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Watch Obama Address Climate Change and Mock Deniers in University of California Irvine Commencement Speech

Climate

President Barack Obama's commencement address for the University of California, Irvine Saturday included a little of everything regarding climate change. He announced a $1 billion competitive rebuilding fund for communities hit by extreme weather, while challenging graduates to do their part in addressing what could be the largest issue of their lives.

The president also added in some sarcasm—lots and lots of sarcasm. For one, he compared climate deniers to people who told President John F. Kennedy that moon exploration was a waste of time. Today's crop of climate deniers are akin to people who would have told Kennedy in the ‘60s that the "moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese,” Obama said.

Obama begins speaking about climate change after the 7-minute mark of his 30-minute speech, uploaded in its entirety by The UpTake.

“The question is not whether we need to act,” the president told the crowd of 8,000 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. “The overwhelming judgement of science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, has put the that to rest. The question is whether we have the will to act before it's too late.”

Obama also cleared up the confusion for those who wonder why some politicians hide behind the claim that they are not scientists.

"There are some who duck the question by saying, ‘Hey, I'm not a scientist,'" Obama said. "Let me translate that for you: What that means is, ‘I accept that manmade climate change is real, but if I admit it, I'll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate change is a liberal plot."

He can identify with them on not being a scientist, but Obama, instead, trusts the work of scientists, 97 percent of whom agree that climate change is real.

“I’m not a scientist either, but we’ve got some good ones at NASA," Obama said. "I do know the overwhelming majority of scientists who work on climate change, including some who once disputed the data, have put the debate to rest.”

 

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.