“What makes climate change difficult is that it is not an instantaneous catastrophic event,” he said. “It’s a slow-moving issue that, on a day-to-day basis, people don’t experience and don’t see.”
Climate change, Mr. Obama often says, is the greatest long-term threat facing the world, as well as a danger already manifesting itself as droughts, storms, heat waves and flooding. More than health care, more than righting a sinking economic ship, more than the historic first of an African-American president, he believes that his efforts to slow the warming of the planet will be the most consequential legacy of his presidency.....
Benjamin J. Rhodes, one of the president’s closest aides, recalled Mr. Obama talking about “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” Jared Diamond’s 2005 best seller, which explored the environmental changes that wiped out ancient societies like Easter Island and discussed how modern equivalents like climate change and overpopulation could yield the same destruction.
Shifting monsoon patterns in South Asia could affect a billion people who depend on low-lying agriculture, Mr. Obama said in his interview.
“If you have even a portion of those billion people displaced,” he said, “you now have the sorts of refugee crises and potential conflicts that we haven’t seen in our lifetimes.”