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Obama pushes global warming agenda in commencement speech

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June 14, 2014: President Obama talks to the graduating class of the University of California, Irvine, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. (AP)

President Obama forged ahead Saturday with his second-term agenda, asking college graduates to join his fight to curb global warming and to welcome young illegal immigrants into the county, in a commencement speech at the University of California, Irvine.

“One of the most significant long-term challenges that our country and our planet face (is) the growing threat of a rapidly-changing climate,” the president said at the school in Anaheim. “The overwhelming judgment of science, accumulated and measured and reviewed over decades, has put that to rest. The question (now) is whether we have the will to act before it’s too late.”

Obama told those in attendance that they must respond now to protect children and future generations -- a theme he has repeated after announcing in recent weeks new rules for reducing carbon emission for plants that burn fossil fuel.

“We also have to realize, as hundreds of scientists declared last month, that climate change is no longer a distant threat but ‘has moved firmly into the present,’” said Obama in the ongoing effort by him and his supporters to win the debate on global warming and its possible causes. “The overwhelming majority of scientists who work on climate change, including some who once disputed the data, have put the debate to rest.”

With less than three years remaining in his second term, Obama also touted that fewer Americans are at war, more are insured as a result of his signature health-care law and that during roughly the past four years the number of states in which residents are “free to marry who you love” has more than doubled.

However, some Americans are critical of the president for not trying during his presidency to legalize same-sex marriage. And more recently, they are increasingly concerned about the risk of war as a result of U.S. foreign policy.

The uprising in Iraq of an Al Qaeda-inspired group threatening the stability in Baghdad has resulted in criticism about the U.S. government failing to stabilize the country after at least 4,400 U.S. service members were killed in toppling the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

And some Americans think that the U.S. getting back Taliban-captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees puts at risk the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Obama also asked for help in efforts to reverse income inequality, protect voting rights, stem gun violence in schools and in “welcoming the immigrants and young dreamers who keep this country vibrant.”