Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Politicians Recognize Global Warming: but oil drilling looms

A report was just released by the White House that declares that harmful effects from global warming are already hear and worsening. Now for many of you who have followed this issue, your first response might be "Well, duuuuh." But this is the first climate change report from the current administration and it is the strongest to date emanating from the White House.

"This is not a theoretical thing that will happen 50 years from now," said co-author Anthony Janetos of the University of Maryland. "Things are happening now."

Interestingly, this report was based on a report initiated near the end of the Bush administration who was forced by a lawsuit to produce a draft for Congress that was notably different from their typical dodge-and-weave approach.

Political machines - and, I dare say, humans in general - are inclined to act when disaster is on their doorstep. Proactive or long-term strategies seem to run counter to their nature, so this report is important as it basically states that the ostrich can no longer hide in the sand.

Jane Lubchenco, director of NOAA, says, "This report provides the concrete scientific information that says unequivocally that climate change is happening now and it's happening in our own backyard."

As encouraging as this report might appear as an indication of the current administration's commitment to change, we must still be diligent and even skeptical. Last week, a Senate committee voted to open millions of acres of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. The energy industry is still committed to status quo, expanding a dwindling supply of fossil fuels, and has yet to fully embrace the need and development of alternative energy sources. Therefore, their continued pressure and influence on the political decision makers is as strong as ever.

Oceana.org has some suggestions and steps you can take. Make sure your political representatives know how you feel and let's watch the Obama administration closely to ensure that we get the necessary change that was promised and, more importantly, that the environment needs.

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