Each January since 2009, President Obama has been faced with quite a challenge. He not only has to face his opponents, and — since 2011 — the very tan, very drawn face of John Boehner, but he has to tell the U.S. citizens (well, those not watching Supernatural, anyway) exactly what he intends to do in the next 12 months. And, during Obama's 2015 State of the Union speech, he broached many, many subjects, including equal pay, ISIS, and middle-class tax reforms. And though most issues took up no more than a sentence of space, the president dedicated several minutes of the State of the Union to one topic in particular: Obama's views on climate change.
Because, as the president himself said, nothing is "a greater threat" to our country than global warming. And that's a pretty big statement, considering Obama had just finished talking about ISIS — which has become a growing threat as the group continues to threaten the West, and made headlines Tuesday for endangering two Japanese hostages. So, yep, I'd say Obama is pretty worried about climate change. As the transcript for Obama's speech read:
No challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.
2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does — 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.
And since Obama came armed with scientific fact, it's of little surprise he used the opportunity at the podium to admonish those who still credit conspiracy theories surrounding climate change. (And, yes, many of those people are conservatives who have sat in Congress themselves.)
I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.
That's right — "I'm not a scientist, either." Them's fighting words, GOP.
So what does Obama suggest we do, particularly in his final years as president? Well, it's not precisely clear. Though Obama's State of the Union name-checked efforts throughout his presidency to reduce the danger presented by global warming — including U.S. and China's landmark deal — his plans to get the rest of the world on board were not quite as clear-cut.
That’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever before to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy, to the way we use it. That’s why we’ve set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history. And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts. I am determined to make sure American leadership drives international action. In Beijing, we made an historic announcement — the United States will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution, and China committed, for the first time, to limiting their emissions. And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got.
Still, Obama's State of the Union proved to provide promising words on the fight against global warming. After all, even if just four paragraphs in a speech were devoted to it, that's a hell of a lot more attention than some other leaders have given the cause.