Saturday morning, President Obama gave a speech on climate change — to preview a bigger speech on climate change.
In the President’s weekly Saturday morning address, he declared that he’s headed to the Florida Everglades Wednesday — Earth Day — to “talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy.”
“The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country,” the president said. “But it’s also one of the most fragile. Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure — and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry — at risk.”
“Climate change can no longer be denied — or ignored,” said Obama.
Indeed, in much of South Florida and especially Southeast Florida, climate change is an accepted reality for regional government leaders who have organized themselves into the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, an agreement by Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe Counties to collaborate on climate change adaptation measures for Florida and its coastal communities.
However, the issue remains more widely politicized in the state. Governor Rick Scott’s administration has been accused of trying to “ban” mentions of the climate issue by state environmental officials, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a just announced presidential candidate, recently voted against an amendment stating that climate change is real and “human activity significantly contributes” to it.
Another expected presidential contender from Florida, Jeb Bush, commented Thursday, “Look, the climate is changing. Obviously it’s changing. Down where I live … in a place where you’re pretty close to sea level, a couple of inches starts having an impact.”
By going to Florida to address climate change, then, President Obama could force more of a focus on the state’s unique vulnerability — where flooding and spoiling of water supplies by saltwater are already recurrent problems — and where its politicians stand on that.
In his address, Obama also suggested that 2015 could be a year of major progress on climate change — citing how the U.S.’s agreement late last year with China to cut carbon emissions could lay the groundwork for a global agreement in Paris late this year.
“Because the world’s two largest economies came together, there’s new hope that, with American leadership, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late,” Obama said.
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