In a piece I wrote last week, I explored the hows and whys of Shell’s voyage to the Chukchi sea, and some criticism surrounding the plan. I am generally a supporter of President Obama, but I sharply disagreed with him on letting Shell take drilling operations to such a pristine ecosystem which could be absolutely ruined by an oil spill like those we’ve seen in the past few decades of marine oil production and transportation. I was perplexed at how he, a President who called climate change the greatest threat to future generations, could possibly reconcile those views with allowing oil drilling in the Arctic.
This is not the first time he’s let me down on an environmental issue. Earlier this year, Obama voiced his great support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between us and several Asian countries that could potentially bar the United States (and any other party to the deal) from taking action to combat climate change, if it is deemed “harmful to profits“. Before that, he took some serious prodding to rescind his support for the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline that was slated to carry 800,000 barrels’ worth of Tar Sands oil from Canada through pristine American wilderness, and over our country’s biggest aquifer.
He did ultimately veto the pipeline, but a President who is so outspoken in wanting to address climate change should not need any prodding to make good on his words (Contrast that with 2016 Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was opposed to the KXL pipeline from the start, and who led 17 other Senators in opposition to the Arctic drilling plan).
Being vocal is a great start, but you can’t shout climate change away.
Al Gore was right: If President Obama wants his environmental legacy to be a positive one, he will need to spend less of his time talking about his commitment, and more of his time showing it, by defending and supporting legislation designed to mitigate the effects of climate change, and by opposing the same risky energy sources that got us into this mess to begin with.