Tell President Obama to Discuss Climate Change In His State of the Union

Written by Brad Johnson

On January 24, President Obama will address Congress and the nation on the state of the union, with the chance to stir this country to action on the existential threat of climate change. Obama has the responsibility to seize the moment and finally explain to the American people the great mobilization of resources and will that protecting our homeland from a poisoned climate requires.

In a tweet to ThinkProgress Green, White House Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson promised that he would personally tell Obama that people believe he needs to talk about the science of climate change in his State of the Union address:

If Obama does make clear that the nation’s prosperity is already being damaged by the first glimmers of the coming onslaught of climate change, it will mark a dramatic departure from the past. Each year of his presidency, as more Americans suffered and died from the consequences of climate pollution, Obama’s discussion of global warming in his State of the Union addresses has withered.

In his 2009 address, he spoke of the need to “save our planet from the ravages of climate change” through “legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.” As the climate bill stalled in the Senate that year, Obama went silent. “Thus far, he has neglected to use his bully pulpit to hammer a climate science message home, thereby helping to fuel skepticism about climate science and lend support to the building backlash against the policies he favors,” climate blogger Andrew Freedman wrote in September 2009. After Obama made a major speech calling for health care reform, climate hawks hoped he would explain to Americans the need for the climate bill held up in the Senate.

In the 2010 State of the Union, he said only he wanted to advance a “comprehensive climate and energy bill,” but then the White House avoided the subject.

I’m just not sure how you do a response to climate change if you can’t really say the words ‘climate change,’” wrote Ezra Klein in June 2010.

In last year’s State of the Union address, Obama avoided any mention of climate change, spurring dismay from climate hawks. At Grist, David Roberts called the omission a “moral failure, a failure of leadership, but also, I would argue, a political failure.”

A textual analysis of State of the Union addresses found that Obama mentions climate change far less than President Bill Clinton ever did, and less even than President George W. Bush. “From a political viewpoint, it is clear that Obama is not talking about climate change,” Robert Brulle wrote. “In my opinion, this approach has several major drawbacks, and effectively locks in massive and potentially catastrophic global climate change.” Bill Becker even wrote an entire sample speech on the climate challenge for the president.

There are many other climate hawks Obama could follow — in the past year, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Australia Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka have delivered compelling speeches on the mandate for action to fight the greatest threat of this generation to human civilization.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

Take Action: Tell President Obama you want him to address climate change in his State of the Union address!


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Matt S.
Matt S.6 years ago

Extinctions escalate, the ocean acidifies, our representation is being stolen away, and our president will not make these new kings stand down. The bonds of regulation have slipped loose, the opportunity is slipping away, and the America we knew is all but gone—in the hands of new policy makers that pollute our drinking water, kill our cattle, destroy our property values, kill tourism, and lobby to mine, drill, and cut in our national parks. They lobby to nullify the Bill of Rights. This president has failed to stand up, failed to protect our rights, our water, our land...our world. It's nothing short of cowardice. Perhaps our grandchildren will read about the real threats being issued to our president, if freedom of the press is ever restored in the nation that gave it birth.

Sonny Cook
Liz C7 years ago

Anyone truly knowledgable knows that leadership all over the world is quite aware of the realities of climate change. It's a shame that denial is so ginned up for use as a political tool in the US, but that shouldn't stop real leadership on the issue.

Don I.
Don I7 years ago

What a bunch of alarmists. Climate change has been happening since the beginning of time, and there is NOTHING anyone can do about it. I find it very interesting that all you Gore, "Global Warming" kooks have now changed your wording to "Climate Change" instead. The Earth itself, puts out about 97% of all carbon emissions. In fact, without huge amounts of carbon, life could not exist on earth. Earth also emits about 93% of all atmospheric pollution. IF ALL MAN_MADE carbon and pollution emmissions were to cease, we would still have "Climate Change", with periods of "Global Warming" and "Global Cooling". There is absolutely nothing we can do to change the effects of "Climate Change". With the recent years of cooling taking place, I guess your use of Global Warming doesn't fit too well any more. But fear not, ... there will be global warming again in the not to distant future.

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence7 years ago

Climate change -- a must ..make these non-believers believers!

Leah H.
Leah H7 years ago

Dr. C - oh, god, we are in the grip of a hostile take-over of government at all levels funded by none other than the sociopaths in chief, the Koch boys. Why doesn't a twister land on THEIR house? Is there no justice?

Leah H.
Leah H7 years ago

After the weather last year, almost any fool can see that weather is far less predictable than it was in the past. He needs to put the issue in plain, simple English and he needs to do it NOW.

Ann Breeden
Ann Breeden7 years ago

I would love to see him talk about climate change. It's real and every day that goes by there are more carbon emissions being poured into our environment that are sending us toward the abyss.One thing that we can all do is in November check out who's running for office that cares about the environment and wants to take steps to save it.

Dr Clue
Dr Clue7 years ago

climate change denial being legislated into school curriculums

Some states have introduced education standards requiring teachers to defend the denial of man-made global warming. A national watchdog group says it will start monitoring classrooms.,0,2808837.story

Rudolf Affolter
Past Member 7 years ago

The President needs to act swiftly and desicively rather than just uttering meaningless words. And I speak as an admirer of President Obama from over the water.

Wendy B.
Wendy B7 years ago

He should instead talk about pollution and the need to reduse it, not just climate change. There is so much wrong with what business gets away with that is harming all of us. He should talk about renewables and how we should concentrate on that to get away from the dirty fossill fuels that have caused so many problems.