get a pass. Both branches share blame.

    It is much harder to change Congress than the presidency. Most districts are not really competitive, and the filibuster’s demand for super-majorities makes victory meaningless. Given those realities, we are right to expect more out of the presidency. There really is no one else, not at the national level.

  76. Leif says:

    One must remember that the above is what it took to get into WW II. Big money must remember that they came out of WW II in good standing even though they were “Nationalized” by the government. And the West WON that war, and big money came out smelling like a rose! It is beyond me how old school conservative Republicans can side with a possible Tin Hat Economy! Have they all been infected with the “Ecocide Now Bug.”

  77. ANGRY BADGER says:

    I had a conversation on Tuesday morning with an engineer from the National Energy Technology Lab, located here in Pittsburgh. H egave me an insight into the thinking in this administration: in short , don’t expect anything revolututionary> The NETL is still tasked with working on clean coal, for instance. Their positon is that we can’t displace the existing infrastucture overnight. I got the idea that, as smart and experienced as this gentleman was, he didn’t grasp the level of threat climate change and ocean acidification pose. The stance, apparently, is that we have the time to make an orderly transition. BS!
    That said, he did make clear that there is a level of sustained funding for renewables that has not been seen before, unlike previous administrations.
    We all have to hold our noses and vote for Obama, just to keep the crazies at bay for another four years.

  78. Leif says:

    Damn, I love Free and Open Journalism. Great discussion to all above.
    Two Palms Up,

  79. Jan says:

    We don’t have time for politicians to catch up to Reality. If they don’t suffer politically and at the polls because of their lack of moral courage things will never change.

  80. Carol says:

    Thanks to Joe for getting this dialoge it started.
    Operative word “started”. Hopefully those with bully pulpits like Joe, Bill M., James Hansen, groups like Tar Sands Action and too many others to list will coalesce and take this to the next level which is a massive movement.
    Clearly that is what needs to happen as the outlook for immediate effective leadership is bleak if not hopeless.
    The debate is over we need to take it further.
    Stop the blame game, join forces and start a movement that joins people together. There is too much fragmentation now.
    Ground zero for this could be Madison Wisconsin at the Fighting Bob Fest in 4 weeks. Bill McKibben will be there (Jill Stein and many others too).
    The heart of the country could be the starting point of something big. Plenty of room too!
    Joe, James H. and all those that want to start a movement—come to Madison!
    Those of you who want to do more than pontificate or argue about whose fault this is—-get away from your computers—-let’s start a massive movement.

  81. SecularAnimist says:

    John McCormick wrote: “Obama could not have gotten the Waxman-Markey bill through the 111th Congress.”

    He could have tried. He didn’t.