Saturday, November 02, 2013


President Obama had to resort to an executive order so that he could get some elements of his Climate Change  implemented. Executive orders will force all US agencies to take the potential of climate change into consideration. Alas the order is also an indirect way of acknowledging the fact that climate change will have many negative impacts and that we have to adapt to these changes.
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President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing a government-wide effort to boost preparation in states and local communities for the impact of global warming.

The action orders federal agencies to work with states to build “resilience” against major storms and other weather extremes. For example, the president’s order directs that infrastructure projects like bridges and flood control take into consideration climate conditions of the future, which might require building structures larger or stronger — and likely at a higher price tag.


“The impacts of climate change — including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification and sea-level rise — are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies and public health across the nation,” the presidential order said. “The federal government must build on recent progress and pursue new strategies to improve the nation’s preparedness and resilience.”

There’s no estimate of how much the additional planning will cost. Natural disasters including Superstorm Sandy cost the U.S. economy more than $100 billion in 2012, according to the administration.

The White House is also setting up a task force of state and local leaders to offer advice to the federal government, with several Democratic governors having agreed to serve and at least one Republican governor, from the U.S. territory of Guam.

Mr. Obama has a goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and the Environmental Protection Agency is working on rules that would impose tougher regulations on coal-burning power plants. But much of the president’s climate-change agenda has stalled in Congress, and the administration says the new order recognizes that global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, making further damage from global warming inevitable.

At a speech at Georgetown University in June, Mr. Obama outlined executive actions he would take to require government and private industry to prepare for the effects of climate change.

“The question is not whether we need to act,” Mr. Obama said at the time. “The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.”

18 comments:

Mary Hekker said...

This article leaves me feeling sort of torn. On the one hand, I'm happy that something is being done to recognize the environmental crisis we've put ourselves in. However, I'm also disappointed that we're bracing for the effects of climate change, as if it is inevitable. I wish we could put more of an emphasis on reducing or reversing climate change. The last part of the article touched on how President Obama hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% in six years but congress is not as supportive as others may hoped.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with what Mary said. I'm writing this for the millionth time but we're still not focusing on the main issue. Yes it's great to keep in mind that climate change is happening and will have an effect on us, but I think preparing for it is the secondary choice. I think the number one best option is for us to take action on the root of the problem which is how many greenhouse gases we expel. I truly believe that there are a lot of small things these country could improve on which would make a huge difference. For starters, we could stop factory farms. Not only are the animals abused, the meat lacking it's natural taste and the fact that the farms themselves are employment to thousands of illegal immigrants, but it also expels HUGE amounts of greenhouse gases (from both the factory and the animals themselves.) If we simply put a limit on the amount of livestock farmers could have, it'd make a huge difference in those issues I listed above and cut greenhouse emissions.
Again, this is just one example and I'm hardly even going into detail but it's very easy to make these types of changes. I think we complicate things and make them seem impossible but making this change is absolutely within reach. I think it's great that Obama wants to cut the emissions...but 17% by 2020? I honestly think thats stupid. If thats the amount of time it takes to reduce emissions by not even a quarter of what we expel then we are in serious trouble. Yet again, politics and money trump all. How many anthropocentric caused/rushed environmental disasters will we need to have before we realize that we need to make a drastic change? 17% in 7 years is not near the number we should be at.

Megan Spaulding

Annamaria Watson said...

I really liked President Obama's comment at the end about us needing to have the courage to act before it is too late. This was exactly my sentiment while reading this article. Yes, creating a sustainability will take billions of dollars, multilateral efforts, and will bring heavy consequences. But, what are the costs if we do not act? If only one superstorm, Sandy, cost the US economy $100 billion, than what would major climate change cost us? Future healthcare costs too need to be considered in this. The fact is, we have already dug ourselves into a hole, and it will take some time and effort before we can climb out.

Christie Homberg said...

Although I think it's great that the president is drawing attention to the urgency of environmental issues, I feel like there definitely needs to be more attention on why these issues exist. Specifically, I think that it would be more prudent to raise awareness that, for example, add to climate change. It seems like the money he is proposing to put towards building bridges and flood control to remedy the effects of climate conditions, that money could be better spent educating people on how their actions are contributing to the change in climate conditions.

Bradley Malave said...

I think that it’s an amazing thing that we have the 18th amendment that allows the president to take control of situations and really enforce what s/he believes to be the correct plan of action. For President Obama, he took control of the global warming issue and did an executive order to have U.S. agencies implement the idea of global warming into their business so that when, not if, another disaster comes about in the United States, it will be less devastating than the destruction that super storm Sandy did which caused $100 billion worth of damage. With his new implementation of being conscious of global warming and making efforts into preventing it, it would cost money into development but it will be less than the amount that will be needed to clean up the mess that will be created if these new developments weren’t made. I found what President Obama said to be so profound, “The question is not whether we need to act…the question is whether we have the courage to act before it’s too late.” This I find to be the problem that is not just domestic, but is found on a national level, countries are just not willing to acknowledge that global warming is here, real, and is a great threat and that we need to act in order to either diminish it or create new development and change our current lifestyles so that we can live more sustainably in order to prevent such devastating results.

Chris said...

I feel that this is a great step in solving the environmental problem, however,we should look for ways to prevent it not recover. It hasn't happened yet and there is still time to prevent but I feel that with this legislation we're saying that it happened already. This is a great thing and I'm glad that the president views this as a serious issue and is acting to help solve it. Also I think it's sad that this doesn't have too much support, however, that's because it costs a lot of money. But people need to realize that the amount of money it takes is worth it to save our dwindling natural resources. It will be a lot worse, financially speaking, if we don't spend the money to solve this problem.

Nikita said...

Natural disasters, as it's names suggests are natural processes that have occurred since the world has existed and will continue to occur till there is no more earth. The problem is that human beings have such a destructive impact on the earth, that we are accelerating extreme weather conditions that wouldn't otherwise happen that way naturally. I think that it is a great thing that Obama is out there making promises to cut down on fossil fuels and coal burning, but it is pointless if he does not implement ways for people to do this, and alternates for people to rely on. We have learnt that we cannot have a paradigm shift without a new paradigm in mind, so similarly, what is he proposing we do to cut these costs? And is that really enough? As his last statement says, I have a feeling most of the people are waiting till it's too late to do anything about it.

Nikita said...

Natural disasters, as it's names suggests are natural processes that have occurred since the world has existed and will continue to occur till there is no more earth. The problem is that human beings have such a destructive impact on the earth, that we are accelerating extreme weather conditions that wouldn't otherwise happen that way naturally. I think that it is a great thing that Obama is out there making promises to cut down on fossil fuels and coal burning, but it is pointless if he does not implement ways for people to do this, and alternates for people to rely on. We have learnt that we cannot have a paradigm shift without a new paradigm in mind, so similarly, what is he proposing we do to cut these costs? And is that really enough? As his last statement says, I have a feeling most of the people are waiting till it's too late to do anything about it.

Remy Gallo said...

The idea that President Obama is taking control excites me, but his enthusiasm is not going to change anything by itself. Those who don't believe in global warming will always find loopholes to dodge action. Just because people have to now be cautious doesn't mean anything will definitely change. Not to be a downer, because I think its a step in the right direction, but I don't think this will have the positive effect we are hoping for. This also sounds to me like we are giving up trying to stop global warming and are now going to focus on minimizing the damage. At some point the damage will be too much for any "plan" to help us. This is just another way for us to make ourselves feel like we are making progress while avoiding the real problem.

Michael Bronn said...

I believe that preparing for the impact of global warming is a very good idea, although it does cost a lot of money which we do not currently have much of. By my house they have already started to raise the height of the beach because when Sandy happened my whole area was completely flooded and houses were wiped out entirely. We need to prepare as best we can for upcoming climate issues that we may have because in the end it will save us money and the lives of many people. While preparing we also need to limit the pollution, that is probably the most important objective.

Omer Aitzaz said...

This articles revives our collective hope in world leader(s) coming together to address the overgrown issue of global climatic shift. The fact that President Obama delivered a speech and hihglighted the major problems that humans are facing is indicative of the seriousness of global warming effects. This is a matter that effects every race, gender, ethnicity and population. People all over the world have to understand that the direction humans are heading in with their affluent lifestyle and beligerent use of the world's almost depleted natural resources have dire consequences, the effectof which we are just starting to see; the increase in the severity of natural disasters is a clear red warning. The superstorm that is currently hitting the Phillipines, Superstorm Haiyan, has been recorded as the strongest storm to hit the earth in recorded history. This should be the last straw towards the magnitude of threat that global climate change has. Human race is leading the race towards the bottom, a race that is might aswell be the last one. Human race is close to extinction, and all of our collective efforts are required to help us survive the eminent end that is approaching us. Similar to Obama, all world leaders should be taking this initiative to reduce our collective and individual carbon footprint at an increasingly fast rate. The figure of CO2 reduction by 17% seems like a lot, but in the long term it is not even close to what humans should be aiming for. For humans to survive this cascade of inevitable disasters hitting us everyday, we all need to come together under the banner of humans and strive to help reduce the magnificent footprint we currently hold on the world.

Omer Aitzaz said...

This articles revives our collective hope in world leader(s) coming together to address the overgrown issue of global climatic shift. The fact that President Obama delivered a speech and hihglighted the major problems that humans are facing is indicative of the seriousness of global warming effects. This is a matter that effects every race, gender, ethnicity and population. People all over the world have to understand that the direction humans are heading in with their affluent lifestyle and beligerent use of the world's almost depleted natural resources have dire consequences, the effectof which we are just starting to see; the increase in the severity of natural disasters is a clear red warning. The superstorm that is currently hitting the Phillipines, Superstorm Haiyan, has been recorded as the strongest storm to hit the earth in recorded history. This should be the last straw towards the magnitude of threat that global climate change has. Human race is leading the race towards the bottom, a race that is might aswell be the last one. Human race is close to extinction, and all of our collective efforts are required to help us survive the eminent end that is approaching us. Similar to Obama, all world leaders should be taking this initiative to reduce our collective and individual carbon footprint at an increasingly fast rate. The figure of CO2 reduction by 17% seems like a lot, but in the long term it is not even close to what humans should be aiming for. For humans to survive this cascade of inevitable disasters hitting us everyday, we all need to come together under the banner of humans and strive to help reduce the magnificent footprint we currently hold on the world.

Mary OSullivan said...

I completely agree with President Obama when he says that we need to do something before it is too late, however I don't think they are going to be doing enough. There are so many problems with our environment, that simply changing small things will not be enough. Rather then preventing the effects, we should be trying to reversethem

Taylor Vogt said...

When I hear someone say that the President had to issue an executive order the first thing that comes to mind is why the doctrine didn't come from Congress, especially when it's such a major domestic issue such as climate change. I know exactly why, though. Politics in this country has become so stalemated on derisive issues such as climate change that the only way to get things done is for the President to do it himself, without having to rely on the parties that seem to have nothing better to do than bicker amongst themselves. After Hurricane Sandy Governer Christie of New Jersey declared that this kind of event should bring both sides together to figure out solutions to preventing such devastation from ever happening again. It's very sad when nearly 100 billion dollars worth of damage and lives could be lost to something that should have been dealt with decades ago, and is even being prolonged now.

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