By Laura Barron-Lopez - 08/13/14 10:58 AM EDT
Former President Carter says climate skeptics are the "biggest handicap" for the U.S. when it comes to acting on global warming.
“I would say the biggest handicap we have right now is some nutcases in our country that don’t believe in global warming,” Carter said Tuesday during the American Renewable Energy Day summit in Aspen, Colo.
The 39th president expressed frustration with the administration and Congress on their lack of efforts to mitigate climate change, arguing that the U.S. is lagging behind other countries on the issue, the Aspen Times reports.
“I was a bit disappointed he took a wait and see approach during his first five or six years in office, but he’s moving now,” Carter said of President Obama.
Despite the administration's actions, Carter said, the U.S. is "right at the bottom."
“We still only have about 10 percent of our energy from renewables," he said. "So we have a tremendous opportunity to do what other countries have done that we haven’t tapped yet."
Carter said the U.S. should be a leader on climate change in the same way it is militarily, claiming aggressive leadership on global warming would put the country in the position of a real superpower.
“I think that we’re going to begin to realize that being a major superpower on Earth is not just who dominates economics and military,” he said. “I would say that one of the characteristics of a superpower is to take leadership on issues that could afflict the rest of the world, and I say climate change is one of those symbolic, but very tangibly important issues that would put the United States in the role of a true superpower.”
Carter also called for a tax on carbon pollution, which he says is "the only reasonable approach."