Obama to Kids: Carbon is Warming the Planet, Intensifying Hurricanes and Droughts. We Should Do Something About This.

Presidents say the darndest things to kids. Obama opened up on climate change in a recent interview with a child reporter from Scholastic News.

Compared to his recent reticence to talk about global warming and climate change at all, Obama is positively loquacious here.  Here’s the transcript:

… Another big challenge that your generation is going to face is the environmental challenge.  Although we’ve made big improvements over the last 20 or 30 years in making our air clean and our water clean, there are some big challenges around climate change.  The temperature of the planet is getting warmer because of the pollution that we’re sending up into the air, the carbon that we’re releasing.

That’s causing changing weather patterns.  In places like Florida  you may be more vulnerable to hurricanes, in other areas we’ve seen more drought.  It’s affecting people all around the world.

So we’ve got to get started trying to deal with this issue and we’ve got to make sure that your generation finds better ways to use energy more efficiently so we’re not sending out as much pollution into the air.  So that’s going to be something that we’re really going to have to focus on.

Ya think?

Compared to the devastating impacts our inaction will have on the health and well-being of kids today, this is mild stuff.  Of course, a video for kids is not the place to be drumming up support for climate action.  No, that is something he needs to do when he is talking to adults.

h/t The Hill

Related Post:

25 Responses to Obama to Kids: Carbon is Warming the Planet, Intensifying Hurricanes and Droughts. We Should Do Something About This.

  1. Raul M. says:

    If the military puts up contrails to increase the reflectivity of the sky,
    isn’t there a time frame when the reflective power of the action would be concentrated to an area to the east of the spreading contrail at the hours just before sunset? Shouldn’t the public have fair warning that the action would take place at such and such a time to prepare for no baseball or football and to wear sunglasses at day time?
    Thank-you for considering that there is a climatic effect and a more immediate effect.

  2. Arne Perschel says:

    Disgusting! With my 26 years, I feel more part of those kids’ generation than of Obama’s and I’m offended by his flat face can-kicking. He’s done zilch to spare my generation of things he damn well knows are on the way and he tells those poor kids they’re gonna have to solve it. What a coward!

  3. Interesting Times says:

    “Of course, a video for kids is not the place to be drumming up support for climate action. No, that is something he needs to do when he is talking to adults.”

    What can you do when the adults with all the power are too old to live to see the consequences of their actions?

  4. Peter Mizla says:

    I know how you feel. Rick Perry has the answers to all- or Michelle Backmann or ‘flip flop’ Romney……

    what a way for a nation to go over a cliff….

  5. Michael Tucker says:

    Mr President I have a follow-up question. With CO2 concentrations higher than in the past 2 million years and global temperatures rising faster than ever recorded in the geologic record do you really think energy efficiency will solve our problems and how many years do we have to wait before we begin?

  6. Sasparilla says:

    The hypocrisy of him saying these things with respect to all the choices he’s directly made that will make climate change much worse to deal with later on is too much to take. As Arne said, disgusting.

    Mr. President, you can “start to focus” on climate change, finally, by canceling the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline that’s on your desk right now and not making things any worse than you already have. The Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline, Arctic drilling and increased coal mining on federal lands you approved is bad enough.

  7. Erica says:

    And Obama’s State Dept. just gave a green light to the dirty tar sands Keystone XL pipeline. Hypocrisy.

  8. Joan Savage says:

    I’m liking it. Kids make interesting leaders.

    Student-access news can spark conversations between students and parents. The Obama interview is likely to reach thousands of households across a political and economic spectrum.
    When a child asks a parent, What are you doing about..?, good stuff happens.
    It’s a start.

  9. Lou Grinzo says:

    I can’t claim to be an expert in communicating with kids about climate change or similar issues. But I did do a series of presentations for a local middle school a few years ago on electricity generation, which naturally got us into CO2 emissions and the astounding mess we’ve created with them.

    Most of the kids’ responses were magnified by the climate part of my talk. The awake and interested ones got REALLY awake, and the indifferent ones got even more bored. My point is that I doubt such videos and presentations actually do that much. If a kid is of a mindset and in an environment that encourages thinking and talking about such topics, s/he is already on board. If the child is surrounded by adults and peers who couldn’t care less, then nothing you can say or show them in a few minutes to an hour will do much good.

    This is a generational problem, in more ways than one; we need to raise a generation of adults that includes a critical mass of individuals who care about this topic enough to instill that concern in their own kids. Yes, it’s a chicken and egg problem, and yes, we don’t have nearly enough time to follow that formula, and no, I have no idea how to break that logjam.

    Easily the most interesting moment in my presentations came when I apologized to the kids for the crappy situation my generation and those before it were handing them. The look on their faces was remarkable, once they realized I wasn’t kidding. Perhaps that’s a useful, easily replicated way to grab their attention and communicate the seriousness of their situation…

  10. Question says:

    Really? He’s done “zilch”. Nothing at all? Please check your facts, or at least read Climate Progress before commenting. You wold find:

    1) The Department of Energy is aggressively addressing clean energy R&D and implementation compared to previous administrations,

    2) The EPA is on the verge of regulating carbon emissions, and has produced strong incentives for utilities to retire their oldest and most carbon intensive plants by promoting stronger mercury etc. emissions rules,


    3) The stimulus bill, if considered as a clean energy bill is the largest ever.

  11. Question says:

    Energy efficiency is the single most effective way of reducing carbon footprints. Historically and economically it is cheaper and easier to reduce your carbon emissions by reducing your energy consumption than by any other means. Would you really prefer Obama to throw away the efficiency “wedge” of the CO2 solution?

    That said, of course we need aggressive development of renewables. Good thing the US PV market grew more than 100% last year and wind also increased dramatically.

  12. Peter Mizla says:


    C02 levels have not been this high……

    “The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland,” said the paper’s lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

  13. Question says:

    I don’t like the Keystone pipeline, I don’t like drilling in the artic, and I don’t like coal mining on federal lands…

    but let’s keep some perspective. The net effect of Obama has not been “making things worse”. He can do better (though with the yahoos in congress his options are limited) but the Obama administration has actually been pretty helpful on climate despite his lack of verbal leadership. See my comments above about the EPA, Department of Energy and stimulus bill. If Obama is re-elected I am fairly confident that by the end of his second term we will have a carbon tax (or equivalent), and significant investments in green technology. Compare that to what we will have if any of the Republicans are elected.

  14. Ed Griffith says:

    Obama has done nothing beyond token actions.

    “The Department of Energy is aggressively addressing clean energy R&D and implementation compared to previous administrations.”

    Next to nothing is not a real improvement over nothing.

    “The EPA is on the verge…”

    Yes, they are always on the verge of action. All changes will have to wait until his second term where we hope he will be better.


    “The stimulus bill, if considered as a clean energy bill is the largest ever.”

    Over 45% of the stimulus was republican tax cuts. It is true that a Georgia bus station got a solar light, but nothing changed significantly in subsidizing fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.

    See for further documentation.

  15. johnnyb says:

    What would you suggest that he tell the children instead?
    Your Mommy and Daddy have screwed up the planet, but it will be all better when you get big.
    Maybe tell them that there is no problem so just go to bed and don’t worry about it.
    Or the easy way to just say nothing and they will figure it out for themselves when they get older.

  16. Sasparilla says:

    Sorry Question, but I have to disagree – Obama has made choices that have made things much worse for the future of the country and the world on climate change, than when he came into office.

    Of all the things (and there are many others), approving the tar sands pipeline (Keystone 1) that provided the first very large ongoing and future market for the extreme CO2 rich Canadian tar oil was the biggest nightmare choice he made and did this 6 months into office as oil prices were collapsing and Dems had majorities in House and Senate. Prior to that the tar oil was limited in the amounts that could be exported easily (i.e. a cap was on that bottle) – this choice made tar sands oil big business oil and enabled the XL pipeline and the pipeline to the west coast of Canada now being planned for China.

    As Hansen himself has stated, if we burn the tar sands, runaway greenhouse effects are certain (estimates of 3 to less than 1 billion worldwide population in 90 years). Obama chose this for us, our kids and their kids, with a chief science adviser that clearly told him not too and why (Holdren) – it is unforgivable. His statements here in light of this and other choices he has made are the height of hypocrisy.

  17. Barry Saxifrage says:

    I disagree. Obama is guilty of greenwashing…aka doing just enough “good” to make people feel like progress is being made, when in fact it isn’t. How many years after the Supreme Court ruled the EPA could regulate CO2 will it take Obama to put teeth to it? Big new coal leases? Frack-o-rama with no limits? Tar sands mainlining?

    It is no different than an oil company sponsoring a beach clean up day. Obama has got folks like you saying “sure I hate all the fossil fuel enabling he is doing, but at some point he will do something meaningful to slow our climate pollution…so we need to ignore his multi-year too-little-too-late record.” When concerned people stop protesting in the face of a totally inadequate effort to save ourselves then we are truly in big trouble.

    Joe says Obama has terrible messaging. I say it depends on what Obama is really trying to do. Maybe the coal-funded democrat from Illinois just “doesn’t get it” as Hansen has said. As a greenwasher on climate action he has been fantastic.

  18. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama says one thing to powerless children, but in terms of concrete action, he gives the tar-sands pipeline the go-ahead. Mixed messages, but one is potent, the other, I believe, a meaningless and probably cynical gesture. Our Obama, Kevin Rudd, was a master of just such duplicity. He apologised to the indigenous for various atrocities visited upon them, but immediately and emphatically maintained his predecessor, Howard’s, policy of rejecting financial compensation. He signed Kyoto, then the Australian delegations to subsequent meetings on climate change were as resolutely obstructionist as had been the Howardites before them. The political pattern in the West these days is marked by extremes of false presentation and cynical dissembling, as the politicians realise that more and more people see the terminal predicament in which we are thrashing about, but, rather than lead the populace to salvation, they continue to serve their real masters, the money power, while fooling most of the people most of the time. But not for much longer, I would say.

  19. Raul M. says:

    .If the admin. is interested in how many teachers think what he said has an inportant impact of the younger generation and if enough admins. allow the message to proceed to the young people then the message is just different than You know,if the pipeline is built and there is not much demand for the gas then they would probably be realistic about that immediate effect. But lets be even more realistic.
    The congress and the admin. has just built a grand underground shelter to protect themselves, but there isn’t room for the average multimillionar, so they might want to build their own shelter for just in case reasons.

  20. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    A great advice to Kids by US President.

    What a great interview. The Kids are geniuses in posing the questions to the great President of USA. The way President answered the questions amazed me about his quick response on many vital issues. President’s advice to the kids on clean environment and wider use of Renewable Energy sources is indeed remarkable. I am one of the millions of admirers of you President Barack Obama. We, Renewable Energy and Environment enthusiasts admire the steps taken by you in promoting Clean Environment.

    Long live President Barack Obama.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP),India

  21. otter17 says:

    “So we’ve got to get started trying to deal with this issue and we’ve got to make sure that your generation finds better ways to use energy more efficiently so we’re not sending out as much pollution into the air. So that’s going to be something that we’re really going to have to focus on.”

    Ouch, that wording hurt my ears. Seriously, “… we’ve got to make sure that YOUR generation finds better ways”? If I may, Mr. President, phrase it in a better way?

    So we should be starting right now to deal with this issue so that your generation has efficient and renewable energy that sends out zero pollution into the air. That is something that we are focusing on. You kids can help too; by studying hard in school you can be prepared to continue the efforts we begin today.

  22. sault says:

    So, the largest single clean energy spending bill didn’t do anything? Tell that to the people who will be making batteries at the Johnson Controls plant in Michigan or the people assembling wind turbines on the great plains thet their jobs are NOTHING.

  23. Robert In New Orleans says:

    How do you tell children they are toast?

  24. Susan Anderson says:

    Too little too late, and muddle-headed optimism, but I’d agree that Perry et al. are much much worse.

    However, on point of fact, it’s Clinton and the State Department who gave the green light on Keystone XL and it’s not over yet.

  25. Susan Anderson says:

    I was interested to hear that Lindzen was furious when his youngster came home and asked about global warming, furious that the school system was indoctrinating people. I suppose he feels his smoking habit is also his private business.

    There’s not much we can do in a free society to unindoctrinate people who are focused on the entertainment circus and their immediate needs to the exclusion of necessity and reality, but we will keep on trying.