I'm knee-deep in reading the draft version of the U.S. National Climate Assessment,
released last Friday. If last year's record number of wildfires, droughts and
extreme heat days, not to mention the devastation of superstorm Sandy, didn't
convince you of the dangers of a destabilizing climate, then perhaps this
several-hundred page report from 240 of the country's top climate scientists
To quote one of Barack Obama's favorite singer/songwriters: "It's
not dark yet, but it's getting there." Fortunately, although the science
of climate disruption is undeniably scary, there's still time to turn the
corner and put this nation on a path to meet the emissions reductions we need
to avoid catastrophe.
Here's the challenge. In his first term, President Obama did
more than any other president to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and scale up
clean energy. But his administration is far from realizing its potential for
strong action. In fact, the president has considerable authority that he has
not yet fully used to help our country build a clean energy economy.
That's why today the Sierra Club is launching the Obama
Climate and Clean Energy Legacy Campaign -- a joint effort across our campaigns
to demand that the president tackle climate disruption with all the authority,
determination and ambition he can muster. Between now and Earth Day, we'll
focus on 100 Days of Action to set the tone for this term's critical first
year. We and our allies will host events across the country calling on the
president to lead in this fight. The biggest of these, in Washington, D.C., on
February 17, is shaping up to be the largest climate rally in American history.
At this point, there's no longer any question what
President Obama should do. He should do everything he can. It is fair to ask,
though, exactly what we think that is.
It's a lot. Here are five ways the president can lay the
foundation today for a lasting legacy of climate action and clean energy:
- Hold fossil fuel polluters accountable for their pollution.
- Reject proposals to import dirty fuels like tar sands and stop the rush of fossil fuel exports, including liquefied natural gas export facilities and new coal export terminals.
- Double down on clean energy, with innovative financing and investment avenues for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
- Protect communities from future climate disasters and plan a robust and just response for those that do happen.
- Protect our lands, water and wildlife from the impacts of fossil fuel development and climate disruption.
In the first months of his second term, President Obama will
make many decisions that affect the climate future of this nation and the rest
of the planet. We cannot afford to let him make the wrong ones. Join us in
demanding that he take a stand and make tackling climate disruption a top priority of his second term.
Follow Michael Brune on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bruneski