Speaking today at a townhall meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, President Barack Obama warned that if the world does not “stop the amount of carbon that we send up” there will be everything from rising oceans to more droughts and more floods and bigger hurricanes and typhoons.
Obama was speaking to a group of people associated with the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
“The science is very clear that because of the carbon emissions that we send in, mostly from the use of fossil fuels--oil, gas, coal--the temperatures worldwide, on average, are getting higher,” said Obama. “And that begins to change weather patterns. The oceans begin to get warmer. The ice in the Arctic begins to melt. And you get a feedback loop that as things get warmer that creates even more of a trend towards warming.
“And if we don't stop the amount of carbon that we send up, and we don't find new ways of creating energy, then you'll see the oceans rise, more extreme weather events, more drought, more flooding, bigger hurricanes, typhoons,” said Obama. “And it could have a devastating effect on countries all around the world. And probably the biggest effect will be on poorer countries who don't have as much infrastructure to protect themselves.”
Obama said it was a mistake for people to think they did not need to worry about climate change now.
“So this has to be one of our highest priorities, but it's a hard issue to deal with because it doesn't happen right away. It happens gradually,” he said. “And so people always think, well, that's something we don't have to worry about now. But if we don't get started now, it's going to be too late.”
Obama concluded that he hopes to get a global deal at the U.N. summit on climate change that will convene in Paris at the end of this month.
“In Paris, our hope is to get all the countries to agree that they will set targets for reducing carbon emissions,” he said. “It won't be the same for every country. More developed countries, they should do more. Less developed, they don't have to do as much because they haven't contributed so much to carbon pollution. But everybody has to do something.”