If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet's biggest oil producer and Russia as the world's biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we've begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine.
And this is no joke. The surprise drop of a new Beyonce album may be on the minds of most Americans under the age of 40 this week, but maybe what we really should be getting all crazy about is the fact that it's almost 'game over' for the climate, according to recently retired senior climate scientist James Hansen. Pretty may hurt, but dead oceans, water shortages, endless droughts, killer typhoons and devastated ecosystems hurt a lot worse.