Obama's decision to open up vast swaths of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans to oil and gas exploration sets a very bad precedent for other countries when it comes to dealing with climate change, argues the Economist's "Democracy in America" blog:

"Some of those who object to Barack Obama's decision to open up America's south-central Atlantic coast to oil drilling say it makes neither environmental nor political sense. I disagree with the last part; the political logic is reasonable enough.

"As energy or environmental policy [though ...], the fundamental problem is this: there is a finite amount of fossil fuel. The more of it we find and burn, the more carbon we put into the atmosphere, and the more severe the greenhouse effect becomes. [...] If we want to limit climate change, what we have to do, one way or another, is to leave fuels in the ground wherever possible, not find and burn them. [...]

"The world's richest country should have the easiest time of shifting to alternative energy sources and leaving some of that carbon lying in the ground. It's very discouraging that political considerations would push it to do otherwise."

Read the full article here.