Global warming not a hot topic at debates


Maybe you can blame it on the moderators, but for the first time since 1988 neither of the presidential candidates said a word about global warming and neither did their vice-presidential counterparts during the debates.

Even Sarah Palin acknowledged global warming in her 2008 debate with VP Joe Biden.

In his debate with Obama in 2008, Sen. McCain said, “We may hand our children and grandchildren a damaged planet.”

Obama said in that same debate that, “This is one of the biggest challenges of our times and it is absolutely critical that we understand that this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity.”

Obama said in 2008 that the problem won’t be solved if there continues to be a reliance on fossil fuels.

Well, a lot of chatter from Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney, is about coal, natural gas and oil.

Shockingly, MTV is the network that put Obama on the spot with global warming, as you will see in the video above. Is global warming just an issue that headbangers, pop star fans and Justin Beiber fanatics care about? If Pres. Obama is surprised the topic didn’t come up, then why didn’t he raise it during the first debate? Or the second? Or the third?

Both Romney and Obama believe in climate change — that we know. Yet, neither candidate has released a regulatory plan that would deal with global warming.

Investigative Post asked two local environmentalists what they thought about the lack of attention to global warming and the environment as a whole, and here are their responses in full:

Jill Spisiak Jedlicka, executive director of  Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper:

It was disappointing, but not surprising, that the only mention of our nations’ national resources was in the context of the extraction of fossil fuels. For Riverkeeper, environmental and water quality issues are extremely relevant to the state of our region and nation’s “blue economy”, and we firmly believe that the health of our water reflects the health and well-being of our community.

Our local and national water resources support recreation, eco-tourism, manufacturing, waste processing, power generation, trans-shipment and drinking water — all critical components to a strong economy. Understanding that there are many serious issues facing our country during this election, the candidates talking points and positions on the protection and restoration of our natural resources should not end up on the cutting room floor.

Riverkeeper is a non-partisan, not for profit organization that does not endorse or make preferences on political candidates. We have successfully worked with elected officials from both parties, and believe that environmental and water issues should always be bi-partisan. Under President Bush, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration was formed, and under President Obama, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was passed and funded.

The GLRI has brought tens of millions of dollars of investment into WNY for waterfront restoration, toxic clean-up and green jobs. However, the GLRI has been identified as “discretionary spending”, and is at great risk of not being funded in the future, which would negatively impact the forward progress on WNY waterfront revitalization.

In addition, over the last year we have seen numerous Congressional attacks on the defining legislation that protects our water resources — the Clean Water Act. Riverkeeper will continue to work at all levels for the protection of the Clean Water Act, regardless of the outcome of this year’s election.

Jay Burney, Learning Sustainability Campaign and founder of GreenWatch:

My perspective from the Learning Sustainability Campaign is that not discussing this fundamental issue reflects national political agendas that represent almost exclusive (and myopic) economic agendas to the exclusion of environment. Of course our economy is in turmoil and the nuanced complexities of climate change probably do not translate well to the kind of discussions and presentations presented by the debate formats, or to the kinds of sound bites that represent candidates posturing on any issue.

Climate change remains controversial due in part to political agendas that by necessity have to reflect the lowest common denominator because Americans do not have the broad capacity to think and act critically. Instead we react to marketing agendas that reflect among other things, a consumer society.

It is easier to bloviate by pushing a “drill baby drill” message than it is to discuss the nuanced complexities of science, and the real economic, social, and environmental costs of and oil and gas, and an environmentally exploitive based economy.

We are still a nation that does not understand our relationships to and between such living systems as forests, oceans, and the atmosphere and the political imposition of commonly accepted development strategies.

Both candidates are forced by political money that does not challenge the status quo regards economic development. Short term profit is the driver. This includes a media bias that is better served (economically) by marketing a simply described and divisive election of characterized as controversial and full of theatrical and entertainment based messaging.

There is no media room for the presentation of objective information that would allow critical, deliberative and thoughtful thinking. The real interests of the public would be served with a wider ranging debate that should be ongoing and amongst many candidates. Climate change should be a fundamental topic. Instead we have two candidates that both have similar but slightly nuanced energy messages, and virtually nothing focusing on environment or climate change other than a rejection of the consideration.

The discussion seems to focus exclusively on “energy independence” contexts that are characterized not by conservation, or investment in modern distribution infrastructure, or renewable energy technologies and strategies, but by vested interests that want more access to public lands at a cost to the public that pretty much remains hidden. Profit remains the bottom line, not the environment. Not to mention a major investment in jingoism. Profit is basically the driving force behind human caused climate change and how on earth does a Presidential Candidate in this election address that?

The most pressing issue- global engagement, public investment in science, including a better understanding of the effects of biodiversity and its decline on climate contexts, and investment renewable energy strategies that make sense. Public investment! Not private investment which is biased by the unlevel playing field of the hidden hands promoting and oil and gas economy.