Kerry promotes climate change in first speech
Syria is in flames, al-Qaeda is on the loose in Mali, Egypt is being Islamicized, North Korea has unleashed its nuclear program, Iran soon will, China is preparing to wage cyber war against us, Putin is giving us the finger...
And our new Secretary of State used his first major speech to promote climate change.
John Kerry used his first major speech as secretary of State to make that case that failing to confront climate change means missing big economic opportunities -- and worse.
"If we waste this opportunity, it may be the only thing our generation -- generations -- are remembered for. We need to find the courage to leave a far different legacy," Kerry said in a wide-ranging address Wednesday at the University of Virginia.
Kerry again signaled that he hopes to use his role as top diplomat to promote green energy technologies, arguing they can provide a major boost to U.S. industries in the "next great revolution in our marketplace."
He also cited the prospect of new markets for "America's second-to-none innovators and entrepreneurs."
"We need to commit ourselves to doing the smart thing and the right thing and to truly take on this challenge, because if we don't rise to meet it, then rising temperatures and rising sea levels will surely lead to rising costs down the road. Ask any insurance company," he said.
The Hill's Julian Pecquet has much more on the speech here.
The State Department represents the U.S. at ongoing international talks to craft a new global climate accord, and has an array of bilateral climate and green energy partnerships, among other global warming-related work.
Kerry is also under pressure from green groups to reject to proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline that State is reviewing.
Of course, climate change wasn't the only issue Kerry talked about. He also whined that Americans don't support foreign aid like they should:
"If you're looking for an applause line, it's about as guaranteed an applause line as you can get. But guess what: It does nothing to guarantee our security. It does nothing to guarantee a stronger country. It doesn't guarantee a sounder economy or a more stable job market."
Kerry said people should "say no to the politics of the lowest-common denominator and of simplistic slogans and start making real choices that protect the interests of our country."
The former senator delivered the remarks at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which was founded by America's first secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson. The speech came nine days before sequestration cuts are set to begin -- spending reductions that the State Department says would curtail programs such as humanitarian aid, AIDS relief efforts, foreign military financing and security for U.S. overseas diplomats and facilities.
Kerry urged the students to help make the case for foreign affairs funding as the federal government struggles to get its debt under control. He said the State Department doesn't have a powerful public advocate like Grover Norquist, who rallies opposition to tax increases on Capitol Hill.
"Unfortunately," he said, "the State Department doesn't have our own Grover Norquist pushing a pledge to protect it. We don't have millions of AARP seniors who send in their dues and rally to protect American investments overseas."
"The kids whose lives we're helping save from AIDS, the women we're helping to free from the horrors of sex trafficking, the students who for the first time can choose to walk into a school instead of into a short life of terrorism -- their strongest lobbyists are the rare, committed Americans who stand up for them and for the resources that we need to help them. And I hope that includes all of you here and many listening."
It's good to know that our new Secretary of State has got his priorities straight.