BERKELEY - Gov. Jerry Brown told college graduates in a commencement speech today that climate change is a greater threat to their future than any number of other problems, from the home mortgage crisis and student debt to growing inequality and war abroad.
"All these problems are serious and count as some kind of crisis," Brown said, before calling "even more threatening" the effect of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Democratic governor, who has made climate change a focus of his administration, warned of melting ice caps and rising sea levels.
"Of course the changes in our in our climate are not happening in political time," Brown said. "By Twitter standards, the pace is very slow but inexorable and, most troubling, soon to be irreversible."
Brown told the students, "That's the world you face. But you have the skills and the knowledge and the sense of the good. You can make change."
Brown, 75, graduated from Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in classics in 1961. His father, Pat Brown, was governor at the time.
"I don't recall what anyone said," Brown said. "But I did feel some unease as my father began his short talk. At that point in my life, my head was full of clean abstractions and political talk sounded a bit discordant, a little too obvious. And it was kind of embarrassing that my father was handing me my degree."
Brown said no one knew until he graduated that he was the governor's son.
"And, by the way," Brown said, "he wasn't that popular at that moment in time."
PHOTO CREDIT: A young boy smiles after Gov. Jerry Brown pauses while taking photographs to shake his hand in Berkeley on Monday, May 20, 2013. David Siders / Sacramento Bee