Sunday, June 15, 2014

President Obama's commencement address on climate change

Vox.com reprinted the transcript.  Select quotes follow but you can read the entire transcript here.

For lawmakers he had this:

These days, unfortunately, nothing is happening. Even minor energy efficiency bills are killed on the Senate floor. And the reason is because people are thinking about politics instead of thinking about what's good for the next generation. What's the point of public office if you're not going to use your power to help solve problems?

And for the graduates a plea to get involved.

And I want to tell you all this not to discourage you. I'm telling you all this because I want to light a fire under you. As the generation getting shortchanged by inaction on this issue, I want all of you to understand you cannot accept that this is the way it has to be. 

More quotes follow the break.

Obama addressed the deniers and "I am not a scientist":

[The deniers'] view may be wrong -- and a fairly serious threat to everybody's future -- but at least they have the brass to say what they actually think. There are some who also duck the question. They say -- when they're asked about climate change, they say, "Hey, look, I'm not a scientist." And I'll translate that for you. What that really means is, "I know that manmade climate change really is happening, but if I admit it, I'll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot, so I'm not going to admit it." (Applause.)
Now, I'm not a scientist either, but we've got some really good ones at NASA. I do know that the overwhelming majority of scientists who work on climate change, including some who once disputed the data, have put that debate to rest. The writer, Thomas Friedman, recently put it to me this way. He were talking, and he says, "Your kid is sick, you consult 100 doctors; 97 of them tell you to do this, three tell [you] to do that, and you want to go with the three?"

He did not spare the media.

And part of the challenge is that the media doesn't spend a lot of time covering climate change and letting average Americans know how it could impact our future. Now, the broadcast networks' nightly newscasts spend just a few minutes a month covering climate issues. On cable, the debate is usually between political pundits, not scientists. When we introduced those new anti-pollution standards a couple weeks ago, the instant reaction from the Washington's political press wasn't about what it would mean for our planet; it was what would it mean for an election six months from now. And that kind of misses the point. Of course, they're not scientists, either.

And he issued a call to action:

... we're Americans ... Even when our political system is consumed by small things, we are a people called to do big things. And progress on climate change is a big thing. Progress won't always be flashy; it will be measured in disasters averted, and lives saved, and a planet preserved -- and days just like this one, 20 years from now, and 50 years from now, and 100 years from now. But can you imagine a more worthy goal -- a more worthy legacy -- than protecting the world we leave to our children? 

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