David W. Wolfe is a professor of plant and soil ecology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the chair of the Climate Change Focus Group at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Art DeGaetano, a climatologist and professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is an Atkinson fellow and the director of the Cornell-based NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center. Both experts comment on President Obama’s inaugural call for U.S. leadership on renewable energy to combat climate change.
“It is very satisfying to see the top leadership of my own country, at long last, join the rest of the developed world in recognizing the importance this issue.
“Once the American people roll up their sleeves and get to work on this challenge, we will make things happen that will not only benefit our own economic development and national security, but will mobilize global action for a healthier and more prosperous environment for future generations.”
“Although a surprise politically, Obama's promise to respond to climate change comes on the heels of the warmest year on record for the United States.
“In addition, 2012 was marked with widespread wild fires, significant floods from both extreme precipitation and coast storm surge, a lack of snow cover, the expansion of prolonged drought conditions in the country's midsection, unusual events that are likely to become more common under a warming climate.
“Responding to these changes through policies aimed at adapting to the expected impacts, providing science-based tools to address climate change and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions is a prudent course of action for the federal government to take.”
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