What Should President-Elect Obama’s First Sustainable Act Be?

Barack Obama in front of flagIt’s been unusually quiet here on Sustainablog the past few days. I assume everyone was gearing up for yesterday. Perhaps we were all reading up on the issues we’d be voting for in our individual states. Perhaps we were out canvasing our neighborhoods, encouraging people to vote. Or, perhaps we were simply biting our nails in anticipation of yesterday instead of writing. But yesterday is over, and our country has a new president-elect, Barack Obama.

Congratulations, Senator Obama. You and your family have much to celebrate today. Your victory is historic and symbolic, but more importantly it is real. You will be President of the United States of America. You will be “the most powerful man in the world,” and the eyes of the world are on you. We’ll be looking for those changes you promised. Specifically around this blog, we’ll be looking for the changes you make in the environment.

So readers, I’m asking you, what should the new president do first to improve our environment? What do you want to see him tackle? If I had to guess, I would say that the majority of people who read this blog voted for Barack Obama yesterday. I could be wrong, but I’m probably not. What is it going to take, environmentally, for you to think your vote was well-placed? For those who didn’t vote for him, what could he do, environmentally, that would please you?

Image courtesy of transplanted mountaineer on flickr.

  1. Kyle C

    1. A national Renewable Portfolio Standard including solar carve-out and significant compliance payments for not meeting the standard

    2. An enforceable, significant price on carbon

  2. theoriginalgardener

    Congrats from France. Very pleased to see that things are going to change with Obama.
    Hope that your new President will take in account the good “things” we have already done in Europe especially decisions we took to address climate change and GES emissions.
    For instance: introduce a global carbon market, and ratify Kyoto protocol.

    Congrats again, and as you said, this election is historic, for USA and for the World.

    The originalgardener

  3. Cliff H.

    Quit subsidizing the auto industry and the oil industry. Let the chips fall where they may. Geology dictates that we must live a lower energy future, so we need to start dismantling our high energy auto-centric culture.

  4. Bobby B.

    He should first rebuke his Kenyan family members for the merciless slaughter of the animals that they used to celebrate their favorite son’s victory. Of course, the production of a valid birth certificate would negate the need to distance himself from those atrocities. Just kidding…

    Personally, I see P.E.B.H.O. as the Second Coming of Jimmy Carter, not any sort of messiah. The parallels are striking and I fully expect the results to be just as abysmal. Since “the majority of people who read this blog” have never heard of The Misery Index, they should open a history book to see what’s coming. I just HOPE that I have a little CHANGE in my pockets when it’s all over.

  5. Huckleberry

    I’d like to see him quickly start a Civilian Energy Conservation Corps, similar to FDR’s CCC, that would put people back to work, insulating houses, installing better windows, and working on our energy infrastructure.


  6. incognitoblue

    Year One: Clean Up Washington
    Make the dems/reps pass legitamate laws across the board to satisfy us all.

    Year Two: Strengthen Our Alliance
    Since we are trying to go green, eco-friendly, etc other countries that depend on our current cash flow will be upset and take there lack of prosperity out on weaker countries causing us to reaffirm our global military prominence.

    Year Three: Tax Revitalization
    In other words, we are in a recession, another form of the Great Depression, just more technology, politics, economy is on the table for redevelopment. The New Deal got us out of depression, what going to get us out of recession.

    Year Four: Prep for 2nd Term
    Now president in our history has ever came in and made a dominate effect during their first term. Simply because they spent the majority of their time correcting or polishing up the previous president’s plans of action.

  7. Justin Van Kleeck

    I have to agree with Bobby in discounting the widespread view that Obama is some savior figure in American (or world) politics. I look forward with relish to his administration, though I did not vote for him, and hope he can really implement some change on all levels–from environment to politics to economics.

    I think the first priority has to be revising the American energy policy. Taking an approach of improving the support and availability of many different types seems to me most logical–so that we can have different “wedges” in the pie-graph of resource usage contributing to the overall sustainability of how we consume power.

  8. Hurricane

    Geeze no one has pointed out the obvious thing:


    This should be a program on the scale of the Manhatten Project or the Space Race. We need a clear government funded R & D program to explore both the developement of “clean and safe” nuclear power and the developement of Fusion or other alternate form of producing electricity to power our grid.

    Now I know that this is quite an issue for some envirementalist to beleive that nuclear power can be concidered “green” but I feel nuclear and potentially fusion power can be the cleanest form of energy production ever created by mankind. The issue of waste disposal and reactor safety are problems I feel can be solved if we invest time, energy and money to do it.

    If we can acheive this final promise alluded to by nuclear power it will make alternative fuels largely irrelavent as swithcing over to a pure electrical system based on a backbone of nuclear/fusion power will eliminate the need for any combustible engine; stop drilling and spoiling of our envirement thru emmisions.

  9. Robin Shreeves

    I like Huckelberry’s idea because it puts people, and not just the government, in the position of doing something. I know I’m asking you all what you want the new president to do, but I believe that we must work side by side with government and do our part – not just expect the government to fix it.

  10. Bobby B.

    @incognitoblue – First, The New Deal did not get The United States out of The Great Depression. It helped, but the real relief came after FDR forced Japan to launch an attack against us on December 7, 1941 (Ref: β€œWhy did Japan attack us?” by Pat Buchanan, 12/11/2001). The United States citizenry was lead to believe that the attack was unprovoked and resolved itself to force Japan (and the Axis Powers) into submission. The Great Depression became but a memory after our leadership provided us with mortal enemies. Since the illusion of the β€œunprovoked” attack survived sixty years, it would be wise to pray that our new leadership does not employ a similar tactic.

    Second, thanks for providing a link to your page which subsequently provided a link to The Misery Index graphic. If you refer to it, you will see that the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 had an immediate, positive effect on this nation. That effect lasted throughout the 80’s and carried into the 90’s. Of course, Jimmy Carter had taken The Misery Index to extreme highs in the late 70’s and we were primed for some relief. If P.E.B.H.O. follows Carter’s example, do not expect a second term.

  11. Janet

    I think Obama’s first sustainable act should be taking his daughters to their local animal shelter to pick out their new puppy.

  12. EcoConnoisseur

    He needs to display “wisdom” and focus on the big 3. One may have to go down and the rise of a green player to replace the fallen may need to be his biggest move! If I was an advisor to President Obama, I would encourage him to not bailout anyone-else (excluding the middle class) and focus on transitioning from the traditional economic giants to investing in the new green giants! One of my own favorite quotes is:

    “I happen to deeply agree with the wisdom of Tom Friedman (that we cannot consume of way out of this mess and “Have you ever been to a revolution where nobody gets hurt?”). The fact is that the current economic conditions will cause a lot of companies to close their doors (websites too), and they will die off altogether due to lack of understanding the competitive (innovative) landscape. Just look at Detroit and the Big 3 for example! Those that will fight to stay alive will need to figure out β€” What’s Next?

    I believe that the New Green Economy will include the Rise of Green Real Estate Markets paired with the continued success of Cleantech, Clean Energy Markets, and large scale shifts toward Clean Transportation, and the Greening of the IT Industries (plus a fourth quarter of record investment!!), which will lead to a boom in “American Made” Green Collar Jobs and the creation of new wealth. The trick is: “who will get it right??” Execution makes all the difference for most of these opportunities and green investors need to pay more attention to the items that management claim they can achieve.” – Yeves Perez, Founder of EcoInvestmentClub.com – Nov 2008

    See more on talk on Fast Company:

  13. elizabeth dehart

    Crack down on the FDA.

    Few other industrialized countries allow Frankenfood like our FDA. RBST, GMO and fillers have got to go!

    If large agrobusiness had to follow these rules healthy food would be less expensive for everyone.

    Subsidies for organic, sustainable and biodynamic farming methods and fines for those do not comply.

  14. Francois

    Firstly on the agenda should be to STOP THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! Severely limit the influence of big corporations over governments of the US and the entire world. Look to a sustainable world vision. Share the wealth, technology and replenish the destruction we’ve caused by our greed for power and wealth. EDUCATE ALL the people with worthy content. Eliminate the fashist new laws primarily the Patriot Acts eminating from the whole Hollywood production we’ve come to know as 911. STAGED! We know it as the evidence is overwhelming. As a result I think we will see the economy correct itself.

  15. Michael

    We could seriously use a national research program into more natural nuclear technology. That may sound like an oxymoron, but isn’t necessarily. It’s the nature of the nuclear cycles that counts. What natural nuclear technology can do that artificial technology currently cannot is the recycling of heat itself. Current technology derives energy only from heat differences. That generates waste heat.

    We can build reactors that closely mimick the cycles in the sun. The surface of the sun is made of iron, and this is largely what drives the hydrogen atoms to fuse, not gravity. Iron captures the resulting heat and makes it coherent, which further drives the reaction.

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