The Big Loser in the Presidential Debates – Climate Change

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 10:17
Posted in category Uncategorized

For the first time since 1988, there was not one single mention of climate change or global warming in the entire debate season. Not by Romney, not by Obama, not by the moderators or the town hall.

There were extensive discussions about the issues related to it: energy (conventional and alternative), international diplomacy, national security and government’s role in relation to the free market; but global warming just never came up.

This is somewhat surprising, given the undeniable string of dramatic weather events, the fact that the three hottest years on record happened in the last seven years and that taking a pro-climate stand appears to benefit candidates more than hurt them.

It is more surprising when you watch clips of candidates speaking about the issue of climate change in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. In fact, by 2008, both tickets spoke of the need for bold actions to limit heat-trapping carbon emissions.

As unfortunate as this is, there are many sides to this story. A climate-optimist would point out that while the issue has seemingly dropped from the national discussion, actual levels of carbon emissions in the United States are at the lowest levels since 1992. A climate-pessimist would point out that it is a global issues and, while the United States does take home a big piece of pie, global emissions are still on the rise.

This is a complex issue that will not be solved overnight, nor does a discussion about it change the reality on the ground. However, we must always remember that we are in a race against time and a stalemate on the issue is a victory for those who are invested in not taking action on climate change.

Do you think that climate change should have been part of the presidential debates? Let us know.

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Comly Wilson is the Managing Editor of the Kaplan Clean Tech Blog. He studied Energy and Environmental Policy at American University and currently lives in New York City.