This story was written by Audrey McGowan, The Duke Chronicle
Environmentalist Robert Gottlieb hopes President-elect Barack Obama will live up to his promise of changing President George W. Bush's lackluster environmental policies, he said during his lecture, "The New Environmentalism: After the 2008 Election," Tuesday in the Duke University Richard White Lecture Hall.The environment has been above politics and partisanship historically, but recently environmental reforms have become a part of the Democratic platform in reaction to Bush's poor policies, said Gottlieb, Henry R. Luce Professor of urban environmental studies and director of the Urban Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College."They put into practice some of the harshest, strongest anti-environmental policies," he said of the current administration.Speaking to a diverse audience of about 75 members, Gottlieb also discussed Obama's election and his expectation that the new president will take a more proactive stance on protecting the environment."As we sort out [Obama's] election and this new and challenging era we are about to encounter, we can envision a transformation," he added.The current economic situation is a major opportunity for the environmentalist movement, and the global crisis could allow for international dialogue about what needs to be done to protect the environment worldwide, Gottlieb said."The notion of a green economy needs to be a global, green economy," he emphasized.Obama's recent commitment to help the automobile industry would speed up the development of fuel-efficient cars, he added.Even though he has high hopes for Obama, Gottlieb warned that change in environmental policies may not come quickly from the Obama administration.The recent election, he said, had mobilized the environmental movement for a political candidate in a more unified and proactive way than ever before.He expressed hope that the young environmental activists who had gotten involved in Obama's campaign would play an important role in protecting the environment in the future. And in order for positive environmental policy to develop, Gottlieb said activists need to stay involved beyond the election."Having that base of energy, of enthusiasm, of participation is really important," he said.