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The State Of The Union Of Climate Change: How Will Obama Address Global Warming?

Progress Ohio
Flickr Creative Commons

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will give the first State of the Union address of his second term. Among the many issues that impact South Floridians -- jobs, immigration reform, Medicare -- climate change is one of the hot-button topics expected to make the agenda. 

Opinion polls indicate a growing concern over the topic. An October 2012 survey from Yale's "Project on Climate Change Communication" showed that "a large and growing majority of  Americans say 'global warming is affecting weather in the United States'."

That survey reported that 74 percent of respondents expressed concerns about climate change, up from 69 percent in a previous survey from March 2012. A majority also attributed significant weather events in recent years -- droughts, warm winters, record-high summer temperatures -- to climate change; and this was a pre-Sandy poll. 

At the Southeast Florida Regional Compact Climate Change's fourth annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit held in Dec. 2012 in Jupiter, Nova Southeastern University professor Richard Grosso spoke of the need to factor climate change into the region's "long-range planning" and development. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

"We need to have the will to do things we've never done before and do them quickly," said Grosso, professor of land-use law at Nova Southeastern University. "We need to elect officials who will not be paralyzed by doubt."

So how will the White House's leadership address climate change in Tuesday's speech and beyond? Politico reports that once he was "past his reelection worries" Obama added climate change back "atop the agenda in last month's inaugural address." It is reported that White House aides told environmental organizations that they're going to "like what (they) hear" in Tuesday's address. An unnamed environmental organization official expects to hear concrete plans of what the Obama administration intends to do about global warming, though "few people expect lawmakers to have any appetite for major climate legislation."

USA Today reports Tuesday's talk of climate change will likely focus on how the issue "can help rebuild the economy and promote jobs." One example given was "investment in the clean energy industry," according to unnamed Obama aides. 

A story that appeared on Miami Herald last week cited a report by the World Resources Institute that examines how much legal authority Obama has to follow through on any pledges to address climate change. The report offered a few solutions for the administration should it meet resistance from Congress. The think tank identified four "main areas of opportunity where the administration can act without involving Congress." Among those ideas are reducing emissions from air conditioners and "higher standards for carbon dioxide emission to existing power plants."

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