“Climate change can’t be denied, edited out or omitted from the conversation,” Obama told the crowd. “Simply refusing to say the words ‘climate change’ doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t happening.”
Obama — speaking from a podium at the edge of the River of Grass — made it clear he thinks climate change should be a bipartisan issue, pointing out that Theodore Roosevelt, often dubbed the "Conservationist President," was a Republican, as were EPA-creator Richard Nixon and George H. Bush, who acknowledged in 1990 that human activity was contributing to global warming.
On a buggy, sticky afternoon in the Everglades, the marshy green landscape was a picture perfect backdrop for Obama’s conservationist message, as were the ominous rainclouds above as he mentioned the possible future for South Florida if lawmakers don’t act.
“No place else is going to have a bigger impact [from climate change] than here,” he said. Without action, “there may be no Everglades.”
A motorcade of close to 100 motorcycles and cars ushered Obama through Homestead and into the park around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. The streets were full of excited locals as the motorcade passed by the iconic “Robert is Here” fruit stand.
Robert himself was invited to attend the speech three hours later, amidst a crowd of environmentalists and local lawmakers. Also present were Bill Nye (the Science Guy), who received a huge applause from the crowd, as well as preeminent Everglades conservationists like Mary Barley, vice-chair of the Everglades Foundation, and influential environmental advocate Nathaniel Reed. No one from Gov. Scott’s office was in attendance.
Reed, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Interior under President Richard Nixon, said he’s seen a number of presidents speak at the Everglades. But President Obama’s speech, he said, was “the best speech on the topic I’ve ever heard.”