In The Obama Administration, Two Incompatible Faces On Climate Change

Is Climate Change such a high priority for President Obama as he sometimes claims it to be, and for what reasons exactly?

Apparently, US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is convinced that “a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combat global warming“. So for Chu the course of action is to change on Energy in order to deal with Global Warming. In other words _the_ problem is Global Warming, and Energy just a means to solve it.

In truth, though, Chu is (still?) not the person taking “the key decisions on energy and climate change policy“. That is in the hands of a restricted group headed by the “politically savvyCarol Browner, an Al Gore’s “acolyte” and President Obama’s Climate Czar.

Browner believes that climate change is “the greatest challenge ever faced“, so we are back to Chu’s stance.

However, there are still all indications that the President himself takes a different approach, considering Climate Change as just one part of the wider issue of Energy, and not viceversa. For Obama himself, in other words, _the_ problem is how to get a safeguarded and stable supply of Energy, and Climate Change just a politically useful, additional reason to push for it.

As an example to support the above, take the President’s speech at Costa Mesa Town Hall Meeting, last March 18. The one and only mention of climate change is in an undescript part of the full text, and just as a corollary to the Energy problem. It is so tiny, I am underlining the relative sentence to make it stand out:

Because we know that enhancing America’s competitiveness will also require reducing our dependence on foreign oil and building a clean energy economy, this budget will spark the transformation we need to create green jobs and launch renewable energy companies right here in California.  It makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy.

It invests in technologies like wind power and solar power and fuel-efficient cars and trucks powered by batteries like the ones I’ll be seeing in Rosemead tomorrow, all of which will also help combat climate change — because the weather is already nice in Orange County, we don’t want it to get warmer.

Just as interestingly, there is talk about Energy but no Global Warming or Climate Change even when the President makes a list of upcoming challenges

Well, I say our challenges are too large to ignore.  The cost of health care is too high to ignore.  The dependence on oil is too dangerous to ignore.  Our education deficit is too wide to ignore.

What will Czarine Browner think of the above?

Politically, the situation appears to be on the edge of untenable: if they really believe in what they are saying, Gore’s “acolytes” will not be able to accept being simply a “side-show”, subordinate to Energy. And if the President wants to carry forward the “Yes, we can” mantra, there will be no much space left to the doomers and gloomers. As I wrote last November:

Climate Change has been explicitly presented time and again as “THE challenge for the present generation” by the likes of Al Gore. Well, Barack Obama’s “Change” is enough of a generational challenge in itself, much bigger than Climate Change and perfectly capable to outlive it