Barack Obama: Renewable energies will drive the renewal of American pride

The Pentagon has declared our dependence on fossil fuels a security threat. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are travelling the country as part of Operation Free, campaigning to end our dependence on oil. Leaders in the business community are standing with leaders in the environmental community to protect the economy and the planet we leave for our children. The House of Representatives has already passed historic legislation.

So we are seeing a convergence. The naysayers, the folks who would pretend that this is not an issue – they are being marginalised. But it is important to understand that the closer we get, the harder the opposition will fight and the more we'll hear from those whose interest or ideology run counter to the much-needed action that we're engaged in. There are those who will suggest that moving toward clean energy will destroy our economy – when it's the system we currently have that endangers our prosperity and prevents us from creating millions of new jobs. There are going to be those making cynical claims that contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence when it comes to climate change, claims whose only purpose is to defeat or delay the change that we know is necessary.

So we're going to have to work on those folks. But there is also another myth that we have to dispel, and this one is far more dangerous because we're all somewhat complicit in it. It's far more dangerous than any attack made by those who wish to stand in the way of progress – and that's the idea that there is nothing or little that we can do. It's pessimism. It's the pessimistic notion that our politics are too broken and our people too unwilling to make hard choices for us to actually deal with this energy issue that we're facing.

Implicit in this argument is the sense that somehow we've lost something important – that fighting American spirit; that willingness to tackle hard challenges; that determination to see those challenges to the end; that we can solve problems; that we can act collectively; that somehow that is something of the past. I reject that argument. This is the nation that pushed westward and looked skyward. We have always sought out new frontiers. And this generation is no different.

Taken from the US President's speech to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last Friday