Why aren’t the Presidential Debates discussing climate change?

As the 2012 U.S. Presidential campaign winds down we are in the middle of the debates. In the first of the debates, Romney is widely considered to have won over Obama, if only because Obama did not challenge Romney on the enormous number of lies he told. On NBC’s Meet the Press, on Sunday, Tom Brokaw noted that the debates, and the coverage of the whole campaign, is ignoring several pressing questions facing the country, including the threat of climate change.

The issues named by Brokaw include immigration reform, taking real action to stem climate change, and unfunded public pensions in states around the country. Each of these are serious issues, and there are no doubt a dozen or more other issues being ignored by the campaigns. It is unfortunately typical for politics, especially in the crazy season just before a major election, to ignore real issues and focus on unimportant minutiae.

In response to Brokaw’s statement, Miles Grant writing on the National Wildlife Fund blog went over some factoids showing how deeply Americans would support serious action on climate change, if only the politicians would act.

  • Two-thirds of Americans see solid evidence of climate change and global warming, up 10% in the last three years. The massive heat-wave this year no doubt contributed to this growing awareness.
  • Three-fourths of Americans (74%) support government action to regulate the release of greenhouse gases.
  • Two-thirds of “sportsmen” (a conservative leaning group) believe there is a moral responsibility to take action on climate change and global warming, to preserve this planet for our children.

In September, the NWF had organized a petition drive that gathered over 160,000 signatures calling on Jim Lehrer, the moderator of the first debate, to ask the candidates about their plans to combat climate change. As we all know, that debate ignored this question and instead among the lies Romney said, that went unchallenged by Obama, was a an attempt to Solyndraize Obama’s green economy strategy, including calling Tesla Motors a losing failure of a company when it is anything but a failure.

For Tuesday’s debate will feature questions submitted by the public. In the ‘Energy’ category the top questions are all related to climate change:

  • “What actions will you take to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?”
  • “Governor Romney, how can you justify removing subsidies for alternative energy sources and keeping them in place for the oil industry? Please keep in mind you said that the entire energy industry should compete on a ‘level playing field’.”
  • “Both of you are concerned about the long term FINANCIAL debt being handed to our children. But what about the long term ENVIRONMENTAL debt that is being handed to them? How do you propose to reduce it, SPECIFICALLY carbon dioxide?”
  • “The U.S. has 3,900% more sun than Germany, but Germany produces 6,000% more solar energy than the U.S.? What does the next President of the U.S. plan to do to close the gap in green productivity and green labour?”
  • “Gov. Romney, there is nearly absolute scientific consensus that combustion of fossil fuels is driving climate change, at great cost to our health and wellbeing. As prez., how would you overcome opposition in your own party to addressing this crisis?”
  • “There is no longer any serious doubt among scientists that climate change, caused by fossil fuel burning, is now an imminent danger to the health, wealth, and well-being of our nation. What actions will you take to tackle this vital issue?”
  • “Do you have a specific plan to deal with climate change? If so please explain what your plan is and how it will be implemented and paid for. If you don’t have a plan please explain why.”
  • “Young people in Florida, and across the country, are working to move beyond dirty energy like coal, fracking & nuclear — what will your administration do to move beyond fossil fuels and address our generation’s greatest challenge, the climate crisis?”
  • “Given the scientific support for the imminent dangers due to climate change, why do you espouse subsidies for the oil and gas industries, but would remove those for wind and solar?”
  • “Climate change is one of biggest problems facing the us, its also a huge financial opportunity. Germany is moving grid to renewable energy, China is spending billions on green technologies. What will you do about this opportunity to generate wealth?”

One hopes these questions will actually be asked.

Source: Tom Brokaw: Why Haven’t Presidential Debates Discussed Climate Change?

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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