President Obama's inaugural address today was the best speech I've heard from him in a long time.
He clearly stated that we all have a moral and ethical responsibility to our children and all future generations to address climate change.
I might be overly optimistic, but he also made “responding to the threat of climate change” the very context for this coming term. I hope this means that it will define policies on jobs and energy, because the economy will be strengthened and thousands of jobs can be created by meaningfully addressing the issue.
In addition, the President made climate change a challenge that “we the people” of America are ready for, and will win. This is incredibly important. For far too long talk about climate change has been framed in depressing rather than positive ways. We need the can-do, optimistic perspective on this issue that the President offered.
And, the President's comment about engaging all Americans in their communities is equally important. A tremendous amount can be done to prepare for and build resilience to climate impacts and reduce emissions if the issue is “de-federalized” for the time being. By engaging people in solutions at the household, businesses, and community level, many Americans will move beyond questions about climate science. This type of engagement will circle back and put pressure on Congress to act.
The Climate Summit 2013 Coalition, which I have been involved in as coordinator of the National Climate Ethics Campaign has proposed that the President hold a kick-off solutions-focused Presidential Summit on climate change linked with action-planning satellite meetings in communities nationwide. The coalition believes that engaging all American's in climate solutions is essential now—especially because it seems doubtful that meaningful legislation will pass through Congress in the next two years. We urge everyone who agrees with this perspective and supports the proposal to sign the petition found on the Climate Summit 2013 website.
The President made it clear that addressing climate change is now one of his top priorities. It must now become a top priority for every American as well. We have the know-how, skills, and tools to address the issues. And the benefits, from cost-savings to new jobs to increased public health and more, are unbounded. The next four years can be one of the most exciting in American history, with tremendous innovation and creative new ideas emerging at all levels of our society. Let's all engage in the challenge.
Bob Doppelt is the executive director of The Resource Innovation Group and coordinator of the National Climate Ethics Campaign.