How Come Climate Change Did Not Make For Topic During Presidential Debates?


The international topic of climate change was never mentioned during the presidential debates–not once–and it truly should have been.  It is not as if the problem will go away, or can be forgotten.  The impact of climate change is felt around the globe, and has real consequences that need to be addressed.  Sadly, neither presidential candidate is highlighting the issue this year.  President Obama did not want to take on another cause that often generates conservative backlash, and the GOP would not want to promote anything good for the planet that cut into their always precious bottom line.

Short-sighted all the way around.

As my colleague Elizabeth Kolbert has put it, climate policy became the Great Unmentionable during the  2012 campaign. President Obama did speak about it briefly during his acceptance  speech at the Democratic Convention, but he has otherwise avoided it. Romney has  a coal-friendly energy policy, and, when he talks about it, he radiates  enthusiasm about burning fuels of all kinds; you half expect him to take out  matches and show the audience how to light a fire. Yet arriving at a consensus  is vital and urgent. The bargaining required to deal with the country’s debt  overhang will create an opportunity to link the tax-rate reforms that  Republicans seek to the climate policies that Democrats have advocated. The  campaign might have fleshed out the possibility of such a deal; it has not.

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