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15 Sep

President Obama’s Mortal Sin

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President Obama’s Mortal Sin

President Obama’s approval of Shell’s Arctic oil drilling has tarnished his environmental legacy.

The O’Leary: Classic Obama.

articaa

President Obama seeing the effects of climate change on Bear Glacier, aboard Viewfinder.
Image Credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy.

INTRODUCTION

President Obama is the first incumbent US President to cross the Arctic Circle. The purpose of his expedition was to “witness first-hand the impact of climate change on the region” and to announce new measures to address it. Speaking at the Glacier climate summit in Anchorage, Obama recognised the role of the U.S. “in creating this problem.” He also stated “we embrace our responsibility to help solve it” because failure to do so will “condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.” Yet less than one month ago his administration gave the green light to Shell to drill for oil in the Arctic.

President Obama must know that it is impossible to protect the Arctic while allowing Shell to drill for oil 70 miles off the coast of Alaska. He cannot have it both ways. His policies and proclamations are irreconcilable.

During his three-day excursion to the Arctic Circle he climbed a receding glacier, saw the melting Alaskan permafrost, met vulnerable coastal communities and addressed the Glacier climate summit.

On the first day of his trip Obama participated in a roundtable discussion with Alaskan Natives. At the Glacier summit he urged fellow world leaders to reach an agreement at the UNFCCC Paris climate summit, COP21 in December that “protects the one planet … while we still can”.

On day two Obama hiked the Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park. He knows the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the US and he is aware that the Exit Glacier has receded more than a mile since the start of the industrial revolution, with the rate of melting accelerating in the last few decades. He called the glacier “as good of a signpost as any when it comes to the impacts of climate change” and said he wanted his grandchildren to be able to see it one day. If President Obama really means this, how can he justify his approval of Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic?

On the third day of his trip Obama met with local fishermen and families and attended a cultural performance by the children of Dillingham Middle School. The President joined the children in their last dance, saying: “I’ve been practising.” He visited Kotzebue’s sea wall to see the effects of rising sea levels and the devastating impact of increased storm severity. President Obama must know that even if the world agrees to keep temperature rises to 2 degree Celsius, sea levels, due to the melting of the ice, may still rise by 20 feet (6 metres) by 2100.

On day two Obama hiked the Exit Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park. He knows the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the US and he is aware that the Exit Glacier has receded more than a mile since the start of the industrial revolution, with the rate of melting accelerating in the last few decades. He called the glacier “as good of a signpost as any when it comes to the impacts of climate change” and said he wanted his grandchildren to be able to see it one day. If President Obama really means this, how can he justify his approval of Shell’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic?

On the third day of his trip Obama met with local fishermen and families and attended a cultural performance by the children of Dillingham Middle School. The President joined the children in their last dance, saying: “I’ve been practising.” He visited Kotzebue’s sea wall to see the effects of rising sea levels and the devastating impact of increased storm severity. President Obama must know that even if the world agrees to keep temperature rises to 2 degree Celsius, sea levels, due to the melting of the ice, may still rise by 20 feet (6 metres) by 2100.

THE ARCTIC……………..

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