COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Gov. Martin O'Malley urged graduating students from the state's flagship university Thursday to work against climate change, which he called "the transformation that transforms everything."
O'Malley, a term-limited Democrat who is considering a run for the White House in 2016, said climate change is transforming education, language, mobility, farming, forestry, buildings, energy and cities. He said the problem requires "a transformation of our imagination."
"We are adept, aren't we, at imagining the end of the world, but not yet so good at imagining a new beginning," O'Malley told thousands of graduates at the University of Maryland, College Park.
O'Malley's speech came about a week after he vetoed legislation that would have put a 13-month moratorium on building wind turbines within 56 miles of the U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The measure would have delayed and possibly scuttled a wind farm development on the Eastern Shore in order to study how tall turbines would affect radar at the base. O'Malley noted the threat of climate change in a letter outlining his reasons for the unusual veto of legislation passed with strong support by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
Environmental initiatives like working to develop offshore wind, improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and reducing greenhouse gas emissions have been top O'Malley priorities of his administration.
O'Malley told the graduates that those who deny climate change need to be educated.
"To those who say climate change is not caused by human activity or that addressing it will harm the economy, let's encourage them to go to college, too, and to study physics and to study economics, but for the rest of us, let's get to work."
The governor said the technology already exists to address the problems.
"It's only the will that is lacking," O'Malley said. "We cannot become more prosperous without the living systems upon which our prosperity depends."
O'Malley said many can contribute to working against climate change.
"No matter what degree you have earned, whether you are an economist, nurse, engineer, architect or teacher, we all share a single urgent calling - to preserve, create and advance the conditions that are conducive to life," O'Malley said.
O'Malley was acknowledged by students and university officials for a tuition freeze he kept in place for his first four years in office and for working to keep increases low after that.