Will Bunnett

Politics • Branding • Psychology

Obama Times it Right on Climate Change

Global warming is real. Incidentally, I even have friends getting arrested because of it. More power to them.

The winds of belief in climate change are blowing this summer.

The winds of belief in climate change
are blowing this summer.

But here’s the thing: people don’t understand the difference between climate and weather — namely, that weather is what it’s like outside your house today, while climate is what it’s like over a broad area and over months or years. That means when it’s cold out, people call Al Gore an idiot, but when it’s hot out, they are more likely to say they believe in climate change.

Don’t believe that people could be so fickle? It’s true, though; it’s science. Then again, if you don’t believe in climate change, you might not believe in science anyway.

But this fact brings us to a very smart thing that is happening: President Obama is set to roll out new climate change initiatives this summer:

Heather Zichal, the White House coordinator for energy and climate change, said the president would announce the new policy initiatives in the coming weeks. Another official said a presidential address outlining the new policy could come as early as next week…

“The grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise,” Mr. Obama said. “This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.”

I’m not so sure this was intentional. After all, this is the fifth summer Barack Obama will spend in the White House, and he’s been saying that “delay is no longer an option” on climate change since at least 2008. But for a president who sees his biggest mistake as putting policy ahead of storytelling, it bodes well that this policy is slated to be unveiled in the most favorable environment for telling its story. And in my opinion, it couldn’t come a summer too soon.

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