When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid.
Since Clinton's inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas.
The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton's second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it.
"The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over," he said on Tuesday after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. "We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now that this is a matter of urgency and national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way."
But some leading scientist disagree with these assumptions:
They say the report, which was published on Monday, contained sweeping scientific errors and was a one-sided portrayal of a complicated issue.There are many that believe that climate change will be a top priority for the incoming Obama administration, but bioenergy, the environment and other new pushes for technology taking center stage. Yesterday Steven Chu was named Secretary of Energy. Chu is a Nobel Prize winning scientist who currently heads the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California. This lab is one of the partners in the Energy Bioscience Institute (EBI) that is being funded by British Petroleum (BP) in conjunction with University of California at Berkley and the University of Illinois.
"If the issues weren't so serious and the ramifications so profound, I would have to laugh at it," said David Deming, a geology professor at the University of Oklahoma who has been critical of media reporting on the climate change issue.
Many see Chu's appointment as a clear sign the new admistration will be headed. But what will this mean for Agriculture? The Secretary of Agriculture nominee has not yet been named, but this could also give some indication where things will go. Over the last few years DOE and USDA have been cooperating on bionergy efforts and recently released a new report "Increasing Feedstock Production for Biofuels: Economic Drivers, Environmental Implications, and the Role of Research".
With a federal mandate in place to increase the amount of renewable fuels, the future of agriculture is still bright. But sound science and policy will be needed to ensure decisions are based on facts and not just politics.