The state of the climate 2013: Obama

President Obama's makes clear how fast things are changing in the climate in his 2013 State of the Union:

…for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.  Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late. 

Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it.  We’ve begun to change that.  Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America.  So let’s generate even more.  Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further.  As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence.  That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.  But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water. 

Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together.  So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.  If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we.  Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long.  I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years.  The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

"I urge this Congess to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."

The comebacks:

Will Oremus/Slate:

OK, so what's a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change?

In a word, it's fantasy: as long as the current crop of Republicans have a say in Congress, meaningful climate-change solutions are never going to emerge from that body. The sour look at McCain's face as Obama mentioned his name shows just how far the senator's party has regressed on this issue since his failed presidential bid in 2008.

In three words, though, it's cap-and-trade. Bill McKibben

The first executive act Obama can take right now to stop climate change is to stop Keystone XL.

(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave Congress an ultimatum on climate change: craft a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the dangers of a warming world, or the White House will go it alone.

Yes, so the climate silence is broken for good, with a threat to the House GOP.  

ADD Jonathan Chait on Obama's threat:

Obama has the power to impose powerful unilateral regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions. Whether Obama can follow through on this threat will probably amount to the defining struggle of his second term. A small passage in his speech will eventually be remembered as the opening salvo in a bloody fight of massive consequence.

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