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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs