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Kevin and Valerie’s Advice for the President (You Know, In Case He Asks)

Posted 01.22.2013

An EnviroMedia cheer went out when President Barack Obama spoke about climate change in his inauguration speech:

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

Val & Kevin at Copenhagen conference

Valerie and Kevin at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.

When — OK, if — the president calls EnviroMedia’s principals to ask what his first response to the climate change threat should be, here’s what they’ll tell him:

Kevin’s advice for President Obama: Congress is clearly not the place to wage war over a new global climate treaty. I really like one idea I overheard: President Obama should call for a special summit with China. The top two polluting countries could discuss ways to make progress on reducing emissions. I suggest the meeting be held in Houston, energy capital of the world. That way, skeptics could see there is no fear of making oil illegal, but there is opportunity in finding ways to increase renewables like natural gas, solar and wind power.

Valerie’s advice: Since we generate more CO2 emissions with our homes than our cars, focus on educating Americans about this connection. When we’re flipping on the light switch and cranking up the thermostat, we’re likely burning fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. In your inauguration speech, I liked the way you focused on the more relatable effects of climate change — like extreme weather. Unfortunately, the phrase “climate change” has become politically charged thanks to the energy lobby. And can we please ban the phrase “clean coal” this term?