Coming off the warmest year in American history, and with the Northeast still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, President Obama boldly called for climate action during his second inaugural address on Monday.
The president put global warming front and center in his speech, saying “we will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Then, acknowledging the 97 percent of climate scientists who agree that humans are causing global warming — while also taking a shot at the congressional Republicans who deny man-made global warming – the president said “some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” Obama then made a compelling call for American leadership on climate change, saying “the path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.”
The National Memo asked several climate experts about their impressions of President Obama’s surprisingly aggressive call for climate action and what they would like to see happen in his second term, along with their predictions for what will likely happen.
Climate experts interviewed for this story include Dr. Kathleen Miller from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, Dr. Aiguo Dai, associate professor of climate science in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of Albany-SUNY, and Harvard professor Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program and chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group.
Miller perhaps summed up best what was on the minds of many climate scientists following the president’s speech when she told us that “it’s about high time someone at the top level of national government takes this seriously.”
Here are five ways the president can address climate change in his second term.
Photo credit: Rob Carr via Associated Press