Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Heavy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown

December 16th

Tonight as Barack Obama prepares to leave for Copenhagen, the drama could not be more intense and this is happening on multiple fronts.

In Copenhagen the talks have broken down as the world awaits the arrival of more than 100 heads of state. As compared with the refinement and protocol of the Nobel Peace Prize Award in Oslo last week, Copenhagen with its police cordons and demonstrations seems to be near chaos.

The Wall Street Journal reported (Peter Walsten)

The United Nations summit that was supposed to galvanize global cooperation against climate change is on the brink of failure, and how it ends will depend on whether President Barack Obama and other world leaders about to descend on the Danish capital can bridge deep disagreements over trillion-dollar decisions.

The controversy does not appear to be solvable. China has remained close to the poor nations, the G-77. As of today China is resisting the notion that there could be any outside inspection of its voluntary agreements.

In the meantime, President Obama’s popularity continues to fall. Less than 50% of the public approves of the way that he is handling his job. This discontent appears to have come from concern with the health care bill that continues to head toward the 11th hour showdown in the Senate. And many American’s, especially some his strongest supporters, disapprove of his war policies.

In a Wall Street Journal NBC poll, a majority of Americans believe that America will be surpassed by China in 20 years. Obama’s popularity has fallen in his first year more than his predecessors. These are all measures that are not lost on the Democrats who must be concerned that as they run for office next year, their own popularity continues to erode.

Global warming could not be a more difficult challenge and the President will have to play his role with resources that are increasingly constrained.

This is a good time to revisit all of the major climate change issues because no matter what happens in Copenhagen, EPA has already announced that it is compelled to act under the Clean Air Act to address the concern with the “endangerment” caused by Greenhouse Gases. The issue of whether action will be taken here is beyond popularity. What is at issue is how limits will be set and what will happen to everyone else as policy plays itself out. Henry the IV would have understood what the President faces tonight.

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The Stone Age Didn’t End Because the World Ran Out of Stones

August 25th

In an article on the Saudi reaction to President Obama’s call for Energy Independence Jad Mouawad of the New York Times “Green Inc.” notes the ever-present dynamics of the geopolitics of oil.  (“Saudi Blasts American Energy Policy.”)

The Saudis are as sensitive to the cross currents of energy policy change as anyone.  In “In a short and strongly-worded essay in Foreign Policy magazine, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United States and a nephew to King Abdullah” critiques the broad statements of the Obama Administration.  His point recalls Sheik Yamani’s famous line about the stone age.

What this thought points to is the question of how soon green technology is going to replace the oil economy.  While it makes the stream of articles on China’s development of solar panels and electric vehicles all the more interesting, it does recognize that no one can imagine a technology that is going to radically shift the energy balance in the next five years.

In the meantime, OPEC looks quite different today than it did in 1973.  The difference is not in the names of the countries that are the sources of oil but in their leadership and their relationship to the U.S.  Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and Nigeria could not be more different today than they were in 1973 when Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon first launched the policy of “energy independence.”

Department of Energy Announces New Auto Battery Initiative

August 11th

Obama’s Energy Initiatives put pedal to the metal:

Further accelerating the manufacturing and deployment of electric vehicles, batteries, and components here in America, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs, President Obama today announced 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects that will receive $2.4 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects, selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles, helping to establish American leadership in creating the next generation of advanced vehicles.

As opposed to Bush’s 2007 energy initiative, this one has some real meat on its bones. Korean journalists buried the story though, it’ll be interesting to see whether they can bring it back next week.