Obama Dicusses Conservation in Religious Terms: Angels, Heavens, Souls, Sacred Space

Susan Jones | September 1, 2016 | 8:52am EDT
Font Size
This April 12, 2012 file photo shows the clarity of Lake Tahoe, Nev. President Barack Obama announced new conservation efforts at the 20th annual environmental summit at Lake Tahoe on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner, File)

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Ted Cruz is among those who have described climate change as a religion, not a science. And on Wednesday in Nevada, President Obama used religious terms in a speech linking conservation with climate change.

The president also said "the most important changes" are the ones made by humans. "We've got power. Diminishing carbon pollution proves we can do something about it."

Obama told an appreciative audience it was "special" to stand on the shores of Lake Tahoe, a place he'd never visited before:

"It's been written that the air here is so fine, it must be the same air that the angels breathe. So it's no wonder that for thousands of years, this place has been a spiritual one. For the Washoe people (Native Americans), it is the center of their world.

"And just as this space is sacred to Native Americans, it should be sacred to all Americans. And that's why we're here, to protect this special pristine place, to keep these waters crystal clear, to keep the air as pure as the heavens, to keep alive Tahoe's spirit and to keep faith with this truth, that the challenges of conservation and combating climate change are connected. They're linked."

Obama said the nation must embrace conservation becaue "healthy and diverse lands and waters help us build resilience to climate change."

"We do it (embrace conservation) because places like this nurture and restore the soul, and we want to make sure that's there for our kids too."

Quoting a Washoe tribal leader, Obama said the health of the land and the health of the people are tied together. Then the president listed all the ways he's been  working on climate change -- renewable energy, clean power, fuel economy. He also announced new conservation efforts for Lake Tahoe and other western lands and waters.

At the end of his speech, Obama returned to the tribal elder:

"Just go back to that quote by the Washoe elder -- 'What happens to the land also happens to the people.' I've made it my priority in my presidency to protect the natural resource we inherited because we shouldn't be the last to enjoy them. Just as the health of the land and the people are tied together, just as climate and conservation are tied together, we share a sacred connection with those who are going to follow us.

"I think about my two daughters...the future generations who deserve clear water and clean air that will sustain their bodies and sustain their souls -- jewels like Lake Tahoe. And it's not going to happen without hard work. It sure is not going to happen if we pretend a snowball in winter means nothing's wrong. It's not going to happen if we boast about how we're going to scrap international treaties.

"We're -- have elected officials who are alone in the world in denying climate change or put our energy and environmental policies in the hands of the big polluters. (He was talking about Donald Trump.) "It's not going to happen if we just pay lip service to conservation but then refuse to do what's needed.

"When scientists first told us that our planet was changing because of human activity, it was received as a bombshell, but in a way we shouldn't have been surprised.

"The most important changes are always the changes made by us. And the fact that we've been able to grow our clean energy economy proves that we have agency, we've got power. Diminishing carbon pollution proves we can do something about it. Our healing of Lake Tahoe proves it's within our power to pass on the incredible bounty of this country to a next generation."

mrc merch