Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama had an opportunity to demonstrate bold leadership at the world's highest-level summit on climate change. Obama's stated commitment for the US to finally engage with the rest of the world in tackling the climate crisis was laudable. Unfortunately, his words belied a true understanding of the challenges we really face.
Obama spoke of ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, but then embraced "clean coal" technology—a boondoggle that will only make us more dependent on the most damaging of all fossil fuels. Worse still was his continued promotion of the fundamentally broken paradigm of unending growth: "Our goal is simple: a global economy in which growth is sustained, and opportunity is available to all." Until Obama and other world leaders see the correlation between unrelenting growth and crises like climate change and energy depletion, we'll be left with empty rhetoric and false solutions.
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