As a non-American I don’t have much of a connection with the State of the Union speech of the President, but this year I was really curious about what would be mentioned about the climate. When reading the transcript the speech, I recognized several items as in the opinion piece of Michael Mann in the NY Times.
This is the climate related part from the address:
Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.
There were some similarities between the two that caught my eye:
…we have to act with more urgency…
Just as the Mann opinion, there was the urgency appeal. Basically being said was that the USA accomplished a lot on carbon, ahem, pollution since eight years. Indeed, since 2007 carbon dioxide went down. But apparently that isn’t enough. Which is a remarkable thing to say in the light of increasing criticism on climate models, a lowered value of climate sensitivity, less certainty about extreme events, the standstill in global temperatures,… All those would decrease urgency, not increase it. But, of course, it is a nice political motivational tool.
…a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought…
The Mann’s opinion didn’t mention floods, but did mention forest fires (which don’t seem to increase in number or area).
It is quite a certain statement. How many scientists did positively attributed, not assumed, those events to climate change?
…the debate is settled.
Nice to hear. Is that the debate in which skeptics are not allowed to participate? In that case the claim is indeed entirely correct, not because the science is settled, but because skeptics are excluded from it.
Climate change is a fact.
Well, I agree with that. Climate changes. Many skeptics agree with that. But that is not the issue. The issue is how much of that change is on the account of anthropogenic causes. Especially in the light of the failure of the models and the standstill the answer could be very interesting.
…when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world…
That is a downright appeal to the emotions. It assumes that our actions can make a safer and stable world. Even the IPCC refuses to link extreme weather to climate change, yet the writer of this part surely has an other opinion about that. As if the world was more stable before before 1980s.
Just the idea that politicians have the power to “fix” the climate. Wow, do they really have that kind of power? 😉