This month, the national major-party candidates gathered for four debates – three featuring President Obama and Mitt Romney, one featuring Vice President Biden and Paul Ryan – that spanned over six hours. Tally up the transcripts, and you’ll find that roughly 70,000 words were uttered by the candidates and the moderators.
But the words “climate change” and “global warming” were not among them. The painful irony is that as the climate crisis grows more serious, the issue is generating less discussion, not more – 2012 is the first campaign cycle since 1984 in which the issue wasn’t raised at all during the national debates.
CNN’s Candy Crowley conceded last week that she realized “you climate change people” hoped to hear at least one question on the crisis, but she decided against it.
The candidates, of course, have little control over the issues included in the debates, but I found it noteworthy that President Obama is mindful of environmentalists’ concerns, and has reminded them that he hasn’t forgotten about climate change, even if the issue is getting the short shrift:
An email sent to environmentalists Sunday evening, obtained by The Hill, tallies numerous instances of Obama talking about climate change on the stump.
The compilation notes 15 mentions of climate change spread across a dozen speeches and remarks since July 23. For instance, the memo quotes a blurb from Obama’s speech in Mount Vernon, Iowa, on Oct. 18, when the president attacked Mitt Romney’s call to end a major tax credit for wind power projects.
“My plan will keep these investments, and we’ll keep reducing the carbon pollution that’s also heating the planet, because climate change isn’t a hoax. The droughts we’ve seen, the floods, the wildfires – those aren’t a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future. And we can do something about it. That’s part of what’s at stake in this election,” Obama said.
The email was sent by Ken Berlin, who chairs the Energy & Environment Team for Obama.
Time’s Michael Grunwald added that “worth noting” that President Obama has “probably done more to prevent climate change than anyone else on the planet.”
Still, few issues are as important as this one, and it’s inexplicable that the crisis was left out of the debates entirely. The climate will keep changing whether we acknowledge the problem or not.