The Arctic is at the leading edge of climate change, and it is warming faster than any other region on earth, twice the rate of the global average.
“Human activity is disrupting the climate, in many ways faster than we previously thought. The science is stark. It is sharpening. It proves that this once-distant threat is now very much in the present,” said President Barack Obama at the GLACIER Conference in Anchorage, Alaska:
“Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies, our energy, our infrastructure, human health, human safety -- now. Today. And climate change is a trend that affects all trends -- economic trends, security trends. Everything will be impacted. And it becomes more dramatic with each passing year.”
The United States recognizes its role in creating this problem, said President Obama. We may not be able to reverse the damage, but we have the scientific imagination and technological innovation to avoid irreparable harm.
Since 2009, the United States has made tremendous investments into clean energy, energy efficiency, and reduction of carbon emissions from vehicles and buildings. And in August, President Obama set a nationwide standard to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants: the most important step the United States has ever taken on climate change.
“We are proving that there doesn’t have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth. But we’re not moving fast enough. None of the nations represented here are moving fast enough,” said President Obama.
This sense of urgency is driving the international community to reach an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Paris, France, later this year.
“We know that human activity is changing the climate. That is beyond dispute. . . . We can have a legitimate debate about how we are going to address this problem; we cannot deny the science. We also know the devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue. That is not deniable,” said President Obama.
“On this issue, of all issues, there is such a thing as being too late. That moment is almost upon us.”