President Obama was in a good mood Tuesday night at the State of the Union. His “we can fix this” spirit and “built for this moment” words were signs of a White House ready to push a progressive agenda regardless of congressional support. For environmentalists, it proved a watershed moment. Obama discussed efforts to reduce pollution and seek sustainable sources of energy as signature domestic initatives on par with immigration reform and gun control. A new Senate bill on climate change will be introduced this week.
But despite the positive spirit, Obama also admitted defeat. For the first time at that podium, a president conceded that, when it comes to climate change, we are already too late. The litany of destruction that Mother Nature delivered during Obama’s first term will likely be repeated in the years ahead. Even subtracting Hurricane Sandy’s $60 billion price tag, the last two years have brought about utter devastation. There were at least 21 extreme events — floods, droughts, wildfires and storms — that each cost over $1 billion in disaster relief funding.