ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama said denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese, as he issued a call to action on global warming to Saturday's graduates of the University of California, Irvine.
Obama issued a call to action to the tens of thousands gathered at Angel Stadium even though he said Congress "is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence" and say climate change is a hoax or fad.
"Many others duck the question by saying, 'Hey, I'm not a scientist,'" Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery. "Let me translate: what that means is, 'I accept that manmade climate change is real, but if I admit it, I'll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot.'"
Obama's address to about 8,000 graduates from the Orange County campus comes two weeks after he announced a contentious plan to dramatically cut pollution from power plants. Obama also used the address to announce a $1 billion competitive fund for communities who have experienced natural disasters to rebuild and prepare for the impact of extreme weather.
He described a political system consumed by "small things" but said Americans should be determined to do "big things" like addressing climate change, despite the type of opposition he faces from Congress.
"No matter what you do in life, you will run up against a stubborn status quo and people determined to stymie your best efforts, who say you can't do something and shouldn't bother trying. I've got some experience with this myself," Obama said.
"I've got to admit, though, it's pretty rare that you'll encounter someone who says the problem you're trying to solve doesn't even exist," he continued. "When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, I'm sure some made a serious case that it wouldn't be worth it. But I don't remember anyone ignoring science. I don't remember anyone saying the moon wasn't real, or that it was made of cheese."
Obama said today's young dreams are fed a steady diet of cynicism but argued they have a right to be optimistic.
"Consider this: since the time most of you graduated from high school, fewer Americans are at war," Obama said. "More have health insurance. More are graduating from college. Our businesses have added more than nine million jobs. And the number of states where you're free to marry who you love has more than doubled. That's just some of the progress you've seen over your four years at UC Irvine."
While in Orange County, Obama also raised money for the Democratic National Committee at a closed-door fundraiser at the Laguna Beach home of Getty oil heiress Anne Earhart. About 25 people paid up to $32,400 to participate in a roundtable discussion with the president.
He's spending the rest of the Father's Day weekend on vacation at the Rancho Mirage home of White House decorator Michael Smith and his partner, U.S. Ambassador to Spain James Costos.
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