US President Barack Obama said climate change can no longer be denied and criticised those who refuse to recognise it.
“If you’ve got a coming storm, you don’t stick your head in the sand; you prepare for the storm. You make sure our communities are prepared for climate change. And that’s an economic imperative,” Obama said.
He said it can no longer be left to the coming generations but be tackled now and from now onwards. He stressed for immediate measures to mitigate the effects of climate change across the globe.
In his Earth Day address on Wednesday at the Everglades National Park, he chose the park since global warming threatened the 600,000-hectare (1.5-million-acre) park and the communities that depended on it, posing a risk to the $82 billion tourist industry.
“It (climate change) has serious implications for the way we live right now. Stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wildfire seasons,” Obama said, adding that the Pentagon also viewed it as posing an “increasing set of risks to our national security”.
The US president said that $2.2 billion had been spent on restoration of the Everglades and another 240 million for the South Florida wetland system to restore its natural water flow this year will be spent.
Obama also announced $25 million in public and private funding for restoration projects at the US national parks, citing a report that said “every dollar invested in the National Park Service generates $10 for the economy.”
Obama reminded that five years ago local Republicans and Democrats came together to form the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact — “an agreement to work together to fight climate change” that has become a “model not just for the country but for the world”.
Despite Obama’s appeals, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who had repeatedly said that he was not convinced by the science of climate change, declined a formal invitation to attend Obama’s speech.