Obama visited Yosemite National Park for Father’s Day weekend, but took the time to give a speech Saturday about the beauty of the great outdoors, and what he has done to protect it.
His presidential podium was hauled out for the occasion, and, with the Yosemite Falls behind him, he reminded Americans that in August we celebrate the “100th birthday” of the national park system… but it’s all fast disappearing, due to climate change, he says.
Obama said his administration has protected more than 265 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any administration in history. He said his administration is 2nd in expanding the most public lands of any administration in history, and seen more victories in the endangered species act than any administration in history, from blackberries to sea turtles.
The president said that climate change is already destroying the national parks. “Make no mistake. Climate change is no longer just a threat. It’s already a reality,” he said. It’s affecting birds and animals… and causing wildfires. In fact, “Wildfires are raging across the west right now,” he reminded his audience. “Rising temperatures could mean no more glaciers, rising seas could destroy vital eco-systems in the everglades.” He said even the State of Liberty and Ellis Island are threatened.
“That’s not the America I want to pass on to the next generation. That’s not the legacy I think any of us want to leave behind. The idea that these places that sear themselves into your memory could be marred or lost to history, that’s to be taken seriously. We can’t treat these things as something that we deal with later,” Obama said. “On this issue, unlike a lot of issues, there’s such a thing as being too late.”
Meanwhile, on serious matters, the Obama administration is editing out references to Islam and ISIS from the transcripts of the Orlando gunman’s calls, to “avoid promoting his propaganda.”
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