President Barack Obama told graduates at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., “to insist upon and shape an informed debate” about climate change, adding that climate change is not subject to “political spin.”
“Climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now,” he said in a commencement address.
Obama said the debate about climate change is “a perfect example” of astronomer Carl Sagan’s quote, “We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depths of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
“Now, I recognize it doesn’t feel like the planet is warmer right now. I understand. There was hail when I landed in Newark, but think about the climate change issue,” he said.
“Every day, there are officials in high office with responsibilities who mock the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientists that human activities and the release of carbon dioxide and methane and other substances are altering our climate in profound and dangerous ways,” the president said.
“A while back, you may have seen a United States senator trotted out a snowball during a floor speech in the middle of winter as ‘proof’ that the world was not warming,” Obama said, referring to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
“I mean, listen, climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now. If we don’t act, if we don’t follow through on the progress we made in Paris, the progress we’ve been making here at home, your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe,” Obama said.
“So it’s up to you to insist upon and shape an informed debate. Imagine if Benjamin Franklin had seen that senator with the snowball, what he would think. Imagine if your 5th grade science teacher had seen that. He’d get a D. And he’s a senator!” Obama added.
“Look, I’m not suggesting that cold analysis and hard data are ultimately more important in life than passion, or faith, or love, or loyalty,” he said. “I am suggesting that those highest expressions of our humanity can only flourish when our economy functions well, and proposed budgets add up, and our environment is protected.
“And to accomplish those things, to make collective decisions on behalf of a common good, we have to use our heads. We have to agree that facts and evidence matter, and we got to hold our leaders and ourselves accountable to know what the heck they’re talking about,” Obama said.