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Barack Obama

Obama: Climate Pessimism More Dangerous Than Climate Deniers

9:30 AM PDT on October 23, 2009

In a speech much anticipated by those tracking the D.C.
environmental debate, President Obama today took on opponents of
congressional action on climate change, decrying "naysayers" who "make
cynical claims" that ignore scientific evidence of the harm caused by
emissions.

innovation_obama.jpg(Photo: BusinessWeek)

But
"far more dangerous" than the rhetoric of climate deniers or skeptics,
Obama added, is the tendency towards cynicism about America's chances
of ending its dependence on fossil fuels.

Speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Obama described a perspective that "we're all somewhat complicit in":

It's the pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken andour people too unwilling to make hard choices for us to actually dealwith this energy issue that we're facing. And implicit in this argumentis the sense that somehow we've lost something important, that fightingAmerican spirit, that willingness to tackle hard challenges, thatdetermination to see those challenges to the end, that we can solveproblems, that we can act collectively, that somehow that is somethingof the past.

I reject that argument.

Obama's speech, which focused on building confidence in U.S. scientific
innovation and lawmakers' efforts to find "consensus" on climate
change, sounded broader political notes that proved effective during
his campaign last year.

Still, while the president offered no shortage of hopefulness, he made few direct references to the Senate climate bill that will take
its first major step towards passage next week with a series of
environment committee hearings. Obama praised Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-SC) for partnering this month with the Senate climate bill's chief
sponsor, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), on an op-ed that outlined a potential compromise approach on emissions limits.

But
the question of where the White House would stand on some of the most
contentious issues in the climate debate, including how much revenue to
set aside for clean transportation, remains unanswered. Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood suggested during the summer that the administration may not weigh in on the transport issue until climate talks reach their final stages.

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