"Obama's Climate Challenge"

"As America wakes up to the dangers ahead, the president has a historic opportunity to take bold action on global warming."

"Among all the tests President Obama faced in his first term, his biggest failure was climate change. After promising in 2008 that his presidency would be 'the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,' President Obama went silent on the most crucial issue of our time. He failed to talk openly with Americans about the risks of continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, failed to put political muscle behind legislation to cap carbon pollution, failed to meaningfully engage in international climate negotiations, failed to use the power of his office to end the fake 'debate' about the reality of global warming and failed to prepare Americans – and the world – for life on a rapidly­ warming planet. It was as if the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced became a political inconvenience for the president once he was elected.

Now Obama gets another shot at it. 'The politics of global warming are changing fast,' says Kevin Knobloch, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Thanks to a year of extreme weather and Hurricane Sandy, a large majority of Americans – nearly 90 percent – favor action on global warming, even if there are economic costs. The U.S. economy is on the road to recovery and no longer offers an excuse for inaction. Big Coal, traditionally the loudest voice against climate action, has been weakened by a glut of cheap natural gas and the economic viability of solar and wind power. China has new political leadership that appears open to discussing a global agreement to cut carbon. And Obama himself has nothing left to lose. 'The president has a big opportunity here,' says former Vice President Al Gore. 'This is a moment when he can expand the ideas of what's possible.'"

Jeff Goodell reports for Rolling Stone January 17, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"Obama On Climate Change Faces High Expectations, And High Hurdles, In Second Term" (Huffington Post/Tom Zeller Jr.)

"Obama To Confront Oil Pipeline, Climate Change" (AP)

Source: Rolling Stone, 01/18/2013