Obama during State of the Union: "Climate change is a fact!"

The president tells Congress he's not willing to say to future generations he did nothing to stop disaster

By Elias Isquith

Published January 29, 2014 4:00AM (EST)

It wasn't so long ago that Democratic politicians hemmed and hawed over the issue of catastrophic climate change — whether it was real, whether it was due to human activity, whether anything about it could be done.

Well, if anyone doubted those days were over (on the Democratic side, at least) President Obama's latest State of the Union address should ensure they doubt no longer.

While celebrating his administration's record on alternative sources of energy and energy independence, as well as its efforts to reduce America's levels of carbon pollution, Obama made a forceful argument that his and Congress' work to thwart climate change was far from complete.

"[W]e have to act with more urgency," Obama said, "because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods."

"The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way," he continued, before laying down the gauntlet: "But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."

Obama's assertion was mostly well-received by Congress, although Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who hails from coal-rich West Virginia, and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is Michele Bachmann, reportedly decided to quietly express their disapproval of the president's remarks.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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Barack Obama Joe Manchin Michele Bachmann Sotu Sotu 2014 State Of The Union State Of The Union 2014