I would be hard for anyone to deny at this point that the election of soon-to-be-President Obama is anything other than a historic choice. We may not have all voted for him, but our country will soon be moving in a new direction. Burdened though he is with war, global financial crisis, and the other responsibilities that face him as the next President of the United States, he has already begun talking with other nations about amending our broken environmental policy. For everyone that thought Obama was all talk, this should be a clear sign that that is not the case.
That is all a preface to the discussion of how Obama will look at the issues of environmental protection and climate change. I recently found this quote of Obama’s on a post at Treehugger:
I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.
This was in reference to his getting ready to be questioned by a reporter about his personal environmental actions.
So what does this mean? What kind of environmentalist will President Obama be? I don’t think this quote means that Obama doesn’t care about CFLs or consumer choice. I’m sure he already has all CFLs in his home and has done many other things to reduce his personal environmental impact, but, like Al Gore, Obama realizes that global warming is a worldwide problem and can only be dealt with through international cooperation.
That doesn’t mean that we, as individuals, can forget about reducing our energy consumption. What it means is that, like Obama, we need focus on those actions are part of a bigger, collective movement to reduce energy usage and transform the sources from which we draw our energy. In this sense, CFLs are a distraction from the main issues for many people. If Obama were asked about energy issues and answered “yeah, I installed CFLs and put on solar panels” my response would be “but what about legislation banning the construction of new coal plants and mandating increased solar production and installation?”
Obama isn’t the President yet, but when he enters office he will be calling upon everyone in the U.S. and the world to join together to solve this problem. We need to be ready to answer as a group, calling for change and then following through with that change ourselves.
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