Obama warned: It's now or never on global warming

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

In a bruising open letter to President Obama, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is urging the administration to give up its bungled, politically-driven green energy program to focus exclusively on new taxes and industries aimed at fixing global warming.

"You have the power and the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a new clean-energy policy that will help us avoid the worst consequences of climate change," said the letter, published in the MIT Technology Review. "It is quite possible that if this is not done over the next four years, it will be too late."

The now or never message said that since Obama won't face voters again in a election, he should take the risk of upsetting Americans by imposing a carbon tax and fund research projects that could cost trillions of dollars. "We can no longer pretend that addressing climate change will be without real costs," said the letter from the world's leading technology university.

MIT urged Obama to make climate change his No. 1 priority. "The potential for global warming over the next decades threatens consequences so dire that they could overwhelm any progress you make toward other long-term economic, social and political goals," said the letter.

The school gave Obama credit for using the 2009 stimulus bill to foster green energy, but said he made "painful mistakes" that "doomed" the effort. Worse, they said Obama's focus on "green jobs" was a failure that went to companies like Solyndra instead of new technologies. "That outcome," said MIT, "was an entirely unnecessary black eye for the clean-energy effort." It slammed Obama for searching for shovel ready green jobs, adding that "the rush to fund energy projects meand that the choices made were not always wise."

The letter said Obama should act now to cut carbon emissions and begin the path to ending global warming:

"This is a deeply unpalatable political message. It means immediate spending and economic sacrifice by present-day voters in order to achieve benefits that will be realized decades from now. And it must be done while millions of Americans are still skeptical that global warming is taking place or that it is caused by human activity. But as extensive and exacting analyses over the last decade have shown, we can no longer wait without risking dramatic upheavals in global security and the health and welfare of hundreds of millions of the world's inhabitants."