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President Stresses Climate Change In His Address to U.S. Coast Guard Graduates

May 20, 2015

"I’m here today to say climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security."
President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama visited New London on Wednesday to give the keynote address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's 134th commencement. He told the new ensigns the Coast Guard is on the front line to help combat and adapt to climate change.

Obama pointed out that some politicians refuse to admit climate change is real. But he said it's one of the most severe threats we face, telling the graduates it increases the risk of instability and conflict around the world.

"No nation is immune," Obama said. "So I’m here today to say climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country and so we need to act and we need to act now."

Obama said climate change is leading to extreme storms, and it will mean more humanitarian missions so security forces including the Coast Guard will need to be ready. Obama also brought up how the Arctic has opened up, and what this means for the U.S., which has more than 1,000 miles of Arctic coastline in Alaska.

"The United States is an Arctic nation, and we have a great interest in making sure the region is peaceful, that its indigenous people and environment and protected," Obama said. "And that its resources are managed responsibly in partnership with other nations. And that means all of you will have to step up because few no the Arctic better than the U.S. Coast Guard."

U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates celebrate.
Credit Harriet Jones / WNPR

The president said the politics won't be easy, but the country needs to build more efficiently and invest in energy research and renewable technologies. He said the U.S. will continue to lead efforts to reduce total global emissions.

Below are some tweets from the event and nearby:

Heather Brandon and Charlie Smart contributed to this report.