In Berlin, Obama Warns of Famine, Floods, Refugees, Vanishing Coastlines

Fred Lucas | June 19, 2013 | 11:03am EDT
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President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after the conclusion of his speech in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. (AP Photo)

( – President Barack Obama told a cheering crowd in Berlin Wednesday that nations must unite to fight the “grim” future of climate change, which will produce “severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees -- coastlines will vanish, oceans will rise.”

The theme of Obama speech was "peace with justice," and it included a call for fewer nuclear weapons.

“Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet,” Obama said. “In the United States, we have recently doubled our renewable resources, like wind and solar power. We are doubling fuel efficiency in our cars. Our dangerous carbon emissions have come down. We know we have to do more and we will do more.”

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“With a global middle class consuming more energy every day, this must now be an effort of all nations, not just some, for the grim alternative affects all nations,” Obama continued.

“More severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines will vanish, oceans will rise. This is the future we must reverse. It is the global threat of our time. For the sake of future generations, our generation must move forward on a global to confront a changing climate. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.”

Obama, speaking behind a wall of bulletproof glass, also urged further reductions in the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

“After a comprehensive review, I am ensured that we can ensure the security of America and our allies and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by as much as one-third,” Obama said.

Obama said the START Treaty with Russia has reduced nuclear arsenals to the lowest level since 1950s. But he said more needs to be done, and he announced that he would seek new treaties -- and hold a conference in the United States in 2016 on securing nuclear material globally.

Obama spoke at the Brandenburg Gate, where the wall that divided Germany once stood. He first spoke there five years ago as a presidential candidate. And his speech comes almost 50 years to the day after President John F. Kennedy repudiated communism in the same spot.

"Today's threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity, that struggle goes on," Obama told a much smaller crowd this time around. "And I come here to this city of hope because the test of our time demands the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half-century ago."

The Associated Press reported that an estimated 6,000 people turned out to hear Obama speak today, compared with the crowd of 200,000 that gathered in Berlin to hear him in 2008.

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