Obama Says Climate Change Is a 'Major' Problem, But ISIS 'Not an Existential Threat'

By Susan Jones | March 24, 2016 | 7:03 AM EDT
President Barack Obama answers questions during a joint news conference with Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

(CNSNews.com) - "Groups like ISIL can't destroy us, they can't defeat us," President Obama told reporters in Argentina on Wednesday. "They're not an existential threat to us," he said.

A few sentences later, he described climate change as a "major" problem.

On a day when morgues and hospitals in Brussels were still trying to identify the dead and the grievously injured, Americans among them, Obama described the terrorists as "vicious killers and murderers who have perverted one of the world's great religions, and their primary power, in addition to killing lives, is to strike fear in our societies, to disrupt our societies."

Obama said he will be "systematic and ruthless and focused" in going after the disrupters, but in the meantime, "It is very important for us to not respond with fear."

The president told people to remember that terrorists "do no have power over us" because they "offer nothing except death."

In the next sentence, he mentioned climate change:

"And so it's important for the U.S. president and the U.S. government to be able to work with people who are building and who are creating things and creating jobs and trying to solve major problems like climate change..."

At the same news conference, Obama thanked the Argentine president for supporting the Paris climate change agreement.

It is worth remembering that Obama himself attended the Paris climate talks, arriving thre two weeks after the November 2015 terror attacks in that city.

"We offer our condolences to the people of France for the barbaric attacks on this beautiful city," Obama said at the time. "And we salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on -- an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children...

"Nearly 200 nations have assembled here this week -- a declaration that for all the challenges we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other," Obama continued. He hailed the moment where "we finally determined we would save our planet," and he said the 200 nations "share a sense of urgency about this challenge."

In a major speech on climate change at Georgetown University in June 25, 2013, President Obama's passion for the issue was on full display, as he warned that "our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind."

He warned of rising sea levels, scorching heat waves, larger wildfires, wilted crops, shortages of drinking water.

"So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.

"As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing," the president said.

He announced a national climate action plan, and he promised to keep the United States "a global leader in the fight against climate change." He said he would work with people of either party "to combat this threat on behalf of our kids."

"Nobody has a monopoly on what is a very hard problem, but I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society. Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.  And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here," Obama said.

"And someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they'll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?  And I want to be able to say, yes, we did. Don’t you want that?" the president asked.

"What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands."