US President Barack Obama speaks during the commencement
ceremony for the University of California, Irvine at Angels
Stadium in Anaheim, California. REUTERS/Larry Downing
With a feisty tone and a touch of aggravation, President
Barack Obama laid into Republicans who question the science of
climate change and urged graduating college students to take on
global warming as a cause.
A few weeks after unveiling rules to limit carbon emissions
from power plants, Obama used a commencement address for the
University of California, Irvine, to rally support from young
people and slam opponents for denying that climate change is
"When President Kennedy ... set us on a course for the moon,
there were a number of people who made a serious case that it
wouldn't be worth it ... but nobody ignored the science. I
don't remember anybody saying that the moon wasn't there, or
that it was made of cheese," he said.
"Today's Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly
and automatically reject the scientific evidence about
climate change. They will tell you it is a hoax, or a fad."
Obama said some climate questioners ducked the issue by
asserting they were not scientists themselves.
"I'm not a scientist either, but we've got some really good
ones at NASA. I do know that the overwhelming majority of
scientists who work on climate change, including some who
once disputed the data, have put that debate to rest."
Most scientists say the earth is warming and human beings are
contributing to it, but the issue is politically
controversial. Many Republicans and some Democrats oppose
Obama's plans to limit emissions from power plants because of
the potential economic consequences.
Obama's record on climate change is also under fire from some
environmentalists, who are pressing his administration to
deny approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring
oil from Canada to the US Gulf Coast.
Young people make up a critical part of the Democratic
Party's political base, and Obama urged the graduates to be
motivated to fight global warming as they left the world of
Climate change is becoming a major legacy issue for Obama and
a hot topic in this year's congressional elections. Before
the commencement ceremony, the president attended a
Democratic fundraiser at the home of environmental activist
About 25 supporters attended, contributing up to $32,400
each, according to the Democratic National Committee.
In his speech, Obama announced a competition for communities
hit by extreme weather to compete for $1 billion in funds to
rebuild from and inoculate themselves against natural