White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett was heckled during a speech on Friday by an activist demanding that President Barack Obama do more to address climate change.
Jarrett was about two-thirds of the way into her speech at RootsCamp, a conference for grassroots organizers being held in Washington, D.C., when Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts and former editor of ThinkProgress Green, stood up and interrupted her.
According to HuffPost's Amanda Terkel, who was in the audience, members of the crowd began clapping in what was perceived as an attempt to drown Johnson out. Other attendees reported that members of the crowd booed, and that Secret Service agents moved toward the center of the ballroom. Jarrett apparently waved them off and spoke briefly with Johnson following her speech.
"I stood up and asked Valerie Jarrett to have the president speak about the reality of climate change," Johnson told Terkel after the incident. "This nation is facing a fundamental threat to its existence, and the people of New York and people all across America are already suffering the effects, the consequences of carbon pollution, and the president has been silent on that threat and is promoting an agenda of increased dependence on fossil fuels. Even with the aftermath of Sandy, the president has still been silent on the reality of this threat, and that silence needs to end."
Johnson said that Jarrett told him the White House would be willing to speak more with him about climate change, for which he said he was "grateful."
Scientists suggest that Hurricane Sandy was just a hint of things to come as the climate continues to change.
Following Sandy, Forecast the Facts created a list of politicians and celebrities who had spoken out on climate change in the storm's aftermath, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) who declared, "I think part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality, it is a reality that we are vulnerable."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Obama after the storm, stating, "Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week's devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."
In his first press conference after winning reelection, Obama stated, "I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions." But while he stated that "I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it," he suggested that action was likely a long way off.
Amanda Terkel contributed reporting.