News / USA

    Obama Urges Congress to Enact New Climate Law

    Gulf oil spill may be fueling US efforts to finish work on a stalled energy and climate change bill

    Adapting to climate change is no longer an option.  It's a necessity according to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change.
    Adapting to climate change is no longer an option. It's a necessity according to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rosanne Skirble

    The environmental and economic disasters caused by the continuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may be fueling efforts in the U.S. Congress to finish work on a stalled energy and climate change bill.

    Though the House of Representatives passed its version a year ago, the national debates over health care and the economy delayed action in the U.S. Senate. Heightened concerns about America's dependence on fossil fuels may be propelling renewed action on the energy and climate legislation.  

    American Power Act

    Democrat John Kerry and independent Joe Lieberman introduced the American Power Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill's sponsors say that by putting a price on carbon released into the atmosphere, the measure would help reduce America's reliance on fossil fuels and cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

    Debate is expected sometime in the coming months. A Republican-sponsored measure is also in the works.

    In a speech at Carnegie Mellon University, President Obama referred to the Gulf oil spill in making the case that it is time, as he put it, to "aggressively accelerate the nation's transition to a clean energy economy. "

    In crafting the U.S. response to global climate change, the president said congressional lawmakers must take into account the real price of America's heavy reliance on petroleum-based energy.

    "If we refuse to take into account the full costs of our fossil fuel addiction - if we don't factor in the environmental costs and the national security costs and the true economic costs - we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future."

    High costs

    A new report by the PEW Center on Global Climate Change, an independent policy research group, echoes the president's view. But it adds that, even if aggressive policies are put in place to reduce future carbon emissions, steps must be taken now to adapt to greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere; emissions that will continue to pollute the air and affect the earth's climate.

    And who should lead that effort?

    PEW Vice President for Policy Analysis and the report's co-author, Stephen Seidel, says the federal government should lead, as the nation's largest landowner and the guardian of its natural resources, national parks and highways, bridges and dams.  

    "What the federal government does, has a huge impact on where we build in coastal zones, how we farm, what our infrastructure looks like," says Seidel. "And so decisions that federal agencies are making will have an enormous impact in our ability to wisely adapt to climate change."

    Thinking ahead

    The report recommends that all federal agencies begin long-term strategic planning on climate impacts.

    It also recommends a coordinated climate adaptation research program and a national climate service to better inform all levels of government, the private sector, and the general public, about what climate change will mean for them.

    Seidel says, "The first question anyone, when they are told that they have to adapt to climate change, they are going to ask, 'What is that change I have to adapt to?  How much sea level rise?  How much temperature change?  How much change in precipitation are we really talking about?  Seidel says providing that information is a critical element to understanding climate change".  

    The report identifies models for adaptation strategies from other countries.  Seidel says many cities - including New York -  also already have aggressive adaptation plans in place.  

    "[New York] looked at things like where should they locate waste water treatment facilities because of the impacts of climate change, what risks are likely to occur to their subway system because it's underground and already requires enormous pumping of water during certain large rainfall events."

    Seidel says adaption to climate change is no longer an option. It is a necessity.

    He believes that the first priority of any climate bill enacted by Congress must be to put a cap on global warming gases. Unless carbon emissions are brought under control, he says, the challenge of adapting to global climate change will become ever more difficult.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora