President Obama Mocks Climate Deniers In UC Irvine Commencement Address

Taking time out of his busy golfing schedule to speak to graduates at the University of California Irvine this weekend, President Obama seized the moment as a way to "light a fire under" the graduates to get them to enlist in his regulation-heavy government-led climate change crusade.

The president spent a significant amount of time discussing what his administration has done thus far to combat climate change, what they plan on doing, and how the graduates can help. He even used the speech as an opportunity to mock those who question the legitimacy of man-made climate change. Obama also blamed his biggest boosters -- the media -- for not spending enough time airing coverage of climate change facts.

President Obama told the graduates that he was telling them about their need to get involved in fighting climate change because their "generation is getting shortchanged by inaction on this issue, I want all of you to understand you cannot accept that this is the way it has to be."

The president joked about members of Congress who "stubbornly and automatically reject climate change," taking a jab at Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) by reminding the students that when asked about climate change some legislators like to use the excuse that they aren't scientists. Obama told the graduates that he believes congressmen who reject climate change actually DO believe its a manmade issue, but they reject it because if they admit it they'll be '

"run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks manmade climate change is a liberal plot."

A president using a commencement address to tout an issue important to him is nothing new, but Mr. Obama took it a step further this weekend by calling out the other side by name (i.e.: Republicans, Tea Party, John McCain) and mocking them in an attempt to make them look stupid for not believing man's actions are changing the weather. The president called on the students to "invest in what helps and divest from what harms." He asked the students what the point of being an elected official is if "you're not going to use your power to help solve problems?"

One wonders if the people of Ukraine and Iraq are asking that about now.

The relevant portion of the president's address is transcribed below and can be viewed via YouTube here:

And 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. One member of Congress actually says the world is cooling. There was one member of Congress who mentioned a theory involving "dinosaur flatulence" -- which I won't get into. (Laughter.)

Now, their view may be wrong -- and a fairly serious threat to everybody's future -- but at least they have the brass to say what they actually think. There are some who also duck the question. They say -- when they're asked about climate change, they say, "Hey, look, I'm not a scientist." And I'll translate that for you. What that really means is, "I know that manmade climate change really is happening, but if I admit it, I'll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot, so I'm not going to admit it." (Applause.)

[...]

John McCain and other Republicans publicly supported free market-based cap-and-trade bills to slow carbon pollution just a few years ago -- before the Tea Party decided it was a massive threat to freedom and liberty. These days, unfortunately, nothing is happening. Even minor energy efficiency bills are killed on the Senate floor. And the reason is because people are thinking about politics instead of thinking about what's good for the next generation. What's the point of public office if you're not going to use your power to help solve problems?

And part of the challenge is that the media doesn't spend a lot of time covering climate change and letting average Americans know how it could impact our future.

[...]

And I want to tell you all this not to discourage you. I'm telling you all this because I want to light a fire under you. As the generation getting shortchanged by inaction on this issue, I want all of you to understand you cannot accept that this is the way it has to be.

[...]

You need to invest in what helps, and divest from what harms. And you've got to remind everyone who represents you, at every level of government, that doing something about climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.

[...]

So I ask your generation to help leave us that legacy. I ask you to believe in yourselves and in one another, and above all, when life gets you down or somebody tells you you can't do something, to believe in something better.

Jackie Seal
Jackie Seal is a 2014 summer intern with the MRC's News Analysis Division.