President Obama will travel to Florida's scenic Everglades National Park on Wednesday to deliver an Earth Day speech on the threat climate change poses to the U.S. economy, he announced Saturday.
"The fact that the climate is changing has very serious implications for the way we live now," Obama said in his weekly address to the nation. "Stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wildfire seasons. The world’s top climate scientists are warning us that a changing climate already affects the air our kids breathe."
The president also took a shot at climate change-denying members of Congress like Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, knocking Republicans for pointing out that "this winter was cold in parts of our country."
Obama's choice of the Florida Everglades as the setting for the speech is significant for the ecologically delicate nature of the area, as well as the fact that parts of the state are already routinely dealing with the effects of sea level rise as a result of climate change. Miami is regularly subject to "sunny day flooding" when tidal waters back up through the city's drains.
The location is also politically charged, after it was recently revealed that Florida's Department of Environmental Protection has been banned from using the term "climate change." Though the governor's office denies the charge, DEP members have come forward publicly and the order has been such an open secret as to become a joke at a government hearing.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016, has questioned the role of humans in climate change and voted against an amendment holding Congress to the view that humans are causing climate change. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has acknowledged climate change as a "concern," although he has previously expressed skepticism about humans' role.
Despite the dire tone in Obama's weekly address marking the upcoming speech, Obama sounded some positive notes, including progress on shifting to clean energy and a new commitment from China to join the U.S. in reducing planet-warming emissions.
"Because the world’s two largest economies came together, there’s new hope that, with American leadership, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late."