The PJ Tatler

Obama: Climate Change Deniers 'on Their Own Shrinking Island'

President Obama told a conference in Alaska that people don’t want to take action against climate change because “we don’t want our lifestyles disrupted,” but argued that “few things will disrupt our lives as profoundly as climate change.”

“We know that human activity is changing the climate. That is beyond dispute,” Obama told the GLACIER Conference on his trip to Anchorage. “Everything else is politics if people are denying the facts of climate change. We can have a legitimate debate about how we are going to address this problem; we cannot deny the science.”

“We also know the devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue. That is not deniable. And we are going to have to do some adaptation, and we are going to have to help communities be resilient, because of these trend lines we are not going to be able to stop on a dime. We’re not going to be able to stop tomorrow.”

But, the president argued, “if those trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this Earth that’s not impacted negatively.”

“People will suffer. Economies will suffer. Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems. More drought; more floods; rising sea levels; greater migration; more refugees; more scarcity; more conflict,” he said.

Addressing the conference before Obama arrived from Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry compared climate change to World War II: “different in character,” but with the same “potential to do harm.”

Obama said “we’re starting to see that enough consensus is being built internationally and within each of our own body politics that we may have the political will — finally — to get moving.”

“So the time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past. Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island,” he declared. “…We are gradually powering a planet on its way to 9 billion humans in a more sustainable way. These are good things. This is not simply a danger to be avoided; this is an opportunity to be seized. But we have to keep going. We’re making a difference, but we have to keep going. We are not moving fast enough.”

“If we were to abandon our course of action, if we stop trying to build a clean-energy economy and reduce carbon pollution, if we do nothing to keep the glaciers from melting faster, and oceans from rising faster, and forests from burning faster, and storms from growing stronger, we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair: Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields no longer growing. Indigenous peoples who can’t carry out traditions that stretch back millennia. Entire industries of people who can’t practice their livelihoods. Desperate refugees seeking the sanctuary of nations not their own. Political disruptions that could trigger multiple conflicts around the globe.”

Obama added that the moment of being “too late… is almost upon us.”

“I am not trying to suggest that there are not going to be difficult transitions that we all have to make,” he said. “…Let’s prove that we care about them and their long-term futures, not just short-term political expediency.”