Group Think: The opposite of traditional ''groupthink,'' our Group Think poses one question to a variety of smart thinkers for insightful perspectives on relevant issues.

What Should Obama Say About the ‘State of Our Union’?

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We asked writers, activists and academics to think big and write pie-in-the-sky parts of President Obama’s State of the Union address, which he’ll deliver on Tuesday. What would they like to hear from him about climate change, national security, education, unemployment, and more?

Their suggestions provide an educated and enlightened look at major challenges and possible solutions the president, Congress and our nation will be debating in the coming weeks and months.

Also tell us: If you could write Obama’s speech, what would you include? Share your national priorities in the comments below each contribution.


  • Jack Wolf

    About 10 years ago, I began to notice that most climate change reports and scientific papers use less than realistic emission scenarios in their calculations. Since these emissions are long lived, this has led to a deepening concern about the climate situation and its impacts, in my lifetime, and in your lifetime.

    This important talk by Dr. Anderson, link below, at the 2012 Cabot Lecture clearly points the finger at scientists and governments for not accurately reporting how bad the climate situation is. He also explains why we cannot meet the 2 degree C (3.8 F) target set by the world’s governments, and its impacts on us today. His talk is
    timely in light of the recent report from the World Bank that found:

    “Even with the current mitigation pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20% likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100. If they are not met, warming of 4°C could occur as early as the 2060s.”

    Globally, we are nowhere close to meeting our mitigation pledges and long lived CO2 emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at an accelerating rate. Dr. Anderson is very animated and I think you will find it enlightening.

  • Anonymous

    So how are those massive storms hitting your area. Mr. President? You riding them out pretty good? Unfortunately a lot of people don’t have a sturdy White House to live in, and things are getting dicey for them. Hate to tell you but you look like quite the hypocrite when you talk a good game on this problem and then do every thing you can to push the likes of that God awful pipeline back at the ole office. No economy will survive what is to come if this problem is not dealt with. How about less talk and a lot more action on this one sir?!

  • chemengr2

    What about fracking Mr. McKibben? Do you still believe NG to be the bridge to our sustainable enegry future?

  • James Newlin

    We need to build more walkable cities, increase the fuel tax by at least 400%, and maybe even reduce the number of hours we work. We also need to stop eating so damn much livestock in the developed world; the UN reported in 2006 eating livestock is 18% of our emissions right there. While it’s good to have tech fixes like testing the air barrier of our buildings and lightweight electric vehicles, it’s also important to change our habits so we’re living to ensure this planet will be able to support people who will be living here 200 years from now.

  • Hoping to heal/leave the 47%

    Why not bring something back like the CCC to put people to work doing things like reforestation, cleaning up waterways, cities, whatever? Give developers credit for building homes less than 1500 or 1200 sq. feet. Put solar energy on schools — most are ideally situated for that.

  • Elizabeth Giannini

    Watch Part 3 of David ” Life Stories” PBS Nature & you’ll understand how imperative it is to take action against climate change.

  • Steve Woodward

    If we had the leadership Mr Mckibbon visualizes, we could be carbon free in ten years. And make a profit while employing millions getting there.

  • Anonymous

    McKibben is right. This IS the issue on which we’ll be judged — Obama and all the rest of us. We should have started taxing carbon long ago; 34 other industrialized nations already do that. See for proposed legislation. Find out whether your legislators have even looked at the recent reports from NASA and the NOAA. Write, call, sign petitions like the one at
    We are all in this together.