James Hansen Speaks About Climate Change

James Hansen spoke at the White House on January 15–Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. His remarks are powerful. Each individual has the ability to raise his or her voice to call for political action. And only when we do so will political action happen. This is a grassroots movement, bottom-up. People have to believe in their power and their voice.

Remarks at the White House

James Hansen

15 January 2013

Let us return for a moment to election night 2008. As I sat in our farm house in Pennsylvania, watching Barack Obama’s victory speech, I turned my head aside so my wife would not see the tears in my eyes. I suspect that millions cried. It was a great day for America.

We had great hopes for our new President. It is appropriate, it is right, in a period honoring Martin Luther King, to recall the hopes and dreams of that evening, and the hopes and dreams that we…will… never – give up.

We have a dream – that our President will understand the intergenerational injustice of human-made climate change – that he will recognize our duty to be caretakers of creation, of the land, of the life on our planet – and that he will give these matters the priority that our young people deserve.

We have a dream – that our President will understand the commonality of solutions for energy security, national security and climate stability – and that he will exercise hands-on leadership, taking the matter to the public, avoiding backroom crippling deals with special interests.

We have a dream – that the President will stand as firm as Abraham Lincoln when he faced the great moral issue of slavery – and, like Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill, he will speak with the public, enlisting their support and reassuring them.

It is not easy to find an Abraham Lincoln or a Winston Churchill. But we are here today looking to find that in you, Mr. President. And until you summon it within yourself, let me assure you that we will return, and our numbers will grow.

Mr. President, we will be here until the promise of a safe world for our children and grandchildren, and your children and grand children – is not a dream. We will be here until we are assured that the history books will rightfully record – that you were the person we were looking for – the person who turned these dreams…into reality.

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