Our leaders appear mum on the issue, yet the majority of Americans now think climate change is worsening extreme weather events such as the record-breaking heat and hazardous storms this summer, according to a recent survey. Where has climate change been in this election? Will today’s debate between the vice presidential candidates actually address the environment, a topic not even mentioned in the presidential debates?
There is little hope for any truth on environmental issues from Rep. Paul Ryan. A favorite of the oil billionaire, anti-climate science Koch brothers, Ryan has a hard time believing in global climate change because it snowed in the winter of 2009…in Wisconsin.
He has also promoted the “clean coal” myth. Very likely he will follow Mitt Romney’s lead, and repeat various fossil-funded talking points, while ignoring the threat to the climate posed by business as usual.
Vice President Joe Biden however, might say something more substantive about climate change. Biden has been honest about coal in the past, saying that “clean coal” is not part of America’s energy future in 2008. However, he promoted the “clean coal” myth in the 2008 vice presidential debate vs. Sarah Palin.
Both former Governor Romney and President Obama set an extraordinarily low bar on environmental issues in the first presidential debate last week. The word “environment” was mentioned one time when Mitt Romney said “in this business environment.”
Instead of mentioning the extreme weather that has caused billions in damages in the last year, President Obama pushed fracking, an unproven technology with proven environmental and social cost (including to the climate), while candidate Mitt Romney parroted 4-decade old coal industry talking points, even saying “I like coal.”
Climate change, both very real and very serious, was not mentioned at all. “Clean Coal,”of which the Washington Post notes, “there is no such thing,” did get a mention.
All the while, the longest fire season in memory has bankrupted the firefighting budget in Colorado -host state to the first debate- while drought has mercilessly scorched various parts of the country, which will cause a serious rise in food prices.
Or perhaps Governor Romney and President Obama haven’t noticed the Arctic melting or as environmentalist Bill McKibben chided on Twitter “Oh, that.”
Should we expect any better from tonight’s vice presidential debates?
I sure hope so.
We can’t tackle the biggest problem of our time if our political leaders remain silent and offer no plans for a different future. Our elected officials have the power to make this happen if they want to. The just have to have the will to break free from the fossil fuel industry. If we can put a person on the moon then we can do this. The time is now to shift to clean energy like wind and solar. The technology exists.
This year’s election is an amazing opportunity to have a serious conversation about climate change once and for all.