In the emotions, joys, and disappointments immediately following an election campaign’s conclusion, the newly re-elected President touches briefly on our warming planet, ending the campaigns’ seeming taboos on mentioning climate change.
Substantial elements of the climate-concerned community may not soon get over their frustration that climate change scarcely made it into the presidential election campaign season discourse, notwithstanding what some might have considered the impetus provided by “Superstorm Sandy.”
Try as they did, their efforts to have either major candidate address and embrace the issue fell flat. And so too did their efforts to have big-name broadcast journalists raise the issue during six hours of nationally televised presidential and vice presidential campaign debates.
Their wounds, however, may be somewhat salved by the appearance of the subject where it just might matter most — in the late-night/early-morning acceptance speech by the newly re-elected President Barack Obama. The words they wanted so much to hear came in the context of the President’s speaking of the importance of the election process, its warts notwithstanding, as excerpted here from the official transcript:
….despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.
A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. [emphasis added]
Seven words. That’s all, but more, some might maintain, than was seriously devoted to the subject by the two candidates combined during what seemed like interminable hours of debate, campaign speeches, paid commercials, and plain-old jibberish.
They’re words and not actions, at this point, of course. And few would pretend that significant progress on climate is now a slam-dunk. But considering all that goes into the every-word-counts calculation of presidential speeches, there’s little doubt that for the climate-concerned millions frustrated by months of silence, it was a breathe-deeply moment they’ll hope to build on in coming months and years.
The tick-tock clock soon will be running to see if the second Obama term can have more success than the first in advancing a comprehensive climate change initiative.
Again, Yogi Berra perhaps said it best in reminding us that “it gets late early.”