Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama puts US back on solving global warming

Scientists say Arizona and the American southwest will continue to get drier and hotter with climate change.

CHICAGO -- Speaking via video to a gathering of world leaders, President-elect Barack Obama said that the continued existence of George Bush as president would prevent him from making the trip to Poland next month for the next round of international global warming and climate change talks. But he'd clearly heard the call for his presence.

Here's a key passage from Obama's video statement:

"Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather in Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won't be president at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one president at a time, I've asked members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there. And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change."

Why is Obama's statement such a big deal? Because for eight years the U.S. has been blocking genuine progress on an international climate deal. Now, in the middle of economic crisis and with plenty of other issues to address, President-elect Obama took the time to make a special statement committing the U.S. to positive engagement in the upcoming negotiations. His commitment will be seen as a major breakthrough by countries around the world.

It's a start.

- adapted from Bill McKibben,

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