Speaking at the largest conservation event in the world, President Obama said, “No nation, not even one as powerful as the United States, is immune from a changing climate.”
The president was delivering an address at the East-West Center in Honolulu this week, to an audience of delegates from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress and the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders.
The World Conservation Congress has never before been hosted in the States, though it has gathered to discuss environmental issues every four years for nearly 70 years.
Obama focused on the strides his administration has made on environmental issues in the last eight years. Specifically, he discussed his move last week to dramatically enlarge the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian islands.
“I have to say that Teddy Roosevelt gets credit for starting the National Park System, but when you include a big chunk of the Pacific Ocean, we have now actually done more acreage,” he said.
Before his speech in Hawaii, Obama spoke to a crowd at Lake Tahoe about the same issues, calling the conservation effort “more critical, more urgent than ever.”
“When we protect our lands, it helps us protect the climate of the future,” Obama said. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV), California Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were also in attendance.
He also took a thinly-veiled jab at Republican climate change deniers in Nevada, stating: “You don’t have to be a scientist. You have to read or listen to scientists to know that the overwhelming body of science shows us that climate change is caused by human activity.”
Obama re-focused on the need for action on climate change in Honolulu, telling the crowd, “When it comes to climate change, there’s a dire possibility of us getting off-course, and we can’t allow that to happen.”
Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the environment and climate change at the 20th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit at Harvey’s in Stateline, Nevada, U.S. August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst