Obama, who has repeatedly appealed to the American people to put down their guns and "protect the future of our children" in the days following the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, evoked that theme once again this time, in relation to global warming.
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. [Applause.] Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms," the President stated.
He warned, "The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult," adding, "But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries; we must claim its promise. Thats how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our croplands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. Thats what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."
In his second inaugural address, the President also urged Americans to ease up on immigration rules that send talented scientists and engineers back to their countries of origin after they are educated in the States. "Our journey is not complete," he said, "until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country."
As the President wrapped up his speech, shortly after noon on the East Coast, he still faced an afternoon and evening of traditional celebrations and official inaugural balls.
On the eve of the inauguration in Washington, DC, several major environmental groups among them, Greenpeace, the Solar Electric Power Association, the Solar Energy Industry Association, The Trust for Public Land, UN Foundation, The Vote Solar Initiative, and The Wilderness Society sponsored a Green Inaugural Ball at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. The theme of the black-tie event was "to bring together the broad environmental, conservation and cleantech community to celebrate the past four years and look forward to the future."