President Barack Obama spoke critically of climate change deniers on Aug. 31, during his trip to Alaska.
Obama said, “We’re starting to see that enough consensus is being built internationally and within each of our own body politics that we may have the political will, finally, to get moving,” Obama said of climate change politics, reports The Hill.
“So the time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past," Obama said during his speech at the GLACIER Conference in Anchorage. "Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island," Obama said.
President Obama’s administration has repeatedly made it clear that climate change is a national security issue and a top threat to the U.S. and other countries. The issue is a threat as large as terrorism, the president has said.
On his trip to Alaska, Obama echoed that sentiment. He described climate change as “a challenge that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other.”
The administration is hoping to keep climate change in the spotlight up until the international conference on climate change in Paris in December.
While Obama pressed for urgent action against climate change and highlighted the toll of the rising temperatures in Alaska, environmental activists have accused him of hypocrisy.
The administration recently decided to formalize Royal Dutch Shell’s permit to drill for oil off of Alaska’s northwest coast. Protests in Alaska Washington and Oregon were planned for Aug. 31 against the administration’s approval of arctic drilling.
“We think it’s deeply hypocritical,” said a spokesman for Greenpeace, Travis Nichols. “For a president who’s done so much for the climate, to see him do something that could undo that is a real tragedy.”
Other environmentalists are concerned with the possibility of an oil spill, similar to the 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, in a sensitive environment like the Arctic Circle. They say it could devastate the livelihood of Alaskans, reports Al Jazeera America.
The environmental group Clean Air Task Force found in a recent study that drilling would likely cause large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas, and black carbon, two major contributors to global warming. Oil drilling is also linked to ocean acidification, which the Environmental Protection Agency says is a threat to biodiversity.