The White House stressed urgency in its release of the annual National Climate Assessment, but building support in the public or Congress will still be a tough sell.
TV meteorologists conducted Rose Garden interviews with President Barack Obama for a “Weather from the White House” event Tuesday to coincide with the release of the new report, which said global warming is causing increased coastal flooding, more wildfires and heavier rain.
“Humans have been increasingly affecting global climate, to the point where we are now the primary cause of recent and projected future change,” according to the report. “Global climate change is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond, but there is still time to act to limit the amount of change and the extent of damaging impacts.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration is not actively pushing a cap and trade policy, which failed in Congress in 2009, but that Obama is moving forward on his “climate action plan.”
“It’s happening now. I think that’s the bottom-line results of this assessment … . It’s really a remarkable document produced over the course of four years, much more comprehensive than its predecessors,” Carney said. “And it makes clear that carbon pollution has increased dramatically in recent decades, that climate change is threatening human health and well-being through more extreme wether events, changes in the disease transmission and decreased air quality. The severe droughts are leading to crop losses and wildfires in the west and the greatest sea level rise in recent decades.”
Despite those findings, it seems unlikely the American people will be particularly moved, Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport told Bloomberg News.
“We find no evidence that it’s a high priority for Americans,” Newport said. “They are much more concerned about more proximate issues such as jobs and the economy.”
Surveys showed that even environmentalists rank global warming below polluted drinking water and toxic waste as concerns, Newport said.
Obama had interviews Tuesday with meteorologists from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Columbia, South Carolina, according to the White House, including Al Roker of NBC’s “Today.”
The push also isn’t winning over Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“Presumably, he’ll use the platform to renew his call for a national energy tax and I’m sure he’ll get loud cheers from liberal elites — from the kind of people who leave a giant carbon footprint and then lecture everybody else about low-flow toilets,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
“The president also knows that much of the pain of imposing such regulations would be borne by the middle class,” McConnell added. “That’s why this discussion has become so cynical, and it’s part of the reason the president’s own party couldn’t even pass a national energy tax when it had complete control of Washington. The American people weren’t willing to go along with considerable domestic pain for negligible global gain then. It’s foolish to think they’d assent to a bad idea now.”