President Obama on Wednesday used his commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to lecture graduates on climate change, and said climate change has already contributed to several armed conflicts around the world that have led to involvement by the U.S. military.
"I understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world, yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram," Obama said in his speech.
"It's now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East," he added.
Obama spoke broadly to graduates for about 10 minutes, and drew applause at several points as he recounted some of the history of the Coast Guard and highlighted some of the graduates.
But he then spent more than 15 minutes, more than half his speech, reciting his views on climate change as graduates sat quietly and listened.
"As a nation, we face many challenges, including the grave threat of terrorism, and as Americans we will always do everything in our power to protect our country," he said. "But even as we meet threats like terrorism, we cannot and we must not ignore a peril that can affect generations."
"The science is indisputable. The fossil fuels we burn release carbon dioxide, which traps heat, and the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now higher than they have been in 800,000 years."