What are President Barack Obama’s goals for the rest of his time in office? If his guests to his State of the Union speech Tuesday night are any indication, Obama is going to make a big push on global warming policy during his final years in power.
Obama has invited Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a former sea-level researcher turned environmental activist, to sit with Michelle Obama in the first lady’s box for his speech.
According to Politico, Hammer is “a sea level researcher formerly at Florida Atlantic University and now working for the Moms Clean Air Force and the Union of Concerned Scientists.” Hammer has also been vocal about global warming’s “disproportionate” effects on Hispanics.
Hammer’s presence in the first lady’s box could mean Obama is preparing to make a big global warming policy pitch to Congress.
“I’m anticipating hearing some good news about climate change and policies related to clean energy,” Hammer told The Washington Post. “It’s my understanding they choose folks that align with the policies that are going to be mentioned.”
Obama’s speech comes after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 2014 was the warmest year on record. Tuesday’s address also comes on the heels of a study saying sea-level rises have accelerated in recent years due to global warming.
The president may opt to tout the impact global warming is having on minority communities across the country. Hammer herself has pointed to a NOAA study stating 49 percent of Latinos live on the U.S. coasts — in total, 39 percent of Americans live on the coasts.
“I was looking at their list and I realized there were places I had family — in South Carolina, in Florida and Texas,” Hammer told the Post about the NOAA study.
Climate scientists have said that global warming could cause sea-levels rises from thermal expansion and melting ice sheets. Scientists have recently warned that the Arctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting at accelerated rates, even though global sea ice reached record highs last year.
Ice sheets, however, can take hundreds, even thousands, of year to melt. Over the centuries, ice sheets can even reform as the climate starts to cool again. For example, scientists say it would take thousands of years for all of Greenland’s ice to melt.
Even so it might be awkward for Obama to point to continued sea level rises since, since in a June 2008 speech, he called his nomination “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Hammer will not just be attending the State of the Union Address, she will also meet with Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy to join a White House event on getting more children involved in science and math.
“When I was kid growing up, there weren’t scientists who looked like me,” she told the Post.
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