“And by the way I like coal.”
—Gov. Mitt Romney
“We have to look at the energy source of the future: wind and solar and biofuels.”
—President Barack Obama
Leading up to the first presidential debate which took place last night, global warming has largely been off the radar for the two candidates. At the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney made his little dig at the President:
“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” (I guess Romney believes helping the economy and helping the environment are mutually exclusive.)
President Obama followed up with a brief retort at the Democratic National Convention one week later:
“My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax.”
At least the President is still a believer, but that was all that’s been said on the matter up to this point. For such a huge topic affecting Americans as well as the whole world, it’s curious that this hasn’t been getting more attention. In fact, I would expect that both sides of this issue would want the discussion out in the open. Those like me who believe the science and the evidence want others to understand it better so that real change can be effected.
As a case in point, nine different environmental organizations submitted over 160,000 petitions to Jim Lehrer, last night’s debate moderator, begging for a question on cliamte change. Those who deny the science should also want their chance to be heard to see how the general public will perceive their perspective.
So did last night’s debate tackle the issue? Given that the theme of the evening was domestic policy, one would expect climate change and its impact on the US environment would have been an issue worth addressing.
Sadly, climate change received zero attention. Jim Lehrer had a number of topics he wanted to cover but never referred to what exactly those topics were. And given how poorly he moderated the debate, most of the scheduled topics never got covered. There were a few brief comments about energy, both fossil fuels and green energy. (I referred to some of the energy quotes at the beginning of this post.) But the debate was much more about economy than climate change.
There are two more presidential debates, and one vice presidential debate. We can only hope that the topic of climate change will get some attention among these upcoming dialogues. The next presidential debate is a town hall format, so unless someone in the audience gets the opportunity to ask a question on the topic, our last hope is for the third and final debate where foreign policy is the theme.
Important issues need to be addressed. If all the candidates care about is the economy of today, there won’t be a planet of tomorrow. In that case, economy won’t matter.