Monday, October 22, 2012

#ClimateSilence? Blame the candidates...and the Media

Tonight was the fourth debate of the Presidential campaign - three between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and one between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. That is about six hours of direct interaction, with the chance to discuss the most significant issues facing America's - and the world's - future. Certainly, issues related to war, peace, the economy, and health care deserve attention, and they received it. But how many questions were devoted to climate change, specifics about dealing with the threats of carbon accumulation in the atmosphere, or the national security implications of a changing climate?
Zero. Zilch. Nada.

If you think that maybe climate change isn't a significant-enough issue to warrant discussion in 2012 - in a year when extreme weather events have finally made the connection between global warming and Americans' lives and the loss of arctic sea ice has happened decades faster than models predicted - consider that climate change was discussed in the debates in 2008. And 2004. And 2000. In fact, the last time that climate change was NOT discussed in the Presidential or Vice-Presidential debates was...



Who to blame? Well, to start with, there are both candidates. Both Obama and Romney seem to think that every question about energy is a chance to wax eloquent about their devotion to fracking and the oxymoronic "Clean Coal." The second Presidential Debate had an extensive exchange about energy exploration, but except for some platitudes from Obama about alternative energy and fuel efficiency, he was proudest of how much more production he's overseen. Romney was no better, seemingly trying to out-Cheney Dick Cheney.
Bob Schieffer
But the media - I'm talkin' to you Jim Lehrer, Martha Raddatz, Candy Crowley, and Bob Schieffer - is just as much to blame. C'mon! As ClimateProgress' Stephen Lacey points out:
Indeed, almost every major international issue — energy access, international trade, food prices, technology sharing, military operations — have a deeply embedded climate component.
But not a single mention. What would the candidates do? I really have no idea. Obama has been no wild-eyed climate-radical during his four years. I'd like to hear some specifics about what he'd do. I suspect that Romney would do less are we to know?

That is the moderators' job - to ferret that out. But not this year. I think that future generations will look back on this as incomprehensible.

Well, there's always this hope:

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