Obama Blasts Climate Deniers and Calls for a Clean-Energy Revolution

“If anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely.”


Fresh off the historic Paris climate change agreement, President Barack Obama used his final State of the Union address Tuesday night to urge Congress to finally act on global warming.

“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it,” Obama said. “You will be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

“Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there.”

Of course, many of the politicians whom the president was addressing still do want to dispute the science. That includes Ted Cruz, the current Republican presidential front-runner in Iowa. While the Obama administration was busy hashing out the Paris agreement in December, Cruz literally was debating with the US military (the retired oceanographer of the Navy, anyway) on the realities of climate science.

Obama sought to push past these distractions by broadly outlining how he planned to address the problem in his final year in office. “We’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources,” he said. Obama criticized fossil fuel subsidies. He nodded to one of the top priorities of environmental activists when he said he planned to “push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.” And he called for putting “tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st-century transportation system.”

Still, Obama couldn’t resist taking a shot at his Republican critics who reject scientific facts. “Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there,” he said. “We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and 12 years later, we were walking on the moon.”

Obama has made big climate policy promises before. My colleague Tim McDonnell examines the mixed results of proposals the president laid out in his past seven State of the Union speeches in the video below:

* This post has been revised.

Master image: Rena Schild/Shutterstock

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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