MARK KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a nod that his campaign will be using climate change as a wedge issue this year against Romney, Obama, however, implied that he thought too much of a ruckus was made about the Keystone XL Pipeline -- and all but said that he would approve it.
In an analysis of Obama's surprising emphasis on climate change in the Rolling Stone question and answer session, Joe Romm writes for Think Progress that the emergence of climate change as an area of concern from the president is a bit surprising, considering his relative reticence about the issue over the last four years.
As Romm points out, Obama blames the congressional Republicans - and perhaps rightfully so - for the failure of the US to make tangible process on slowing down global warming. Indeed, the US Republican members of the senate publicly consider the notion of an environmental "tipping point" as a hoax.
But Obama, in the interview with Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, comes off sounding rather modest in his climate change goals. In fact, he dismisses the Keystone XL Pipeline 350.org protests as well-intentioned but ultimately an over reaction. Wenner asks Obama, "James Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist, has said this about the Keystone pipeline: that if the pipeline goes through and we burn tar sands in Canada, it's 'game over' for the planet. What's your reaction to that statement?"
Obama's answer reveals much about the pipeline's future and Obama's dismissal of the alarm about global warming that it has set off:
James Hansen is a scientist who has done an enormous amount not only to understand climate change, but also to help publicize the issue. I have the utmost respect for scientists. But it's important to understand that Canada is going to be moving forward with tar sands, regardless of what we do. That's their national policy, they're pursuing it. With respect to Keystone, my goal has been to have an honest process, and I have adamantly objected to Congress trying to circumvent a process that was well-established not just under Democratic administrations, but also under Republican administrations.
The reason that Keystone got so much attention is not because that particular pipeline is a make-or-break issue for climate change, but because those who have looked at the science of climate change are scared and concerned about a general lack of sufficient movement to deal with the problem.
So Obama disagrees that the carbon dioxide released from tar sands processing will lead to a global warming meltdown. He goes on to promote incremental approaches to dealing with the threat of an atmospheric implosion.
The takeaway is pretty clear: Obama is going to campaign on the threat of climate change, but he is also going to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline to Houston, because he doesn't think it is a "make-or-break" project for the environment - and, with his usual pragmatic acquiescence, he argues that Canada is going to proceed with the global warming nightmare project anyway.
On its website, 350.org's mission statement declares, "In 2012, with the help of millions of people, we'll create a wave a hard-hitting climate activism all over the world that can lead to real, lasting, large-scale change. We think we can turn the tide on the climate crisis--but only if we work together. If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to realities of science and principles of justice, we can realize the solutions that will ensure a better future for all."
Obama is arguing, in the Rolling Stone interview, that he offers a climate change alternative to the Republican denialists. But he has a way of making it sound like he can cure cancer with aspirin.
Retired Brigadier General Steve Anderson, who served as the former senior Army logistician in Iraq, warns of the dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline:
The 1,700 mile Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast just maintains the status quo of an unhealthy reliance on oil. It matters not that the oil would come from friends to the north—it does nothing to slake our unquenchable thirst, which empowers all oil-exporting countries, including those who would harm us. In addition, Keystone XL would contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change—which the Defense Department said "act as an accelerant to instability and conflict'"
Obama shouldn't just listen to the military brass on issues of war; he ought to pay heed to their advice on matters of our national and the earth's security when it comes to oil dependency and global warming.