Video Shows Why the White House Is Getting Aggressive About Climate Change

In advance of the final Clean Power Plan, President Obama explains the need for historic power plant regulations.
(Photo: The White House/Facebook)
Aug 2, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Cities around the globe are heating up. Just this past week, Baghdad saw its hottest day on record: 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Bandar Mahshahr, Iran, sweltered to an unprecedented 159-degree heat index, and American cities in New York, Texas, Connecticut, and Oregon experienced their hottest days of the year. Suffocating heat is impossible to ignore, and climate experts say it’s further evidence of global climate change.

Amid these historic temperatures, President Obama is looking to aggressively combat the emissions scientists say are contributing to the long-term trend. On Monday, he will present a finalized set of environmental regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency has been working on for years.

“We can see it, and we can feel it,” Obama said in a video published to Facebook at midnight Saturday, in advance of his Clean Power Plan announcement. “Hotter summers, rising sea levels, extreme weather events like stronger storms, deeper droughts, and longer wildfire seasons: all disasters that are becoming more frequent, more expensive, and more dangerous.” The video and proposed regulations come as the nation is set to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was a Category 5 storm as it crossed the Gulf of Mexico toward New Orleans.

Billed as part of the Act on Climate movement, Obama’s revised proposal for the Clean Power Plan would be the “biggest, most important step” the nation has ever taken on fighting climate change, the president said in the Facebook video. His finalized proposal would require power plants across the country to reduce emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, according to he New York Times. It’s an even steeper goal than the 30 percent reduction initially laid out in the proposal draft first introduced by the EPA in 2012.

BREAKING: On Monday, President Obama will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan—the biggest, most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change. If you agree that we can't condemn our kids and grandkids to a planet that's beyond fixing, share this video with your friends and family. It's time to #ActOnClimate.

Posted by The White House on Saturday, August 1, 2015

“Power plants are the single biggest source of the harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change,” Obama said in the Facebook video. “But until now, there have been no federal limits to the amount of that pollution those plants can dump into the air.” Obama’s push for regulations is significant considering that not even a decade ago, the Bush administration attempted to suppress an EPA report that linked greenhouse gas emissions with serious environmental and health risks.

While the final version of the Clean Power Plan seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions, it also looks to encourage investment in renewable sources, which would account for 28 percent of electricity generation—up from the 22 percent proposed in an earlier draft. Individual states would have until next year to submit an outline of their custom plan for reducing carbon pollution from power plants. States heavily tied to the coal mining industry—and the corporations that operate in places like Kentucky, Wyoming, and West Virginia—are expected to challenge the regulations in court.

Scientists who study the climate almost unanimously agree that the global warming that is unambiguously being seen is caused by human activity and greenhouse gas emissions in particular. But just half of American adults see it that way, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll. Maybe the misunderstanding about climate change helps explain why only 28 percent of Americans ranked it as a priority for Obama and Congress in a Pew poll from last year.

But in his Act on Climate video, Obama refutes the idea that climate change is a minority opinion.

“It’s fact—backed up by decades of carefully collected data and overwhelming scientific consensus,” the president said. “Climate change is not a problem for another generation—not anymore.”