If we do not act forcefully, we'll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe.
Though Obama made clear the perils of climate change, he was light on details about what the future of the U.S. response to global warming might look like. November's agreement between the U.S. and China to cut carbon emissions, however, is a positive, if optimistic, sign.
The president wasn't the only Obama to take aim at climate change during his speech. Michelle Obama, who noted the diplomatic role of pandas in March, sat next to Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a climate activist who studies the way rising sea levels change coastal communities.
Also on Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States, in its "State of the Animal Union," applauded the Obama administration's stance on wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty but noted room for improvement regarding the government's care of wild horses and wolves.