16 June 2010

Obama's Speech

Keith Kloor has a rundown of reactions to President Obama's speech last night. For me the most interesting bit was this:
I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy -– because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

So I'm happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development -– and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny -– our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we're unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don't yet know precisely how we're going to get there. We know we'll get there.
It is hard to read those words and see a future for cap-and-trade. Admitting that we don't have all the answers is in my opinion a huge step forward and something that the President deserves credit for saying. For too long "I don't know" has been taboo in discussions of climate policy. But understanding the limits of our policy proposals is a first step toward wiser policies.

Obama showed policy leadership in his speech, which will likely have partisans upset. Nonetheless, it is policy leadership that this issue needs, not political posturing. The tone of his speech last night was far more appropriate to the challenge -- much better than boots on necks and asses to kick.