At Commencement Speech, Obama Warns Of Climate Change Amid Record Cold Temperatures In New Jersey

resident Barack Obama receives an honorary doctorate of laws while attending the 250th anniversary commencement ceremony at Rutgers University on May 15, 2016 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

President Barack Obama probably needed his gown to keep him warm as he delivered a commencement speech at Rutgers University amid historically cold temperatures in New Jersey.

But as he touted global warming, Obama denied that colder than usual temperatures meant that climate change didn’t exist.

“Now, I recognize it doesn’t feel like the planet is warmer right now. I understand,” he said, acknowledging that there was hail when he landed on Air Force One in Newark.

But Obama insisted that it was still a reality, citing “overwhelming consensus” from the scientific community to back his claim. He also mocked Republican critics who used the weather to suggest that climate change wasn’t real. He referred directly to the stunt by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in which he threw a snowball on the Senate floor.

“A while back, you may have seen a United States senator trotted out a snowball during a floor speech in the middle of winter as ‘proof’ that the world was not warming,” he said as the audience laughed with him. “Imagine if Benjamin Franklin had seen that senator with the snowball, what he would think. Imagine if your 5th grade science teacher had seen that. He’d get a D. And he’s a senator!”

Obama told graduates that climate change was not an issue that could be ignored.

“I mean, listen, climate change is not something subject to political spin. There is evidence. There are facts. We can see it happening right now,” he said, adding that “your generation will feel the brunt of this catastrophe.”

He told them that “facts” and evidence were more important than ever, cautioning against what he called lies and conspiracies that exist on the internet.

“We assume whatever is on the web must be true. We search for sites that just reinforce our own predispositions. Opinions masquerade as facts,” he complained. “The wildest conspiracy theories are taken for gospel.”

As his speech went on, Obama again acknowledged the cold weather as he wrapped up the points of his argument.

“I know it’s getting cold and you guys have to graduate,” he said.


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