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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

 
A tremendous speech from the President on climate change

by David Atkins

By the time you read this, news from the Supreme Court on DOMA and other issues will likely have stolen the headlines. But President Obama delivered a gripping, almost radical speech on climate change yesterday. It's worth watching in full:



The text of the speech is too long to repost here, but it's worth reading in full. Here's a small excerpt from the end:

But I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society. (Cheers, applause.) Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here.

Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future. And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers. That’s what the American people expect. That’s what they deserve. And someday our children and our children’s children will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could, when we had the chance, to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world? And I want to be able to say, yes, we did. Don’t you want that?

Americans are not a people who look backwards. We’re a people who look forward. We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it.

What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up and speak up and compel us to do what this moment demands. Understand, this is not just a job for politicians. So I’m going to need all of you, to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends.

Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future. (Applause.)

Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. (Applause.) Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. (Applause.) Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.

And remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote! Make yourself heard on this issue. (Cheers, applause.)

I understand the politics will be tough. The challenge we must accept will not reward us with a clear moment of victory. There’s no gathering army to defeat. There’s no peace treaty to sign. When President Kennedy said we’d go to the moon within the decade, we knew that we’d build a space ship and we’d meet the goal.

Our progress here will be measured differently, in crises averted, in a planet preserved. But can we imagine a more worthy goal? For while we may not live to sea the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be — be better off for what we did.

It makes you realize, that astronaut said all those years ago, just what you have back there on Earth.

And that image in the photograph, that bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface containing everything we hold dear, the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity, that’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if we remember that, I’m absolutely sure we’ll succeed.
If that all just sounds like pretty words, consider that Chris Hayes is more than a little impressed:



Why? Because to talk about divestment from fossil fuel is to put the moral imperative behind climate change on a par with the moral imperative to end apartheid in South Africa, the most famous example of a successful divestiture movement. That's why the Ventura County Democratic Party of which I'm Chair and CDP Environmental Caucus Chair RL Miller is Secretary, became the first county Democratic party in the nation to vote for a resolution calling for divestiture from fossil fuels. It's a strong moral action that also puts a hit in their pocketbooks.

Of course, it remains to be seen just what executive actions the President will take on climate. The President has often given great speeches, only to be followed by weak action. But if the Executive's actions match the moral imperative expressed in this speech, there's much to be hopeful for.


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