WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack
Obama lampooned congressional skepticism over climate change on
Wednesday, saying that lawmakers who balk at tackling air pollution are
either blind to science or cowed by extremists.
In a speech to the League of Conservation Voters, the president
enumerated the steps he has taken to slow pollution and rein in
emissions that scientists say have trapped heat in the earth's
One such measure, a sweeping plan to cut power plant pollution
unveiled earlier this month, stirred ire among Republicans and some
Democrats, particularly in parts of the country that produce coal.
The president mocked those who question the science behind climate
change or the urgency of addressing the problem, which has emerged
as a legacy issue for his presidency and a polarizing topic in
November congressional elections.
"In most communities and work places, et cetera, when you talk to
folks, they may not know how big a problem, they may not know
exactly how it works, they may doubt that we can do something about
it, but generally they donít just say, no, I donít believe anything
scientists say," he said, to laughter.
He likened evidence that human activity causes global warming to the
medical profession's confidence in the health risks of smoking.
"Iím not a doctor either, but if a bunch of doctors tell me that
tobacco can cause lung cancer, then Iíll say, OK," he said. "Right?
I mean, itís not that hard."
Some lawmakers may secretly believe that man-made climate change is
real but are afraid to admit so for fear of "being run out of town
by a bunch of fringe elements that thinks climate science is a
liberal plot", Obama said.
Republican and some Democratic lawmakers argue that the Obama
administration's tougher environmental regulations will hold back
economic growth and hurt employment.
The president has sought in announcements and public appearances
this week to draw attention to his efforts to slow climate change.
The White House said on Wednesday Obama's policies would eventually
cut almost 3 billion tons of carbon pollution between 2020 and 2025,
develop renewable energy to power almost 2 million homes, train more
than 50,000 solar industry workers and save people billions on their
(Reporting By Annika McGinnis and Mark Felsenthal; Writing by Mark
Felsenthal; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)