Global warming is expected to feature in President Barack Obama’s upcoming State Of The Union address, despite the US having survived the polar vortex that caused one of the coldest winters on record. President Obama will deliver the speech on Thursday of next week. Meanwhile, meteorologists are predicting one final blast of arctic air, leading to yet another round of freezing temperatures across the US.
The exact details of the 2014 State Of The Union are still being decided upon by Obama and his aides, but climate change and global warming are expected to feature. Ned Helme, president of the Center for Clean Air Policy, is amongst the environmental campaigners calling on the president to reaffirm his commitment to tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In his 2013, Obama pledged to “do something” about climate change; green campaigners will be hoping for something more concrete in this year’s speech.
Obama himself has recently been putting climate change back on the agenda. In a speech to the US Conference of Mayors, the President pointed to a skeptical and intransigent Congress that refuses to “pull the trigger on stuff” and appealed to local mayors to start enacting green policies immediately, and to encourage Americans to take action by themselves.
While Obama seems keen to discuss green policies in his State Of The Union, this may not be the best time to mention global warming to the American public. Weather forecasts indicate that cold weather is due to return, with the polar vortex due to give way to a blast of cold air drifting down from Siberia. The President’s hometown of Chicago is looking at temperatures of -25 degrees and even the South will experience prolonged freezing temperatures in a cold snap that’s due to go on until early February.
Climate change remains a controversial topic in US politics. The cold weather has been something of a PR victory for climate skeptics, who argue that the extreme cold temperatures of this winter contradict theories of global warming. From Republicans in the House to Donald Trump’s Twitter account, the polar vortex has been frequently cited as a direct repudiation of Obama’s green policies.
Those who believe climate change is caused by fossil fuels have continued to defend the theory. NASA recently released a time-lapse video showing the rise in average temperatures worldwide since 1950, while others have noted that the Southern Hemisphere has suffered dangerously high temperatures during our summer. While America has struggled in the snow, Australia suffered a devastating heat wave with the highest recorded temperatures in over a century.
With midterms coming up in November, this State Of The Union will be the first battle in a long and difficult election campaign. Global warming will be just one of many issues Obama is expected to use to energize the Democrat voter base. It’s also likely that the opposite point of view will be put across in the official Republican response, which is this year to be delivered by Cathy McMorris Rogers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress. Polar vortex or not, this cold war will start to heat up on Thursday night.