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BREAKING RumINT: Obama to host Climate Summit (?)

January 9th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Guardian is reporting that President Obama is “seriously considering” hosting a climate summit.

Barack Obama may intervene directly on climate change by hosting a summit at the White House early in his second term

If this is true, that the White House staff is prepping up a “broad-based and bipartisan summit to launch a national climate action strategy”, this would be a tangible step in the President’s declared intent to foster a national discussion about climate change.

With the facts in that 2012 was the hottest year in recorded US temperature records (by a full degree fahrenheit), with Governor Christie (and other politicians and suffering citizens from the Mid-Atlantic) calling for action for disaster relief for Sandy, and in the flickering shadow from the light of the fires burning up Australia amid the #BigAussieHeat, now — today — might be a good time to announce such a move.

Before we get too excited about the potential, a necessary note of cause. This story, reported by Suzanne Goldenbergn (the Guardian’s US environment correspondent), is highly dependent on the perspectives of environmental organizations and environmentally-focused donors. Thus, amid the reading of ‘tea leaves’ and ‘tarot cards’, one might wonder whether this is people taking hope from small signs and reading between the lines in comments. From another angle, perhaps the nominee for Secretary of State — John Kerry — is bringing his passionate concern for climate issues to the table, already even amid preparations for confirmation hearings, and is working to get the President to move forward with a ‘climate conversation’.

Of course, with the gerrymandered structure of the House of Representatives placing inordinate power in the hands of anti-science syndrome suffering haters of a livable economic system, the ‘battle’ for meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation will not be ‘won’ with calm negotiations with House committee chairmen. And, the discussions seem to be going on with that as clearly understood.

“What we talked about with the White House is using it as catalyst not just for the development of a national strategy but for mobilising people all over the country at every level,” said Bob Doppelt, executive director of the Resource Innovation Group, the Oregon-based thinktank that has been pushing for the high-level meeting. He said it would not be a one-off event.

“What I think has excited the White House is that it does put the president in a leadership role, but it is not aimed at what Congress can do, or what he can do per se, so much as it is aimed at apprising the American public about how they can act.”

There is a simple reality: Climate Change mitigation and adaptation, to the extent it can be effective, cannot simply be about “apprising the American public about how they can act” in their own lives. We cannot “solve” climate change through individual actions. We must have policy and larger structure shifts — as well. E.g., targeting to educate people about compact flourescent bulbs might be a nice (cute) adjunct to a more fundamental message (as it was an example of the inadequate ‘what can you do’ at the end of An Inconvenient Truth), but it should not be a core part of a White House “bipartisan summit”.

We need more fundamental discussion and education about the seriousness of the problem, about the real potential for value from addressing the situation, and about the real measures that must be taken — in individual lives, by communities, by businesses, and — yes — even by government(s) — to provide any meaningful climate mitigation to foster a greater chance of preventing our leaping off the catastrophic climate chaos cliff.

“The clock is ticking. The threat is urgent, and we would like to see a commitment in time for the president to address it in the State of the Union address,” [Jeremy Symons, senior vice-president for conservation and education at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)] said. “That would be the window I see. We can’t wait forever.”

Yes, the clock is ticking.

And, we might be one minute from midnight.

It is past time for the summit. We have been waiting for serious climate leadership.

“We can’t wait forever.”

See the article for more environmental group discussion.


1. There are already some ‘enviro’ concepts of what should be in the SOTU re climate change. From something that I wrote last month:

Twenty minutes into the 2013 State of the Union Address, President Obama turns to look to Speaker Boehner.

After a long pause, begins to speak forcefully about the nation’s need to take climate change science seriously.

The President tells the American people that he has been meeting with scientists and energy experts for the past two months privately.

That these experts have made a forceful case that the climate situation is far more serious than he had realized.

The President explains that they have convinced him not just of the seriousness of the situation but that we still have the opportunity to turn this existential threat into opportunity.

The President speaks to this point, extemporaneously, for over ten minutes — this was not included in the prepared remarks.

This is the President speaking – not a speechwriter not the collective wisdom of political appointees from across the Administration, but President Obama who evokes his daughters, with tears, in his remarks about the need to protect our grandchildren, our children, and even ourselves.

Anthony Leiserowitz (Yale) on a recent Bill Moyers segment

BILL MOYERS: So if the president asks you to suggest what he should say, to send him a draft of what he should say about climate change in his upcoming State of the Union message, what would you urge him to do?

ANTHONY LEISEROWITZ: I would ask him to do two things. One is to say I have consulted with the nation’s leading climate scientists including the National Academy of Sciences which exists to guide the nation on science and science policy. And they all tell me, all of them tell me that this is real, that it’s human caused, it’s a serious problem but that we have the solutions in hand to do it. So, one, I would want him to carry that message.

But the second thing I would like to hear him say is that this issue has to stop being a partisan issue. The climate — the earth’s climate does not care whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t care whether you’re liberal or conservative. Sandy did not only destroy the homes of Democrats and not Republicans.

The terrible drought that has gripped the Great Plains and our nation’s bread basket has not only gone after liberal farmers and ranchers, it’s gone after all of us. The point is that climate change will affect all Americans no matter what your political beliefs, your religious beliefs, your race, class, creed, et cetera, okay. And in the end the only way we’re going to deal with this issue is if we come together as a county and have a serious conversation not about is it real, but what can we do about it, okay. And I think that the effort to try to de-politicize this issue so it doesn’t just become this knee-jerk– identity politics: I’m a Democrat, therefore I believe in climate change, I’m a Republican, therefore I think climate change is a hoax. This is crazy, okay. I mean, again the climate system doesn’t care.

Note 2: In the world of ‘acronyms’, INT refers to “intelligence” in the defense world.

  • SIGINT = Signals Intelligence.
  • HUMINT = Human Intelligence.
  • ELINT = Electronics Intelligence.
  • RUMINT? RUMINT = Rumors Intelligence
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Tags: climate change · Obama Administration

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