President Obama’s environmental policies are, without a doubt, an enormous improvement over Bush’s. He’s given more money to the Environmental Protection Agency, made climate change a major part of his agenda, and boosted environmental protections in numerous ways. But will it be enough to save us? Author Hervé Kempf (How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth) doesn’t think so. It’s a good start, but he needs the wind of a powerful and vocal grassroots movement in his sails if we are serious about saving ourselves, our environment, and our future.
A great change? Incontestably. Of direction? Yes. Radical? May the wrath of the Obamaniacs strike this chronicler! The answer is: no. In his speech, Mr. Obama mentions the environmental question almost in passing, reducing it to climate change. On other occasions, he had announced that his goal was to reduce his country’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGE) in 2050 by 80 percent. That major choice is forgotten in the February 24 speech. Only the goal of developing renewable energies – motivated primarily by the desire to reduce dependence on imported oil – and the CO2 market remained. “We will double the nation’s production of renewable energy in three years.” To the extent economic reality allows such a development, it will make the share of (non-waterpower) renewable energy in the United States’ total energy production go from 6 percent (most of which is from bio-fuels) to 12 percent. That’s significant, but not really game-changing.
Mr. Obama did not say, nor even suggest, to his fellow citizens – the world’s top GGE emitters – that their energy consumption will have to be considerably reduced. Perhaps it’s not yet possible for a political official to say that the hour for sobriety has arrived. In fact, the great majority of those officials seem to believe that by replacing oil with solar panels and windmills, the “American Way of Life” may perpetuate itself. That forgets both energy cost and the environmental crisis.