Inauguration 2013 speech: Obama puts energy, climate change in spotlight

During his Inauguration 2013 address Monday, President Obama made a case for clean-energy innovation and curbing climate change. His Inauguration 2013 speech recalled the views on the environment and energy policy that the president espoused in his first inaugural address.

Evan Vucci/AP/Pool
President Barack Obama shakes hands as he leaves after the ceremonial swearing-in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday. The promise of sustainable energy sources, the president said in his inauguration 2013 address, "will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

In his Inauguration 2013 address Monday, President Obama may have satisfied some of those who say energy and environment issues are too-often overshadowed by the crisis du jour.  

Climate change was not far behind the Inauguration 2013 speech's top-billed issues of economic collapse, a decade of war, and the debate over health care. Roughly a thousand words in, Obama made a long-term case for energy innovation, and was unequivocal in positing environmental protection as a mandate set forth by the nation's founding fathers.

"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity," Obama said. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

The president singled out climate-change skeptics, and critics who oppose investment of taxpayer dollars in private, clean-energy companies.  

"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms," Obama said. "The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But Americans cannot resist this transition. We must lead it."

The remarks echoed sentiments Obama expressed in his first inaugural address, when the newly-elected president envisioned cars and factories powered by the sun, winds, and soil, and assured the nation it would "roll back the specter of a warming planet."

Four years later, in a speech steeped in history, Obama expanded his case for curbing climate change, linking the issue to founding principles and religious imperatives. New energy technologies will not only power new jobs and industries, the president said. It will also "preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God."   

The promise of sustainable energy sources, the president added, "will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared." That creed is likely the self-evident truth of universal equality espoused in the Declaration of Independence, with which Obama opened his speech.

It was a subtle gesture, perhaps suggesting the inclusion of environmental health and energy security alongside life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as unalienable rights enshrined by the nation's Founding Fathers.

Of equal importance was what Obama didn't say Monday. Oil, gas and coal went unmentioned. In previous speeches and campaign debates, Obama has stressed the importance of the nation's growing oil and gas supplies in his "all-of-the-above" approach to energy. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.