Obama Says We Must Respond Now To ‘The Global Threat Of Our Time,’ Boehner Says That’s ‘Absolutely Crazy’

The President went overseas to ramp up his rhetoric on climate. The speaker of the house kept his head in the ground, denouncing any new plan for domestic action on climate change as “absolutely crazy.”

Recently, Obama has sounded “feckless on climate change,” dialing back his rhetoric on the moral urgency of climate action.

But at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Wednesday Obama returned to the moral argument:

Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet. The effort to slow climate change requires bold action. And on this, Germany and Europe have led.

In the United States, we have recently doubled our renewable energy from clean sources like wind and solar power. We’re doubling fuel efficiency on our cars. Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down. But we know we have to do more — and we will do more.

With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some. For the grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise. This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.

We have heard strong words from the president in the past on climate, so like most of you, I will reserve judgment on these remarks. They certainly do not sound compatible with approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, a gateway to one of the largest and dirtiest pools of carbon in the world.

But before making the Keystone decision in several months, team Obama has promised to announce a series of domestic actions in the next several days. In DC yesterday, Heather Zichal, the President’s climate aide, didn’t provide specifics but “spoke broadly, however, of bolstering energy efficiency, expanding clean energy on public lands and using various “tools” — including the Clean Air Act — to address climate.”

Hopefully, none of what he proposes will require congressional approval, because this is how Speaker Boehner responded to news of these plans:

“I think this is absolutely crazy. Why would you want to increase the cost of energy and kill more American jobs at a time when American people are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ “

It is, of course, the true cost of energy that is killing the climate — and the switch to cleaner burning sources is the only sustainable source of energy jobs.

But what can you expect from the man who once said, “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical.”

55 Responses to Obama Says We Must Respond Now To ‘The Global Threat Of Our Time,’ Boehner Says That’s ‘Absolutely Crazy’

  1. Lore says:

    Any environmental domestic actions taken by the President, in my view, will arrive as some Faustian bargin in the tradeoff approval for the XL Pipeline.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Obama Plans Global Warming Push Using Executive Powers

    President Barack Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. “We know we have to do more – and we will do more,” Obama said Wednesday in Berlin.

    Obama’s senior energy and climate adviser, Heather Zichal, said the plan would boost energy efficiency of appliances and buildings, plus expand renewable energy. She also said the Environmental Protection Agency was preparing to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants.

    “The EPA has been working very hard on rules that focus specifically on greenhouse gases from the coal sector,” Zichal said.

    Zichal, speaking at a forum hosted by The New Republic in Washington, said that none of the proposals would require new funding or action from Congress. It has shown no appetite for legislation that would put a price on carbon dioxide after a White House-backed bill to set up a market-based system died in Obama’s first term with Democrats in charge.

    The plan, with details expected to be revealed in coming weeks, comes as Obama has been under increasing pressure from environmental groups and lawmakers from states harmed by Superstorm Sandy to cut pollution from existing power plants, the largest source of climate-altering gases. Several major environmental groups and states have threatened to sue the administration to force cuts to power plant emissions. And just last week, former Vice President Al Gore, a prominent climate activist and fellow Democrat, pointedly called on Obama to go beyond “great words” to “great actions.”

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Video of the historic speech

    Obama: “We have history to make” speech, Berlin 2013 – Climate Excerpts

  4. Was this dialed up or dialed down? Always good words and but no action. “When will we every learn.”

    My only good news this week was Energy Sec. Moniz naming Kevin Knobloch as his Chief of Staff. After leading the Union of Concerned Scientists for 10 years, he should at least understand the issues and the proper non-role for nuclear.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Few Thoughts

    First, not only do the President’s words not “sound” compatible with approving the Keystone XL pipeline; they simply AREN’T compatible with approving it, in general and especially when understood in the context of what he’s said before about the need and moral responsibility to address climate change.

    Second, the President’s rhetoric on climate change in this particular speech was part of a huge collection of rhetoric on nearly every issue under the Sun these days. The speech offered a laundry list of ideals and aims: we are going to rid the world of nuclear weapons, eliminate hunger, cure AIDS, achieve justice with peace, and address climate change … and other things (I lost track counting.).

    It also strikes me that he made these comments in Europe: Do ya think that the President has a habit of telling people things who want to hear those things — in other words, telling people things when it’s easy to do so, when applause is likely, when it’s not really a tough decision to say something?

    Tell you what, let’s not make the same sort of mistake again. Let’s make darn sure that the person that the Democratic party nominates next time around will have the verve and leadership attitude and courage to say what needs to be said and DO what needs to be done, proactively and forthrightly.

    CAP and CP can play important roles to that end, and should. Please refer to my earlier comments under other posts, the latest being under the recent post, ‘145 Former Obama Campaign Staffers…’ (although it is still “awaiting moderation” as I write this!).

    Be Well,


  6. M Tucker says:

    Zichal also said the new plan will not require new funding or new legislation. She talked about what EPA might do to regulate new power plants and maybe existing plants.

    “Hopefully, none of what he proposes will require congressional approval…”

    So the only congressional approval we will need is for the Senate to approve the new EPA director. Is the EPA limited at all if they work with an acting director? Can we just give Congress the one finger salute and move on this very limited action?

  7. LCarey says:

    Well, of course Obama trotted out the tough talk in Germany – he was speaking to EUROPEANS! He will say whatever the focus groups tell him his particular audience will respond to positively! He is utterly and completely feckless on this issue and has no more intention than Boehner of, you know, actually DOING anything about it.

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama’s pattern has been to nibble at the problem, stick his finger in the air, and withdraw. Let’s hope he surprises us this time, but there is no reason to be optimistic.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Your Repubs and our LNP show a striking similarity. If you want to see “absolutely crazy”, Tony ‘climate change is crap’ Abbott now has a plan to rapidly develop the top end, ME

  10. catman306 says:

    This is BIG.

    Own your own low power FM station to get out our climate disruption message, a chance to break the MSM monopoly:

    In Historic Victory for Community Radio, FCC Puts 1,000 Low-Power FM Frequencies Up For Grabs

  11. BobbyL says:

    I like the way he emphasized that we need a compact that includes not just some nations. Finding a solution is not about Keystone. It is about a global cap on CO2 emissions (as well as emissions on all greenhouse gases). It doesn’t really matter if the CO2 emissions comes from tar sands oil, conventional oil, coal, or natural gas. The only thing that matters is how much CO2 is emitted from burning fossil fuels. If we can’t get a global cap on carbon that is based on the science and is legally binding and he rejects Keystone we are still cooked.

  12. I wonder if I can put this in the same category as Gov. Jerry Brown of the great state of CA. He gave a speech today to a meeting of union nurses in which he took a similar tack. “Brown said the nurses should use their organizing might to tell the public that the survival of future generations is at risk.

    Read more here: said the nurses should use their organizing might to tell the public that the survival of future generations is at risk.”

    Read more here:

    This is the same Governor Brown who “borrowed” from CA’s Cap and Trade fees to support the state’s general fund rather than to take climate action as was intended in AB 32. His real record on the environment is not any better than the Terminator’s was.

    This is what voting for Democrats as the lesser evil accomplishes.

  13. Henry says:

    You better sharpen up your debunking tools Joe, the Economist has another whopper out today;

    “A Cooling Consensus”

  14. Sasparilla says:

    “This tradition has created a vast space beyond political accountability. When both political parties pursue a nearly identical policy, there are no electoral consequences when the policy proves disastrously wrong. Who do you vote against?”

    From a great article on monitoring that seems rather apt when describing the political reality of federal level climate inaction.

    Here’s the article for folks interested:

  15. I think you’ve got it backwards. Action has to START somewhere. If Obama were to reject Keystone (don’t hold your breath) he would show that the president of the most powerful nation in the world can stand up to pressure from the fossil fuel industry — and that he’s serious about limiting carbon pollution. (Of course, he would promulgate a carbon tax if he were serious about limiting carbon pollution.)

    The climate battle isn’t about nice people coming to a reasonable agreement. If that were true, we would have had binding international agreements on carbon pollution at least a decade ago. But that was all sabotaged — especially here in the U.S. — by special interests.

    So this is a power struggle and change will only be brought about by political confrontation — the people vs. the international oil cartels and their representatives, starting with the neofascist government of Canada — and the only way that will happen is if someone becomes confrontational. Obama is probably not that someone, but the results of his chicken-sh*t dalliance — the rapid onset of climate change — might bring such a leader to the fore.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    The real crazy –
    It’s 85.2 °F in Fairbanks. tonight. Sat. will be 90F as will Sun. If one thinks the high is breaking down, or moving on think again.

  17. Holly Berkowitz says:

    We don’t have time for Boehner and the fossilized energy industry to kill their own childrens’ futures.

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    PM –
    This our real wild card , it’s 85F degrees in Fairbanks tonight. What that does to the hundreds of thousands of years of life frozen in the permafrost is anybody’s guess. I’m thinking of the very small life , what they do is our real fate. Their long sleep is over. And they are coming back into the game of life.

  19. How can money? be worth more than our planet??? This is madness

  20. KXL = half a trillion dollars in damages to society.

    That’s what you get when you multiply 48 years of KXL tarsands oil times the new USA government’s “social cost of carbon” values.

    This is around $100 billion more than if it was conventional oil, because tarsands are 20% more damaging to climate per barrel.

    My chart and article:

  21. idic5 says:

    “We have heard strong words from the president in the past on climate, so like most of you, I will reserve judgment on these remarks. They certainly do not sound compatible with approving the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,”

    Obama has already approved the XL pipeline – the southern run of it. someone correct me if I am wrong on this, but I found this out when I inquired about reports on FB of construction of same and I was told that it was the southen run which this sob Obama approaved. this never gets any play, incredibly, and the current article continues the fiction that we are ‘waiting’ on obama’s decision . I know it is on the northern run, but pls make this clear!

  22. Colorado Bob says:

    The real crazy –
    Singapore Smog Sets Fresh Record

    The three-hour Pollutant Standards Index was reported at 401 at noon local time (0400 GMT) after dipping as low as 94 six hours earlier, according to the National Environment Agency. The noon reading was up from 400 an hour earlier, when it broke the record of 371 set Thursday afternoon.

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    President Obama commits to tough push on global warming

    New York Daily News – ‎10 hours ago‎

    Here’s the question, if he does this do we
    go to the mattresses ?

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    I say yes , to wait for someone better is a fools errand.

  25. Colorado Bob says:

    How do we go to the mattresses ?

    With apps , we go somewhere and we sit down , the apps tell us where . Just like 1963 , but with many more bodies.

  26. Colorado Bob says:

    And uniform message when they haul your ass to jail.

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    We don’t start at lunch counters, we start at airports.

  28. fj says:

    When Obama starts showing extremely aggressive leadership the world will follow and everyone will benefit.

    The laggard minority like those of the GOP will also fall in line.

  29. fj says:

    It is impossible to continue on the current path and we must ramp up immediately to battle climate change at wartime speed.

    There is no other alternative.

  30. Colorado Bob says:

    You just walk in and sit down , that’s it . If you have 60 people , your on the local news, if have 6 people , you’re on your own .

  31. Colorado Bob says:

    Here’s the question, if he does this do we
    go to the mattresses ?

  32. fj says:

    Rapidly accelerating climate change is forcing us to go to mattresses right now.

    It is only by working together with the most aggressive action right now is how we will be able to prevail.

  33. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Bob, we have no idea what is hibernating up there (or in the Antarctic). I remember rumours circulating in Fort McMurray about what was dug up and quickly re-buried because the operators were horrified and made a compact never to speak of it, ME

  34. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    So it’s ‘Live in Hope’ time, yet again. Why am I so cynical?

  35. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Phillip, your depiction of the Harper pathocracy as ‘neo-fascist’, is, in my ‘umble opinion, an insult-to fascists. As for expecting the poor world to rapidly cut emissions when they remain poor, and the rich world grew wealthy by producing the bulk of atmospheric emissions, I see that as just yet another tactic by the rich world to set global disparities of wealth in stone. The poor world will not accept it. The rich world, and the rich elites, must make the biggest sacrifices.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    After a brief stop-over at Fort Detrick for a little ‘re-vitalisation’.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    One Minister from the corrupt Indonesian regime (Suhartoism without Suharto) advised the Singaporeans to stop acting like children. It is good to see that Rightists are more or less the same, everywhere, regardless of race, creed or inside leg measurement.

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sounds like a good tactic. Mind you, judging by the ferocity of police reactions in Turkey and Brazil recently, you’d best be prepared for rougher than usual treatment.

  39. Joe Romm says:

    Truly sad.

  40. fj says:

    Economist article is flatearth class denier drivel.

  41. Most interesting is Boehner’s reaction. The hard right will STILL have that reaction, only more so, even as events devolve.

    Once it’s obvious even to them that the world is in dire trouble, their reaction, befitting reactionaries, will be to blame those on the wrong side of God for the catastrophe.

  42. fj says:

    The flatearth class denier myths are a house of cards which The President must immediately collapse.

    Like the emporor’s new cloths, as we witness daily the increasingly dangerous effects of rapidly accelerating climate change there still seems to be the common delusion that they are not happening now and that they will happen in the distant future when none of us will be around.

    The common knowlege must be that we must act immediately at wartime speed to stop rapidly accelerating climate change happening before our eyes.

  43. fj says:

    Fighting to survive is not crazy..

  44. fj says:

    Extremely dangerous rapidly accelerating climate change is the mother of mass destruction of true biblical proportions starting to go off right now.

  45. Brooks Bridges says: has 62,000 signed up to “Go to the mattresses” if he ok’s KXL.

    “That’s why CREDO is joining with Bold Nebraska, The Other 98%, Hip Hop Caucus, Rainforest Action Network, and Oil Change International to launch the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance.

    It is time for us to pledge to resist. That is, we are asking you to commit – should it be necessary to stop Keystone XL — to engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested. “

  46. BobbyL says:

    Obama is supposed to be unveiling a number of actions to cut emissions in July. Let’s judge him on that first. Those actions are where it has to START. It would be good if he rejects Keystone but even he does approve it progress can still be made. I think at the this time the most important action he can take is to regulate emissions from existing coal plants. I think polls show most Americans support him on that but unfortunately the polls show the public is strongly in favor of Keystone. He can stand up to the fossil fuel industry if he has public support but in the case of Keystone so far he doesn’t so I am not confident he will reject it.

  47. fj says:

    The President must stop talking about a remote future and start talking about right now.

  48. fj says:

    Hiding the dire climate reality, Obama is treating us as dimwits and cowards exposing us to immediate extreme danger that can happen at any time.

  49. fj says:

    On top of a domestic policy of wartime urgency, The President must move the world’s great cities to go net zero in five years or better and work to get the funds for this critical effort.

  50. SecularAnimist says:

    A Change in the Weather wrote: “Most interesting is Boehner’s reaction.”

    I don’t find it very interesting. Boehner is a bought-and-paid-for stooge of the fossil fuel corporations. He’s just regurgitating one of their standard bumper-sticker slogans, which is what he’s paid to do.

  51. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Economist is hard Right, cornutopian, Rightwing neo-liberal agit-prop, perhaps best suited to lining the bottom of a cockies’ cage. On second thoughts, it would probably poison the poor bird.

  52. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sounds like the germ of a good screenplay.

  53. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Boehner reacts when the Kochtopus turns a knob on his control panel, and the electrodes implanted in his ‘brain’ switch on.