Overcoming individual addiction to narcotic substances is never an easy task; resisting our addiction to carbon will prove no easier. However, the sooner we recast the climate issue as a public health problem, akin to drug addiction, the sooner we will be able to fashion effective strategies for averting its worst effects.
In recent years, largely thanks to the dampening effects of the Great Recession, U.S. carbon emissions were in decline (though they grew by 2 percent in 2013). Still, whatever the president may claim, we're not heading toward a "cleaner, safer planet." If anything, we're heading toward a dirtier, more dangerous world.