A US report offers a stark warning to the sceptical public

In 2008, Obama claimed – with messianic self-assurance – that his election marked “the moment the rise of the oceans began to slow”

 

Share

A full grasp of the implications of global warming eludes much of the world but it seems to be a particular problem in the United States. A recent survey from Yale revealed that almost a quarter of the US population thinks global warming doesn’t exist. Surveys regularly place tackling climate change near the bottom of voter priorities.

Into this inhospitable climate, President Obama yesterday launched a 1,300-page report on the effect that rising temperatures have already begun to have on the American landscape. Summers are getting longer, and winters shorter. Droughts, rainfall and wild-fires are increasing in duration and ferocity. The message to the American sceptic is clear: you may not yet have seen it, but climate change presents a serious threat in the here-and-now, and we need to something about it.

In 2008, Obama claimed – with messianic self-assurance – that his election marked “the moment the rise of the oceans began to slow”. Over the next four years, however, little was done to keep the waters down: a proposed cap on total C02 emissions did not make it through the Republican-dominated Senate, and after that – at least until Hurricane Sandy made land – the White House went quiet on matters environmental. The discovery of vast quantities of shale gas rather sat on the subject of renewables.

Yet, free from the need to seek re-election, some of the President’s environmental fervour appears to be returning. With little foreseeable support in Congress, he has turned instead to the regulatory powers of the Environmental Protection Agency. The coal industry, already hit by what amounts to a ban on the construction of new coal-based plants, is raising a stink about the upcoming proposal of a limit on emissions from existing power plants.

All this points in the right direction, as does Obama’s willingness to raise the subject of climate change with other world leaders, particularly in China. But the scale of the task exceeds piecemeal regulation. The US offers $4bn of tax incentives a year for producers of fossil fuels; these must, eventually, be scotched. And to achieve the necessary “great reduction” in heat-trapping gasses, a cap on emissions, or carbon tax, will surely be required. The electorate may take time to realise it. But, as this dramatic report makes clear, there is not very much of that left.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Whoever and whatever Arthur was, he wasn’t Scottish

Guy Keleny
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea