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 Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend