(CNN) - President Barack Obama continued to push his aggressive climate change plan, urging Americans in his weekly address Saturday to contact their representatives and remind them "there is no contradiction between a sound environment and a strong economy."
"The question is not whether we need to act," he said. "The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late."
He pointed to present day effects of the changing climate, saying firefighters who brave mammoth wildfires and farmers who lose their crops from droughts know all too well the impact of warming temperatures.
"The cost of these events can be measured in lost lives and livelihoods, lost homes and businesses, and hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief," he said. "And Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in higher food costs, insurance premiums, and the tab for rebuilding."
Obama on Tuesday laid out a series of new steps to combat carbon pollution, including proposals to create new standards on existing carbon-fueled power plants and other executive actions that don't require congressional approval.
He also pledged global leadership on climate change and to redouble U.S. efforts to fight it.
Opponents were quick to attack his sweeping proposals, arguing the new regulations on carbon-fueled power plants–the source of 40% of the country's electricity–will cause a surge in costs and burn holes in Americans' pockets.
But the president said the benefits will far outweigh the costs.
"Those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of our children," he said.
- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.