You might have heard the news on Friday – which is precisely why I did not write about the news on Friday. Friday is the day of the week that people choose to release news that they want to quickly die away. Most people don’t read the news on Friday, because they’re preparing for the weekend, focusing on deadlines or planning ahead for their time off. Even when people do read the news on Friday, they usually forget about the Friday news by the time Monday comes around. Politicians know this, and so, when they are compelled to share information with the public, but don’t want the public to pay much attention to it, they release it at the end of the week, on Thursday afternoon or Friday.
Look at the news that a politician releases at the end of the week, and you can find the shadow side of that politician. You can see what that politician is trying to hide.
It’s bad news for the environmental movement, then, to see the news that the Obama Administration chose to release and end of last week.
As President, Barack Obama has refused to support serious legislation to deal with the growing problem of climate change, and has failed to take comprehensive executive action to deal with the environmental crisis. In the meanwhile, Obama has supported policies to encourage the increased extraction and burning fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas. In spite of his anti-environmental record, however, Obama keeps on promising that sometime, somewhere, he will do something to stop the global crisis of ecological degradation of which climate change is just one part. Many environmentalists keep expressing their support for Obama too, because of these promises.
Maybe that’s why Obama chose the end of last week to release a report showing that climate change is getting worse under his watch. The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee released its Draft Climate Assessment Report on Friday. It’s a peer-reviewed collaborative summary, compiled by a team of over 240 experts, of the latest information about climate change.
The report begins: “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. This report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee concludes that the evidence for a changing climate has strengthened considerably since the last National Climate Assessment report, written in 2009. Many more impacts of human-caused climate change have now been observed. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience. So, too, have coastal planners from Florida to Maine, water managers in the arid Southwest and parts of the Southeast, and Native Americans on tribal lands across the nation.
Americans are noticing changes all around them. Summers are longer and hotter, and periods of extreme heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced. Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours, though in many regions there are longer dry spells in between.
Other changes are even more dramatic. Residents of some coastal cities see their streets flood more regularly during storms and high tides. Inland cities near large rivers also experience more flooding, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. Hotter and drier weather and earlier snow melt mean that wildfires in the West start earlier in the year, last later into the fall, threaten more homes, cause more evacuations, and burn more acreage. In Alaska, the summer sea ice that once protected the coasts has receded, and fall storms now cause more erosion and damage that is severe enough that some communities are already facing relocation.
Scientists studying climate change confirm that these observations are consistent with Earth’s climatic trends…”
This is grave news, showing that climate change is acting as a rapidly expanding drag on the American economy. Yet, President Obama isn’t talking about the report. Instead, in a speech today, Barack Obama will be characterizing an upcoming debate about an increase to the debt ceiling, a routine event, as if it is at the center of our nation’s economic troubles.
Another matter that will not be addressed in today’s speech by President Obama will be the revelation late last week that Shell Oil’s Artic oil drilling vessels repeatedly violated the pollution limits Shell Oil agreed to in exchange for permission to drill for fossil fuels in Arctic waters. Barack Obama had personally given his strong support to the Arctic oil drilling, and has called for drilling on land and in the Arctic Ocean to expand even further and faster. Although the EPA has apparently known about the pollution violations by Shell Oil for many months, the agency chose late Thursday as the time to acknowledge the problem, so that reporting on the environmental problems in Shell’s Arctic drilling operations began only late Thursday night. What’s more, the EPA declined to release details of the violations, and refused to answer questions from reporters about the matter. The story was doomed, therefore, to become a small Friday news blip.
The Obama Administration’s decision to minimize these new stories about the environmental crisis shows that Barack Obama is aware of what’s going on, but doesn’t want the American people to pay attention to the problem. Just as in his first term in the White House, Barack Obama is serving the interests of fossil fuels corporations, and ignoring the welfare of the nation as a whole in order to do so.