A green tint to Obama's inaugural address
In his call to "begin again the remaking of America" in his inaugural address Tuesday, President Barack Obama placed a high priority on energy, climate, and the stark inequalities in consumption between rich and poor nations.
In his call to "begin again the remaking of America" in his inaugural address Tuesday, President Barack Obama placed a high priority on energy, climate, and the stark inequalities in consumption between rich and poor nations.Skip to next paragraph
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That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood…. [E]ach day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet. ...
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do. ...
With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you ...
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
Of course, it was for lines like these that the phrase "easier said than done" was invented. President Obama seeks to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years. Some of this money would go toward trying to ensure that 10 percent of US electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. Some of it would go into modernizing more than three-fourths of all federal buildings and improving the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes. Other funds would help put 1 million plug-in hybrids on the roads (think of a Prius whose battery can also be charged from an electrical outlet). And some of the money would help enact a nationwide cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
No recent president made energy and the environment such a centerpiece of his inaugural speech, not even Jimmy Carter, who burned much of his political capital, not to say cardigans, struggling to rejig America’s energy habits. President Nixon did twice mention “a cleaner environment,” but then he also created the EPA. Neither Presidents Bush, nor President Clinton, nor President Reagan, had a single word to say about energy or the environment in their combined seven inaugural speeches.