Barack Obama put climate change and energy security squarely at the forefront of his agenda yesterday in his first statement to the nation as president of the United States.
"Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet," America's 44th president said to a crowd of more than 1 million people.
The line wasn't one of his biggest applause-getters among the crowd of flag-wavers shouting "Obama! Obama!" Nor was his pledge that the United States will "roll back the specter of a warming planet."
But for some inauguration attendees who braved the 27-degree temperatures to witness Obama taking the oath of office, it was one of the highlights of his address.
"I felt like he would talk about global warming, and I'm really glad he did," said Michelle Boyd, 24, who drove to Washington, D.C., with friends from upstate New York for the event.
Some in crowd put economy and sense of history first
"What we're doing to our planet has gone ignored for so long, and now we're finally going to do something about it," said another woman in the group, who wore a t-shirt proclaiming, "There is no Planet B," over several long-sleeved and thermal shirts.
Yet with most of the nation fixated on the drama of seeing the swearing in of the first African-American man to be elected President of the United States, most of the focus from those in the crowd fell alternately on the economy, the war in Iraq and speculation about First Lady Michelle Obama's outfit.
"Oh my God, how much did you love her gloves?" squealed one girl to another on D.C.'s Metro subway system. "I can't wait to see what she wears to the inaugural ball."
Asked her thoughts on Obama's climate change and energy comments, the woman -- who declined to give her name -- said they didn't make a strong impression.
Niolette Murray, 32, from Baltimore, said she was happy to hear Obama speak about climate change, but said he needs to focus first on the economy. Overall, she said, she was thrilled simply to witness what she called "the most historic moment [of] my lifetime."
"I cried watching him take the oath," Murray said. "To be able to tell my kids someday that I watched the first African-American man become president, that's something else. I can't even describe what that is."
'All this we will do'
Obama has called for spending $150 billion over 10 years to create 5 million "green jobs," and for a major overhaul of America's energy policy.
"The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. ... We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories," he said. "All this we can do. All this we will do."