Former President Barack Obama said while debating climate change policy solutions is good for democracy, questioning the underlying science is bad for society.
Obama made the remarks in an off-the-record speech he delivered at the Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT) on Friday. Hundreds of people kept the speech secret and agreed to not publicize it in exchange for attendance.
“You and I can have an argument about climate change in which you conclude, ‘we’re not going to stop the Chinese and the Indians from burning a bunch of coal, it’s gone on for a pretty long time; we’re just going to have to adapt, and maybe we’ll invent some new energy source in the nick of time, and that’s why I’m opposed to the Paris Accords,'” Obama said, according to an audio recording Reason obtained.
“I’ll come back and say, ‘well no, it just turns out if we just invest in some smart technology and we create a smart regulatory framework that incentivizes investment in clean energy, we can actually solve this problem now, and if we don’t, it’s going to be catastrophic,'” Obama elaborated.
Obama said disagreements over policy were part of democracy, but he told the MIT audience, “I can’t have that same debate with somebody who just holds up a snowball in the middle of the Senate chamber in winter and says, ‘look there’s no climate change because it’s snowing!'”
“Which happened by the way. I didn’t just make that up,” Obama added, referring to when Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe held up a snowball on the Senate floor after a winter storm hit Washington, D.C.
Inhofe threw a snowball in early 2015 on the Senate floor to show how cold it was outside, despite the previous year being declared the warmest on record. Inhofe is a skeptic of catastrophic man-made global warming.
“So, if we don’t have a common baseline, our democracy over time gets strained. That’s what’s happening,” Obama told the MIT audience.
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