Markey, Obama are Climate Heroes; We Need Superheroes

Yesterday was a big day for the climate movement.

Congressional climate champion Ed Markey won a special election for the U.S. Senate, while President Obama gave his first major speech about climate change, laying out an impressive framework for climate action, including endorsements for divestment and a hint that the Keystone pipeline might be rejected on its climate merits.

Compared to the history of inaction on climate change, these were two very big moments for the climate movement, and by all rights we should be celebrating.

But the sad truth is that while both Markey and Obama qualify in many ways as climate heroes; neither of them are anywhere near good enough. In a time of crisis, ‘regular’ heroism is not enough. We need superheroes.

Both Markey and Obama understand that burning fossil fuels causes climate change. Both of them recognize the need to reduce the burning of 2 fossil fuels (oil and coal), but seem to think that increasing the burning of the third (natural gas) somehow counts as a solution.

It’s like an alcoholic with severe liver damage who suggests he will sober up by drinking beer instead of whiskey. A marginal improvement perhaps, but it misses the point. Beer still damages the liver (because it contains alcohol), and will destroy it if the drinking continues.

That’s where we are right now: our climate is the liver; oil and coal are whiskey, and natural gas is the beer. If we continue burning fossil fuels – whether coal, oil, or gas – we will destroy the climate upon which our planet’s and people’s health depends – because when you burn natural gas, it puts carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and warps our climate. (To say nothing of the effects of methane leaks, fracking, and other local pollution of air and water.)

We need politicians who will speak the truth and not suggest that substituting one fossil fuel for another is somehow a solution.

How about Mr. President? Congressman Markey? Are you ready to be the superheroes we need, or are you going to keep one foot on renewables and one foot on fossil fuels? The choice is yours, and history will remember you for it.


5 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Can you elaborate regarding Markey?

    A key reason I supported him in the recently concluded race is that I DO regard him as a “superhero” to use your word with regard to climate change and environmental matters. I supported him on the expectation that he would be the thorn in the side of Big Oil in much the same way Elizabeth Warren is to Big Finance. I’d wager he is going to be the top climate hero in the Senate.

    • ...and Obama?

      One speech halfway through his second term is not heroic. Not to be ungrateful, but I’m not ready to hand out the Medal of Honor just for recognizing that climate change exists.

      Talk is cheap, whiskey costs money, and initiating regulations now that may be promulgated in two years is pretty thin beer.

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