ON CLIMATE

Associated Press
People watch the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. Thousands  marched during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade after the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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People watch the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. Thousands marched during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade after the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A look at the issues that those who govern the country will face during Barack Obama's second term. Up now: the climate.

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President Barack Obama is picking a fresh fight on climate change, saying in his inaugural address that a failure to act to curb it would betray future generations. He's hoping to tackle the issue — and live up to his prediction during the 2008 campaign that he would. But addressing the matter will be difficult.

The president has acknowledged that climate change was pushed to the back burner during his first term while he dealt with wrenching economic challenges and spent much of his political capital on reforming health care. But now he appears to be trying to make the case for action by pointing to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, annual wildfires and droughts rivaling the Dust Bowl.

Says Obama: "Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought and more powerful storms."

Even amid the natural disasters, any attempt to respond to global warming faces a daunting prospect in Congress, where legislation narrowly cleared the House in 2009 but died in the Senate. Republicans control the House now and many Democrats in the Senate view the issue with suspicion — especially about a half-dozen Senate Democrats facing re-election next year who represent states carried by Republican Mitt Romney.

When Obama won enough support in the Democratic primaries to secure the 2008 Democratic nomination, he said future generations would look back at that night as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." Heading into his second term, one of the main questions is whether he meets that test.

— Ken Thomas — Twitter http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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Inauguration Watch follows the events of President Barack Obama's second inaugural. Look for short items and photos throughout the day.

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