The president leads on climate change — and it’s about time

Last week, I was riding back from National Airport in a cab and the driver had Rush Limbaugh on with a multi-day rant decrying the existence of climate change. It was all a political ploy from the left, Limbaugh said, and had no relation to any scientific evidence.

All a hoax, made up, fabricated, to inspire the liberals.

Unbelievable.

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President Obama's decision to lead on reducing carbon emissions by using the Nixon-era Clean Air Act of 1970 is welcome news and probably will drive the Limbaughs of the world up a wall.

This is important not just for the United States but also to show leadership to the world that we are serious and ready to confront the problem.

Take China. Carbon pollution and manufacturing plants have created nearly uninhabitable cities, described by USA Today as a "nuclear winter" last January. China's premier says they will "declare war" on pollution.

In Beijing last January, there were 671 micrograms of pollution in the air; the World Health Organization has determined that the safe amount is 25. Do the math and no wonder nearly everyone was wearing masks and many were succumbing to asthma attacks, serious breathing problems and heart attacks.

Right now, the United States is responsible for 6,000 million metric tons of carbon pollution, according to The New York Times. China has gone from 3,000 million metric tons in 2000 to about 9,000 today.

Now that is some pollution jump.

If one subscribes to the notion of American Exceptionalism, maybe it is right and proper and smart to take the lead on climate change and truly clean up our act if we expect other nations to do the same.

This is, after all, a problem that does not stop at national borders. We are all in this one together.

But back to Limbaugh and Obama.

Our science has been clear on the dangers of pollution since even before President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established. Since then, it has only gotten worse for the planet.

Would reasonable people deny that the sea levels are rising; our weather patterns are more extreme; our glaciers are melting at an alarming rate; and our seas are warmer and more acidic? Scientists now predict that unless we make the transition quickly to alternative fuels, cut back on the 40 percent of our electricity that comes from coal-fired power plants, and become more energy efficient, it may be too late for future generations.

But people need a crisis that stares them in the face and have trouble looking ahead several generations. So, right now, the Obama EPA tells us that by acting now, we can prevent 6,600 premature deaths a year, stop 150,000 asthma attacks a year and put an end to 490,000 missed school or work days.

Time is long past due for America to move on climate change; and time is long past due for those who deny climate change to wake up and smell the flowers, while they still can.

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