On Earth Day April 22 President Obama visited the Florida Everglades for Earth Day and spoke about the urgent need for action on climate change. The President called on Congress to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He spoke about the importance of providing access to nature and announced that he will be providing free access to America’s national parks.
“I cant think of a better way to spend Earth Day than in one our nations greatest national treasures the Everglades” the President said. “Action [on climate change] can no long be delayed.”
Here are some excerpts of the President’s comments:
This [climate change] is not a problem for another generation. Not anymore. This is a problem now. It has serious implications for the way we live right now. Stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wildfire seasons. The world’s top climate scientists are warning that a changing climate already affects the air that our children are breathing. The Surgeon General and I recently met with doctors and nurses and parents who see patients and kids grappling with the health impacts. The Pentagon says that climate change poses an increasing set of risks to our national security.
So climate change can no longer be denied. It can’t be edited out. It can’t be omitted from the conversation. And action can no longer be delayed. And that’s why I’ve committed the United States to lead the world in combating this threat.
The steps we’ve taken over the last several years are already making a difference. We’re using more clean energy than ever before. America is number one in wind power, and last year we generated 20 times more electricity from sunlight than we did in all of 2008 — 20 times.
We’ve committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution. China, in part because of our actions, has now committed for the first time to limit their emissions. And this means that there’s new hope that this year the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late.
We’re wasting less energy, with more fuel-efficient cars that save people money at the pump, and more energy-efficient buildings that save us money on our electricity bills.
So more clean energy, improved energy efficiency — these steps can help us avoid some of the worst effects of climate change down the road. But we also have to prepare for the effects of climate change that we’re already too late to avoid. If you think about it, this is like we’re hitting the brakes on a car, but the car is not going to come to a complete halt right away. So some of these changes are already happening, and even if we take the right steps, we’re going to have to make some adaptations.
And that’s why we’ve been working with cities and states to build more resilient infrastructure and restore natural defenses like wetlands. And today, I want to announce new actions to protect our national parks and our public lands, and the communities that rely on them.
First, we’re releasing a report showing that every dollar invested in the National Park Service generates $10 for the economy. In 2014, almost 300 million visitors to our national parks spent almost $16 billion and supported 277,000 jobs. So protecting our parks is a smart thing to do for our economy. That’s why I’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.
We’re also working with farmers and ranchers and forest land owners to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions. I’m going to keep doing everything I can to prepare and protect America from the worst effects of climate change, including fighting for clean air, clean water.
…you do not have time to deny the effects of climate change…This is not some impossible problem that we cannot solve. We can solve it if we’ve got some political will. And we can solve it in a way that creates jobs. We can solve it in a way that doesn’t disrupt our economy but enhances our economy. And it’s a bipartisan issue.
On the way in, I was talking to some folks about the fact that Teddy Roosevelt, he’s a Republican — started our National Park System. Richard Nixon started the EPA. George H.W. Bush was the first President, globally, to acknowledge the impacts of climate change and that we needed to do something about it. This is not something that historically should be a partisan issue.
Five years ago, local leaders down here, Republicans and Democrats, formed the bipartisan Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact — an agreement to work together to fight climate change. (Applause.) And it’s become a model not just for the country, but for the world.
It’s the type of mission that Americans from all walks of life are taking on — from the CEOs of some of our biggest corporations and utilities, to student organizations across the country. Because they know that simply refusing to say the words “climate change” doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening.
And we know that in our own lives. If you’ve got a coming storm, you don’t stick your head in the sand; you prepare for the storm. You make sure our communities are prepared for climate change. And that’s an economic imperative. Protecting the one planet we’ve got is what we have to do for the next generation…That’s what we do as Americans, take responsibility and leave behind for our children something special.
And we are blessed with the most beautiful God-given landscape in the world. It’s an incredible bounty that’s been given to us. But we’ve got to be good stewards for it. We have to take care of it.
…it’s our turn to ensure that this remains the birthright of all Americans for generations to come. So many people here are active in your communities, doing what’s needed. The young people who are here, the next generation, they’re way ahead of us in understanding how important this is. Let’s make sure we don’t disappoint them. Let’s stand up and do what’s right before it’s too late.
Responding to Grist’s Anti-Earth Day Rants
Earth Day Review of American Environmental Attitudes
The Importance of Science and Nature on Earth Day
Earth Day Activities and Actions in the US and Canada
Earth Day 2015: The Marriage of Economic Growth and Sustainability