Last Tuesday, President Obama stood in front of some of our fellow collegians and gave his highly anticipated speech on climate change. The news media is overly focused on his words about the Keystone Pipeline. It should have been expected that he would walk the line between support and opposition for such a contentious issue. Other aspects of the speech struck me much more.
The speech was inspiring, declaring that Americans have the ingenuity create solutions to climate change and propel our economy forward in the process. He expressed concern over increasingly destructive weather patterns due to climate change. He eloquently stated the need for a “bipartisan, market based solution to climate change.” He described an energy plan that moves towards natural gas, nuclear and renewables. He even claimed the necessity of reducing energy use and ending tax breaks to big oil companies.
The key words in the paragraph above are: declaring, expressed, stated, described and claimed. Obama has said a lot of inspiring things like when he was running for president and expressed his skepticism and disdain for public monitoring programs, such as the NSA. We all see how well that has worked out.
It may never come true, but the best part of Obama’s speech was when he called for a bipartisan solution to the pressing environmental problems, like climate change, that our nation faces. He effectively pointed out that environmental concern has not always been a divisive and polarizing issue. In 1970, the Senate passed the Clean Air Act unanimously and the House of Representatives passed it 375 to 1. A Republican president signed it into law. Protecting the land that we love, depend on, and are obliged to protect was once a bipartisan issue. If anything in Obama’s speech comes to fruition, I hope it is that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground in the necessity of solving the environmental crises of our time. A sustainable future can only be created with a combination of wise presidential leadership and a spirit of compromise between all the diverse groups of the United States.