Anaheim, California (CNN) — Describing lawmakers and pundits who deny manmade climate change as a “fairly serious threat to everybody’s future,” President Obama on Saturday called for less debate and more action in combating warming trends.
Delivering the address at University of California Irvine’s commencement, Obama underscored the view of some scientists that the effects of climate change are already being felt nationwide and said he was allocating new funds for communities recovering from natural disasters.
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Speaking at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Obama compared the scientific problem of curbing climate change to that of putting a man on the moon. And while skeptics in the 1960s may have made a case against the mission, Obama said he couldn’t remember “saying the moon wasn’t there, or that it was made of cheese.”
“Today’s Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change,” he said. “They’ll tell you it’s a hoax, or a fad.”
Obama said Republicans had a long history of supporting environmental causes, naming Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush as examples of past presidents who did more than current GOP politicians.
“People are thinking about politics instead of thinking about what’s good for the next generation,” he added later.
The White House has taken on climate change as a top issue for Obama’s second term, announcing at the beginning of the month proposed new restrictions on power plants that would reduce emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030.
On Saturday Obama announced a $1 billion fund for towns and cities recovering from disasters. About $130 million is reserved for places affected by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy; the rest will be distributed nationwide.
Opponents of Obama’s actions on climate change— some of whom deny humans are responsible for climate change — say the rules will kill jobs and increase the cost of energy.
On Saturday Obama reserved his harshest criticism for politicians who he said avoid questions about climate by claiming a lack of knowledge — and a press he says ignores the issue.
Climate change deniers, he said, at least “have the brass to say what they actually think.”
Others, he said, duck questions about climate change by saying, “Hey, I’m not a scientist.”
“Let me translate: what that means is, ‘I accept that manmade climate change is real, but if I admit it, I’ll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot,’” he said.