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Obama’s Alaska Climate Action Call Skips Over Congress

Obama departs the White House for Alaska on Monday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Obama departs the White House for Alaska on Monday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that President Barack Obama didn’t bother mentioning Congress when he made his remarks on climate change in Alaska late Monday. Republican leaders, after all, uniformly vilify his efforts to clamp down on carbon emissions.

Obama’s speech was aimed at a broader audience than Capitol Hill — intended as a rallying cry for a global agreement later this year in Paris — and a shot to the doubters and deniers.
Obama blamed shrinking glaciers, raging wildfires and rising sea levels on greenhouse gases and said now is the time to finally reach a global deal to reverse course, warning of an irreversible feedback loop if permafrost in areas such as Alaska melt and start emitting massive amounts of greenhouse gases too.
“The point is that climate change is no longer some far-off problem.  It is happening here.  It is happening now.  Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy, our infrastructure, human health, human safety — now. Today. And climate change is a trend that affects all trends — economic trends, security trends. Everything will be impacted. And it becomes more dramatic with each passing year,” he said.

His one mention of Congress was a backdrop to explain the shrinking of Alaska’s glaciers.

“To put that in perspective, one scientist described a gigaton of ice as a block the size of the National Mall in Washington — from Congress all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, four times as tall as the Washington Monument.  Now imagine 75 of those ice blocks.  That’s what Alaska’s glaciers alone lose each year.”


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