President Obama will deliver his State of the Union speech next Tuesday and many are already speculating on what issues he will address. Gun control, fiscal battles, immigration reform will certainly be among them, but what about climate change?
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” said the president during his inauguration speech on January 21. That declaration highlighted the fact that the President remains attached to this issue but he is now expected by many to follow through.
The stars are currently aligned to offer the president his best opportunity to address climate change and promote courageous policies on the issue. 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the United States, a full degree Fahrenheit above the previous 1998 record, which led 61 percent of the country to be affected by drought. Tweet stat: Tweet
In 2012, eleven natural disasters caused more than $1 billion in damages, with Hurricane Sandy topping the list with more than $60 billion in estimated damages.
On Tuesday, the USDA released a 146-page report written by 56 authors from the federal government, universities, the private sector, and other groups, on the effects of climate change on the U.S. agriculture, a sector that produces $300 billion worth of goods annually. One of the main findings from the report is that the agricultural industry has the capacity to adapt to climate change in the next quarter-century, but “the continued degree of change in the climate by mid-century and beyond is expected to have overall detrimental effects on most crops and livestock.” Tweet quote: Tweet
Though the report concludes that effective adaptation to climate change will be necessary for U.S. agriculture to remain sustainable in the 21st century, it falls short from providing answers on how to do it.
The EPA will release the draft of its Climate Change Adaptation Plan on Friday. Adaptation is essential to the agency considering that climate change will affect its ability to fulfill its mission.
The plan “involve[s] anticipating and planning for changes in climate and incorporating considerations of climate change into many of the agency’s programs, policies, rules and operations.” The draft will be open to public comments for 60 days. Tweet at @EPAgov: Tweet
Polls are also in favor of the president addressing this issue. In January 2013, a poll by Duke University revealed that the share of Americans believing in climate change is on the rise. About 50 percent of total respondents agree that climate change is definitely occurring and 34 percent say its probably occurring. Tweet stat: Tweet
The current chief of the EPA, Lisa P. Jackson, will leave office on February 14 — two days after the State of the Union — which will require President Obama to choose someone new to fill the shoes of a fierce champion of America’s health and environment.
There are many signs pointing to the possibility that the president will use Tuesday’s State of the Union to outline his plan to tackle climate change for the remainder of his administration.