U.S. Senator John Kerry, former presidential candidate and leading senatorial democrat, has come out saying that global warming is a threat to U.S. security. Why? It leaves military hubs vulnerable to rising sea levels and runs the risk of fueling anti-American sentiment around the world. I didn't expect military-focused fear mongering from Senator Kerry, so I'm kind of impressed with this outburst.
Congress is currently debating several versions of a climate change bill with a focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, though admittedly by less than what other countries are asking for the U.S. to do. Kerry is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so this obviously weighs on his mind- it's basically his job to manage the levels of anti-Americanism in the world. I would say Kerry is pretty right on in thinking that just about every developing country will hate America a little more if climate change causes havoc in their country- the floods, heat waves, and droughts that are the expected effects of climate change, and in some cases are already happening, aren't going to make anyone into a fan of America and industrialization, that's for sure. As Kerry so deftly pointed out, climate change may hit hardest in Southeast Asia, "the center of our terrorist threat."
As a quick aside- since when is Southeast Asia the center of our terrorist threat? Kerry may be showing his age on that one. Or maybe just throwing in terrorism and center and threat as good words to get people to listen. Fear is a powerful social currency.
While Kerry does his thing, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu also does his. Chu launched the "Low Carbon Communitieis of the Americas" earlier this Spring, following an agreement by presidents a the 5th Summit of the Americas agreed to work together on green energy issues. The Obama administration has been and continues to be in favor of renewable energy and related technologies.
Chu told participants at the event in Peru's capital:
"The cities of our hemisphere are growing rapidly. How these cities develop will determine the carbon footprint for the region for generations to come. We must pursue energy efficiency as aggressively as possible for both economic and environmental reasons. Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way of combating climate change."
Chu focused on urban planning utilizing modern materials, suggesting an increased use of white/light colors for roofing and pavement.
"So-called cool roofs and cool pavements can reduce air conditioning bills, make our homes and cities more comfortable in hot weather, and offset greenhouse gas emissions by reflecting more sunlight back into space instead of trapping that heat in the atmosphere," he said.
Um, I'm into it Stephen, but is that really what you've got?
And then of course there is President Barack Obama who has, seemingly, the most to gain by being an outspoken advocate and change agent in the climate change arena. In much the same way that Teddy Roosevelt is known as the father of the National Park System, FDR the father of the New Deal, and JFK the father of the Space Program, Obama has the timing and angle to become a sort of Climate Change father figure. His policies in the U.S. will be the first to set the course for the U.S. And with the Kyoto Protocol being re-examined in December, he could close out 2009 with some dramatic and effective political action at the Copenhagen Summit. We'll see. For now, he is focusing on protecting the oceans around U.S. borders and the Great Lakes from overfishing, pollution and climate change. He has designated June as National Oceans Month.
"The oceans are critical to supporting life. The base of the oceanic ecosystem provides most of the oxygen we breathe, so oceans are critical to our survival," Obama said in a statement.
He has also created a task force whose role it is to recommend national policy to protect and restore the ocean and Great Lakes regions. In 90 days. Ambitious but in the right way. He is a politician, and like I said, he will arrive at Copenhagen with a national resource plan ready to go for our water resources and system. Good move.
So there it is- John Kerry, the U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, and President Barack Obama. I haven't heard people in the government talking about one thing from so many angles since terrorism in 2001. Hopefully we mobilize on the same level.