Over the course of Obama’s first four years as president, we watched him ‘evolve’ from a zealous, I-will-slow-the-rise-of-the-oceans climate change champion to a remarkably quiet almost-bystander on the whole debate. Now that his second term is secure, I’m sure we can expect that at least his rhetoric on the subject will once again reach much more vociferous levels, via The Hill:

President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign.

The president, in an interview for TIME’s Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years. …

“[O]n an issue like climate change, for example, I think for this country and the world to ask some very tough questions about what are we leaving behind, that weighs on you. And not to mention the fact I think that generation is much more environmentally aware than previous generations,” he told TIME.

Of course, the president did not get into policy specifics for the feel-good TIME interview, and he’s still holding back on a lot of major energy-related decisions that have sweeping implications for our economy (hydraulic fracturing regulations, drilling leases, natural gas, etcetera). But, at the urging of the green lobby and well-monied eco-radicals, no doubt, I’m sure we’ll keep on seeing taxpayer money being frivolously thrown at well-subsidized renewable ventures and completely backwards, prosperity-discouraging energy-manipulation in poorer countries, like this latest tidbit:

Imagine the United States sending low-calorie food aid to Ethiopia in response to the global obesity epidemic. Absurd, right? …

Sadly, that is pretty much what the United States does on energy. In response to rising global carbon dioxide emissions, the U.S. government put restrictions on the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a federal agency that is a principal tool for promoting investment in poor countries. A recent rule, added in response to a lawsuit brought by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, imposes blind caps on the total CO2 emissions in OPIC’s portfolio, which ends up barring the agency from nearly all non-renewable electricity projects.

Even if global carbon emissions are worrisome, it seems misplaced to ask people in poor countries to bear the costs of a problem they didn’t create. … The scale of energy poverty is such that sizable populations will still require old-school grid power.

“Misplaced” being the polite way of phrasing it.

By the way, in case you missed it, rational optimist Matt Ridley had a great piece on the latest news in climate-change science in the WSJ, definitely worth the full read:

In short: We can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the temperature is to carbon dioxide. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models. Comparing the trend in global temperature over the past 100-150 years with the change in “radiative forcing” (heating or cooling power) from carbon dioxide, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake, can now give a good estimate of climate sensitivity.

The conclusion—taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake—is this: A doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6°-1.7°C (2.9°-3.1°F). …

A cumulative change of less than 2°C by the end of this century will do no net harm. It will actually do net good—that much the IPCC scientists have already agreed upon in the last IPCC report. Rainfall will increase slightly, growing seasons will lengthen, Greenland’s ice cap will melt only very slowly, and so on.