President Barack Obama told UC Irvine graduates Saturday "we need you" to work on global climate change issues, and that he plans to work on fighting those dangers after he leaves office.
Moments after the speech, the president was instructed by two students on the dias — erected on the outfield of Angels Stadium — on how to make the UCI anteater symbol with his hands, and how to properly pronounce its trademark "zot" cry. Obama had mispronounced it as "zoot" in his speech.
Hours earlier, he was greeted by cheering crowds lining his route on Pacific Coast Highway to an ocean-view fundraiser in Laguna Beach.
In Anaheim, the president noted that UC Irvine was a worldwide leader in recognizing and analyzing global climate warming."Since this is a very educated group, you already know the science.
"We know the trends, the 18 warmest yeas on record have all been since you were born," Obama told the grads. "The question is not whether we need to act, the question is whether we have the will to act."
The president noted that "a UCI student-faculty team won the Nobel Prize for discovering that CFCs were destroying the ozone level.
"It was a UCI climatologist who just showed that one of the world's largest ice sheets is in retreat," the president said.
Almost as an aside, Obama said he intends to work on climate change issues after he leaves office in 2-1/2 years.
"I ask your generation to help leave us that legacy," Obama said at the stadium.
Obama arrived by motorcade at the stadium on schedule. Outside was a handful of protesters calling for his impeachment, and another group protesting the lack of immigration reform measures.
The president was wearing a dark blue gown, with striped epaulets on his arms. On stage with him was University of California President Janet Napolitano, his former Secretary of Homeland Security.
Earlier in the day, Obama had flown from Palm Springs to Los Alamitos, helicoptered to Orange County, and rode in a motorcade to an ocean-view house in Laguna Beach. Crowds four-to-six people deep stood along Pacific Coast Highway to cheer him, according to a pool reporter in the motorcade
Traffic on Laguna Beach's only major north-south street was blocked for the presidential motorcade, and crowds were four-to-six people deep, according to a pool reporter.
The presidential 747 had touched down on schedule at 9 a.m. at Los Alamitos Army Airfield. On hand to greet him were Congressman Alan Lowenthal, D- Long Beach, Los Alamitos Mayor Gerri Graham-Mejia, and military officials.
According to the Democratic National Committee, Obama was to take part in a roundtable discussion in a Laguna Beach residence with about 25 supporters, who each donated up to $32,400 to a political fund.
At the commencement, about 7,000 students were to receive degrees over three days, according to the university. The unified event at Anaheim Stadium was to include all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools, with the individual colleges' ceremonies planned for Sunday and Monday.
— City News Service