On Tuesday, President Obama will make a speech outlining his administration’s plans to address climate change. The Right Wing has already responded by calling those concerned with climate change “Terrorists.” How have the progressive and left wings responded? Badly. Very badly. Here is a selection, some paraphrased to ensure anonymity (though these are all public), of comments by people that I know are well meaning climate change activists or otherwise concerned about global warming and such.

  • Obama’s speeches and verbal plans make no difference. It’s what he DOES that counts.

  • He’ll say: “I will see to it that the State Dept. will approve the XL Pipeline so nothing else I’ve said means shit”

  • If his past proclamations are indicative don’t expect much action.

  • Don’t hold your breath. He wont do a thing that would make the Oil guys uphappy

  • Or these strong words and some targeted actions in the near term will allow him to OK Keystone XL

  • NOTHING will happen under Wbama’s “leadership”. He IS a shill for the CorpoRats.

  • politicians. They are parasites

Some of these statements, maybe all of them, express perfectly legitimate concerns. The thing is, of all the statements I’ve seen on public media in response to this announcement, almost all of them are of this type. Hardly anyone has said:

“Great, let’s find out what President Obama is going to push for, and make sure he understands that we activists will strongly support this, and work towards those goals.”

In fact, we need to do more than that. I assure you of the following: President Obama and his people both in the White House and in the political machine are watching. If they see strong and effective support for initiatives announced on Tuesday, this will give them a clue that if the administration ends up nixing Keystone XL, that they will get support for that as well.

Or, they could see a lot of belly aching and whining like we are seeing so far, and not gain the resolve they would need to have in order to do the right thing on Keystone.

Having said that, I don’t want to give you the impression that this is all about Keystone. It is about whatever it is that is announced. Regardless of Keystone, we want better and more effective regulations on coal burning plants, even if Ben Stein sees fit to call those of us who want that “terrorists.” Regardless of Keystone, we want far more effort put into developing alternatives and renewables. Regardless of Keystone, we want new efficiency standards. And so on.

It might be true that the Obama administration has done much less than we would like about climate change. I say “might” because I’m thinking that you’re thinking that the Obama administration has done nothing at all, and you’d be wrong. They’ve actually done things, and perhaps you just don’t know about them. It is also true (no qualification here) that we are concerned that the Obama administration will not nix Keystone XL. But, again (OK, so there is a qualification) you might be thinking that the delay in addressing Keystone means that they are just putting off the bad news, and Obama fully intends to support it. In that case, you would be wrong again; we simply do not know what is going to happen with Keystone, and the delay is not (necessarily) a political strategy, but rather, more or less, process. You can pretend there is no process but there is one.

Here’s the thing: In a couple of days from now, President Obama is going to announce some things. These will be good things. You might not think they are good enough, you might think they mean nothing if Keystone is not addressed, you might think all sorts of other things. But, if you are actually, truly, interested in addressing climate change and concerned about global warming and our planet’s future, not to mention our species’ future, then you will need to get over yourself.

This is not about you and your dissatisfaction with the government, politicians, Washington, or a particular president. So, please stop making this about you. Make this about the planet, and the future, and our children’s future. In order to prepare yourself for this, I offer the following evaluative quiz:

TODAY’S QUIZ. (Fill in the blank/multiple choice)

People interested in serious, effective climate change activism will take what happens on Tuesday and _________

Select only one answer to complete this statement:

  • a) whine and moan about Obama

  • b) carry out the most effective possible actions to increase the likelihood that pro-environment and pro-energy efficiency and anti-global warming initiatives come to fruition, which might involve fighting congress, will involve fighting the deniers, and will involve fighting the oil companies.

Correct answer: b

Listen: The right wing is already off the mark. They are running full steam down the field intent on intercepting this particular pass. Meanwhile, the progressives are sitting on the bench crying in their beers and feeling sorry for themselves. This is not good, and frankly, it is more than a little embarrassing.

Time to put on the big boy pants, people! When opportunity knocks, that is not a cue to complain about the door knocker.

You might consider signing this petition.

Comments

  1. #1 Nescio
    June 24, 2013

    Let us look at his accomplishments
    1 Blocking investigation into the torture regime, reversed stance after he was elected
    2 Blocking investigation into the crimes of the financial sector, reversed stance after he was elected
    3 Refusing to act on Guantanamo, reversed stance after he was elected
    4 Expanding the “Big Brother” policies of mr Bush, reversed stance after he was elected

    Given this I think it is more than reasonable to be slightly sceptical of the things he says, as history shows us he time and again does the exact opposite.

    Infact, to day the default position should be to reject what President Obama says and assume he will do the opposite of what he promises.

  2. #2 Obstreperous Applesauce
    June 24, 2013

    Mmmm, yeah. We should be adult about this. However people on the left should have been pressuring Obama from the outset of his fist administration. Instead it was all “Shut- up and let him do his job so we can lounge around.”

    In that context, the immature and bitter whining is almost a step forward insofar as it’s a recognition that things didn’t turn out to be as idyllIc as fantasized.

  3. #3 Jan Freed
    June 24, 2013

    Generally I agree with Greg.

    Obama has asked us to “push us for change”.

    I am a member of Citizens Climate Lobby (cititzensclimatelobby.org). We write op-eds, letters to editors, editorials, meet with Congresspeople and their staff, demonstrate against Keystone Sludge Line, and inform ourselves.

    These actions strike me as constructive. Please join us.

  4. #4 Jan Freed
    June 24, 2013

    Also, Obama has taken serious (!) strides in turning things around. See

    http://nymag.com/news/features/obama-climate-change-2013-5/index1.html

    Anyone who would grease the wheels for a Republican (e.g. the next Romney) victory out of misguided pique or zeal is certifiably insane.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    June 24, 2013

    Nescio, this relates to climate how?

  6. #6 Nescio
    June 25, 2013

    This relates to your trust in Obama regarding Climate change. Mine is a general observation regarding how much we should listen to this man, regardless of the topic.

    I sincerely hope he acts on it, yet as I pointed out his “yes, we can” invariably turns into “no, I won’t.”

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    United States
    June 25, 2013

    Nescio, let’s say you needed a rope to save your life. And there is this guy with a rope. But he has done things you don’t like. But you can steal the rope from him without him knowing it or stopping you or having any other bad effects (he doesn’t really need the rope). By you logic you would not steal the rope.

    Steal the rope.

  8. #8 Chris Winter
    June 30, 2013

    Some of the things President Obama has done to mitigate the effects of climate change:

    * Raised CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards after a long period of no improvement.
    * Permitted states to set still more stringent standards.
    * Reorganized the Minerals Management service, ending a cozy relationship between it and regulated industries.
    * Sixty billion dollars in spending and tax incentives for clean energy.

    See the full list here or Google for more lists.

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