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The Sound Of Climate Silence: Romney And Obama Spar Over Who Wants To Drill For More Fossil Fuels During Debate

By Stephen Lacey  

"The Sound Of Climate Silence: Romney And Obama Spar Over Who Wants To Drill For More Fossil Fuels During Debate"

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“The door is closing. I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for climate safety]. The door will be closed forever.”

No, that was not President Barack Obama or his Republican Challenger Mitt Romney speaking in the presidential debate. It was Fatih Birol, the renowned chief economist of the International Energy Agency, speaking about the pressing need to transition away from fossil fuels.

You’d be hard pressed to hear either of the presidential candidates make a statement like that. Or any statement on climate at all.

Those concerned about climate change were sorely disappointed during Tuesday night’s town hall-style debate when both the candidates and the moderator — CNN’s Candy Crowley — failed to address the issue of climate change, even during a lengthy and heated exchange about energy issues.

“I had that question for all of you climate change people,” said Crowley in the post-debate coverage. “We just, you know, again, we knew that the economy was still the main thing so you knew you kind of wanted to go with the economy.”

Obama started off the debate with a strong nod to renewable energy, explaining that we need to invest in “solar and wind and biofuels, energy efficient cars.” But after a voter asked about gas prices, both Obama and Romney proceeded to battle over who could drill more fossil fuels. (At one point, the two men closed in on each other, pointed fingers, and raised their voices over how much oil production had increased).

Obama separated himself by focusing on the need to develop more renewables and lower consumption of petroleum through better efficiency measures. But when talking about why he believes those investments are important, he never mentioned the reasons that alternatives to fossil fuels are so important.

Perhaps Australian climate scientist Will Steffen can explain: “This is the critical decade. If we don’t get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines. We are on the cusp of some big changes. We can … cap temperature rise at two degrees, or cross the threshold beyond which the system shifts to a much hotter state.”

Below is the full discussion on energy issues. Can you find the mention of climate? (Don’t strain too hard. We’ve already ruined it for you — there are none).

QUESTION: Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it’s not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?

OBAMA: The most important thing we can do is to make sure we control our own energy. So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years.

Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment. But what I’ve also said is we can’t just produce traditional source of energy. We’ve also got to look to the future. That’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you’re going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That’s why we doubled clean – clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels.

And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years. Now, I want to build on that. And that means, yes, we still continue to open up new areas for drilling. We continue to make it a priority for us to go after natural gas. We’ve got potentially 600,000 jobs and 100 years worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas.

And we can do it in an environmentally sound way. But we’ve also got to continue to figure out how we have efficiency energy, because ultimately that’s how we’re going to reduce demand and that’s what’s going to keep gas prices lower.

Now, Governor Romney will say he’s got an all-of-the-above plan, but basically his plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies. So he’s got the oil and gas part, but he doesn’t have the clean energy part. And if we are only thinking about tomorrow or the next day and not thinking about 10 years from now, we’re not going to control our own economic future. Because China, Germany, they’re making these investments. And I’m not going to cede those jobs of the future to those countries. I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States.

That’s going to help Jeremy get a job. It’s also going to make sure that you’re not paying as much for gas.

CROWLEY: Governor, on the subject of gas prices?

ROMNEY: Well, let’s look at the president’s policies, all right, as opposed to the rhetoric, because we’ve had four years of policies being played out. And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent. Why? Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.

So where’d the increase come from? Well a lot of it came from the Bakken Range in North Dakota. What was his participation there? The administration brought a criminal action against the people drilling up there for oil, this massive new resource we have. And what was the cost? 20 or 25 birds were killed and brought out a migratory bird act to go after them on a criminal basis.

Look, I want to make sure we use our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix.

But what we don’t need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries. I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and said, “Please save my job.” The head of the EPA said, “You can’t build a coal plant. You’ll virtually – it’s virtually impossible given our regulations.” When the president ran for office, he said if you build a coal plant, you can go ahead, but you’ll go bankrupt. That’s not the right course for America.

Let’s take advantage of the energy resources we have, as well as the energy sources for the future. And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years, you’re going to see manufacturing jobs come back. Because our energy is low cost, that are already beginning to come back because of our abundant energy. I’ll get America and North America energy independent. I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses.

We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know.

This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, let me just see if I can move you to the gist of this question, which is, are we looking at the new normal? I can tell you that tomorrow morning, a lot of people in Hempstead will wake up and fill up and they will find that the price of gas is over $4 a gallon.

Is it within the purview of the government to bring those prices down, or are we looking at the new normal?

OBAMA: Candy, there’s no doubt that world demand’s gone up, but our production is going up, and we’re using oil more efficiently. And very little of what Governor Romney just said is true. We’ve opened up public lands. We’re actually drilling more on public lands than in the previous administration and my – the previous president was an oil man.

And natural gas isn’t just appearing magically. We’re encouraging it and working with the industry.

And when I hear Governor Romney say he’s a big coal guy, I mean, keep in mind, when – Governor, when you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said, “This plant kills,” and took great pride in shutting it down. And now suddenly you’re a big champion of coal.

So what I’ve tried to do is be consistent. With respect to something like coal, we made the largest investment in clean coal technology, to make sure that even as we’re producing more coal, we’re producing it cleaner and smarter. Same thing with oil, same thing with natural gas.

And the proof is our oil imports are down to the lowest levels in 20 years. Oil production is up, natural gas production is up, and, most importantly, we’re also starting to build cars that are more efficient.

And that’s creating jobs. That means those cars can be exported, ’cause that’s the demand around the world, and it also means that it’ll save money in your pocketbook.

OBAMA: That’s the strategy you need, an all-of-the-above strategy, and that’s what we’re going to do in the next four years.

ROMNEY: But that’s not what you’ve done in the last four years. That’s the problem. In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.

OBAMA: Not true, Governor Romney.

ROMNEY: So how much did you cut (inaudible)?

OBAMA: Not true.

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by, then?

OBAMA: Governor, we have actually produced more oil –

ROMNEY: No, no. How much did you cut licenses and permits on federal land and federal waters?

OBAMA: Governor Romney, here’s what we did. There were a whole bunch of oil companies.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMNEY: No, no, I had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: You want me to answer a question –

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I’m happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right. And it is –

OBAMA: Here’s what happened. You had a whole bunch of oil companies who had leases on public lands that they weren’t using. So what we said was you can’t just sit on this for 10, 20, 30 years, decide when you want to drill, when you want to produce, when it’s most profitable for you. These are public lands. So if you want to drill on public lands, you use it or you lose it.

ROMNEY: OK, (inaudible) –

OBAMA: And so what we did was take away those leases. And we are now reletting them so that we can actually make a profit.

ROMNEY: And production on private – on government land –

OBAMA: Production is up.

ROMNEY: – is down.

OBAMA: No, it isn’t.

ROMNEY: Production on government land of oil is down 14 percent.

OBAMA: Governor –

ROMNEY: And production on gas –

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: It’s just not true.

ROMNEY: It’s absolutely true. Look, there’s no question but the people recognize that we have not produced more (inaudible) on federal lands and in federal waters. And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.

I was just at a coal facility, where some 1,200 people lost their jobs. The right course for America is to have a true all-of-the-above policy. I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.

OBAMA: Well –

ROMNEY: And the answer is I don’t believe people think that’s the case –

OBAMA: – (inaudible).

ROMNEY: That wasn’t the question.

OBAMA: OK.

ROMNEY: That was a statement. I don’t think the American people believe that. I will fight for oil, coal and natural gas. And the proof, the proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about $1.86 a gallon. Now, it’s $4.00 a gallon. The price of electricity is up.

If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country, to get America energy secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it. Those things will get us the energy we need.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, could you address, because we did finally get to gas prices here, could you address what the governor said, which is if your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor – think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was $1.80, $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney’s now promoting.

So, it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess.

What I want to do is to create an economy that is strong, and at the same time produce energy. And with respect to this pipeline that Governor Romney keeps on talking about, we’ve – we’ve built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth once.

So, I’m all for pipelines. I’m all for oil production. What I’m not for is us ignoring the other half of the equation. So, for example, on wind energy, when Governor Romney says “these are imaginary jobs.” When you’ve got thousands of people right now in Iowa, right now in Colorado, who are working, creating wind power with good-paying manufacturing jobs, and the Republican senator in that – in Iowa is all for it, providing tax breaks (ph) to help this work and Governor Romney says I’m opposed. I’d get rid of it.

That’s not an energy strategy for the future. And we need to win that future. And I intend to win it as President of the United States.

And there you have it. The deafening sound of climate silence.

Even as more voters say they understand that humans are warming the planet — and will reward candidates who say they’d do something about the problem — the policy conversation about energy goes on without any acknowledgement.

‹ Someday A Climate Hawk Will Run For President, Energizing Democrats And Independents, But Not This Year

October 17 News: Climate Scientists Gain Access To World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer For Geosciences ›

33 Responses to The Sound Of Climate Silence: Romney And Obama Spar Over Who Wants To Drill For More Fossil Fuels During Debate

  1. For Romney, there is absolutely no upside to acknowledging the issue. Republicans, much more than Democrats, follow Democratic advisor George Lakoff‘s advice, captured in the title of his 2004 book Don’t Think of an Elephant: bringing up your opponent’s viewpoint only legitimizes it, so avoid the temptation, even if it’s to negate that viewpoint. Romney doesn’t want to legitimize climate change concerns. It compromises his pro-fossil fuel message.

    For Obama, the game is much more complicated, and the sad truth is that electoral politics, especially at this late stage, is a game. The object of that game is to persuade the undecideds to vote for you without losing other votes. That brings him to the same place on climate change as Romney: silence. If Obama brings it up, the Republicans can hammer him with jobs. They can say he puts an abstract , unprovable future concern ahead of an immediate reality. Romney has already mocked him on this issue.

    You and I may be outraged by that mockery, but the right-wing propaganda machine has manufactured enough uncertainty about the immediacy of the climate threat that undecideds would pause.

    Democrats, if he brings up climate change, will criticize him for his inability to calibrate his statements about it. Climate change is one among many diverse Democratic and progressive priorities. To bring up climate change without implicitly highlighting the obvious conflicts with the other objectives is impossible. One cannot be for cheap gasoline and consumer-driven economic growth while telling the truth about the climate threat.

    Democrats would accuse Obama of pretty much the same thing Republicans would accuse him of: putting an abstract concern ahead of an immediate reality, which would play right into the Republicans’ hand.

    Here’s an even deeper truth. I think we don’t want to hear the candidates talk about climate change, even those of us who say we do. I know it makes me nervous. If a presidential candidate were to acknowledge how dangerous it really is and to urge the necessary measures, I’d be very concerned about the reaction from the public. It could drive further polarization and make discussing it even more difficult. It’s a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t conundrum.

    Unless the public is ready to hear the message, agree there’s a problem, and make the required sacrifices, raising the climate change issue will just cause a lot of anxiety, especially among those who don’t want to accept the reality of the climate threat. That anxiety will drive the skeptics and deniers deeper into their delusion that Obama is some kind of front man for a left-wing, one-world government plot. And that will give them permission to become more radicalized in their opposition.

    • Mark E says:

      “Here’s an even deeper truth. I think we don’t want to hear the candidates talk about climate change, even those of us who say we do.”

      Speak for yourself, brother. Why is the following statement true? “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

      ANSWER: Being so afraid of the public’s *possible* reaction that we do not want our leaders tell the full global warming truth while we can still have an impact on events commits us to experiencing far worse things. Thus we are making a choice each and every day…. thus far it is has been the choice of A1Fi or worse on a Business-as-usual pathway. My folks both grew up in the Great Depression. I’ve heard their stories of nothingness, and I for one would give all I have to give, including my life and those of all I love, to hear our President deliver a post-Pearl Harbor-esque global warming speech before the US Congress. After all, many of us are going to lose all we have to lose, and our lives and those of all we love, on the path we’re on anyway. It might as well count for something.

      So don’t count me in that group that don’t wanna hear about it, even though we say we do, because that’s the one thing we truly need to fear. The only thing that lets evil flourish is when good people do nothing.

      I know it makes me nervous. If a presidential candidate were to acknowledge how dangerous it really is and to urge the necessary measures, I’d be very concerned about the reaction from the public.”

    • Mike Roddy says:

      Whoever is elected will come up with other excuses for inaction, including that the public is not “ready”. You also don’t give credence to the studies suggesting that the people want action on climate change, and that it would be a political winner. In fact, you are just repeating mainstream media opinions, which are themselves fed to them by the oil companies.

      You are suggesting that our leaders perpetuate cowardice and dishonesty, on the shaky evidence that people won’t react properly. That is a defeatist position, and will accelerate the danger.

  2. Dano says:

    We’re still not hoping for action at the federal level, are we? Why?

    Best,

    d

  3. Climate Hawk says:

    “We live in a very delusional nation these days.” James Howard Kunstler

    After tonight’s debate, who could doubt this?

  4. Look- many of us are working as hard and creatively as we are able to figure out how to provoke effective action in the climate arena. And I am guessing almost all of will continue to (I will). But, I am wondering if it is possible to ALSO begin to mourn the probability that we, as a species let alone as a nation, are not going to even begin to seriously address CC until much unavoidable suffering has been triggered. We are so busy and passionate doing our best and, for myself anyway, I need to start to mourn as well. It is heartbreaking- for ourselves, for the many other species that our at the mercy of our actions (and lack thereof) and for our stupendously beautiful biosphere. If I do not acknowledge this,I am not being honest with myself or with others.

      • David, I couldn’t agree more. I very much appreciate this website and the commenters who see what is going on. It makes me feel much less isolated. Those of us who understand the risks, who really understand what could happen, are not that many. There is almost no one in my life who will sit still for a discussion about what we need to do. It’s too upsetting for them. Family, friends, co-workers–almost no one.

  5. Ozonator says:

    AGW was not totally silent for the debate in the region. Maine was a correct AGW quake prediction. It was in the “Maine (5+)” region under 9/30 – 10/6/12), met the 4.5 minimum, and in the 3rd week of the concurrent 3-weeks model (GBRWE 9/30 – 10/6/12”s Extreme Planetary Warnings for Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Solar/Terrestrial Flares from Human Activities; Robert Rhodes, Supplemental; GBRWE 9/30 – 10/6/12, 9/29/12). Centered in Maine, “’Extremely rare’ 4.0-magnitude earthquake shakes New Hampshire, region”; By JIM HADDADIN; fosters.com, 10/16/12). After helping to export an AGW bomb to Maine/New Hampshire, “Quick Hits Page … October 16, 2012… RUSH: … You know how many electoral votes are in New Hampshire?  Four. … Axelrod and “Fluff” and the boys … Global Warming is Over“ (the old, ugly and evil Rush “looting” Limbaugh whistlesucker performing and perfuming the stink at rushlimbaugh.com).

    • Ozonator says:

      My apologies, it was still a significant AGW quake meeting the 3.5 minimum as the quake was downgraded to a 4.0.

  6. noss says:

    Climate have been always changing in the past, however the rate of change is scary and we are very close to the tipping point.GHG emissions have to be reduced, our planet is already suffering from changes in hydrological cycles and carbon cycles which are significant thermostats. We dont want to end up like Venus which lost all it water due to warming. Already humans are vulnerable to the CC, crops fail floods increase and the economy is impacted especial in developing countries. It only fair to think about the future and sustainability through conserving our planet.

    • It is very unfortunate that there are constantly debates about whether or not climate change is real. I have read a number of articles and comments about people who are arguing against climate change or argue that it is not as severe as scientists say. In this regard I can see why some are concerned about the public’s reaction to the president saying it is serious. However, while this debate continues, the earth continues to warm and fill with more pollution. It is sad that money rules everything these days and I wish they would stop talking about renewable energy sources and actually out some money into it. Put money into researching new resources. Another thing is the effect of climate change on the world. I live in South Africa and while these first world countries continue to argue over what’s right or wrong with climate change, we, and Africa in general, will take the punches without the soft cushioning of the rich countries who could have done more to help everyone. We shouldn’t wait for someone high up to finally say,’yes,this is now a problem’, but should start with our own lives. Make our own small effort to change our lives to reduce our carbon footprint and hopefully more will follow the direction of those who do. Doing a little is better than doing nothing, although i hope at some point everyone will start to work together to ensure a safer, more sustainable world.

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    This reminds me of the waning days of Jim Crow in the South, when candidates in the Senate tried to “outseg” each other during their campaigns. Some of them, like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, were later able to pivot and keep their seats. Truly progressive candidates never had a chance.

    Last night, we again saw two politicians rooted in the past, not even acknowledging that the world is changing. It was as if they were two dinosaurs fighting over the last scraps of food, as the sky was darkening above them from the asteroid.

    We have people with vision and intelligence in this country. Now all we need is to see that they run for office, and when they keep repeating “change”, they actually mean it.

  8. Jon says:

    Dr. James Hansen, climate scientist: “Most impressive is the work of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a relatively new, fastgrowing, nonpartisan, nonprofit group with 46 chapters across the United States and Canada. If you want to join the fight to save the planet, to save creation for your grandchildren, there is no more effective step you could take than becoming an active member of this group.”

    CCL is working hard for climate legislation. Join them!

    • noss says:

      How does one join CCL especial if they not from U.S and Canada?

      • jk says:

        Go to the Citizens Climate Lobby website: http://citizensclimatelobby.org
        Look at the “Take Action” tab.
        You can start a group.
        There is an introductory call on the first and third Wednesday of the month. (So there’s one today at 8 p.m. Eastern time.) If your location prevents you from calling, you can email ccl@citizensclimatelobby.org to express your interest and you can listen to a recording of the last call on the Web site. There are also monthly action sheets you can read and recordings of monthly conference calls you can listen to.

  9. TKPGH says:

    Sounds like Candy’s dancing around the issue. She’s smart enough to know that the economy is at the mercy of climate change and ocean acidification, but just couldn’t summon the courage to pull the trigger.
    The saddest thing for me is that after all the petitions and tweets and etc., we are still not making a dent. The Florida Sea Level Rise letter probably won’t get any traction, either.

  10. Jameson Quinn says:

    To be fair, the question itself was horrible. There were ways to answer it and bring in climate change, but it was a minefield, and I almost can’t blame Obama for going the direction he did in his response.

    We should be demanding more of our leaders, and demanding more of our media. But on that stage, like it or not, Obama is as much a candidate as a leader. And while there are contexts where climate change is a winning issue for a candidate today, “gas prices should go up” is not one of them.

  11. Joan Savage says:

    The debates perpetrate a misconception of domestic issues as separate from international issues.

    And at that, the questions that were chosen from attenders in Hempstead, LI didn’t ask the candidates about drought or flood relief.

    Meanwhile..

    “Wheat reserves in Australia, the second-largest exporter, fell 14 percent from a year earlier at the marketing season’s end on Sept. 30, the government said today. It expects production of the grain to drop to 22.5 million metric tons this year from the prior period’s record. Western Australia will remain dry in the next six days, increasing risks of winter-crop damage, Telvent DTN Inc. said yesterday.”

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-17/grains-advance-as-dry-australian-weather-adds-to-crop-concerns

  12. Dave says:

    I think the biggest problem that this debate exposed is that the American electorate no longer values truth and conviction. It’s now all about pandering to big business and the most recent public opinion poll in the battleground state of the day. There’s no incentive to actually stand up for what you believe, and no penalty for waffling.

    It’s clear that both of these candidates should, and do, know better. As Obama pointed out, Romney once stated that a shuttered coal plant killed people. Today, Romney is a champion of coal, fighting to mine & burn every last bit of the noxious fossilized plant matter. Obama promised four years to slow the rise of the oceans. Yet, his policies have done nothing to accomplish this in his first term.

  13. Jan says:

    To be fair O. did mention the “energy of the future”, which means renewable energy. He could go “all in” with that and claim later he was being true to his campaign position. Once, the political threats die down, that is.

    He missed some good opportunities. He didn’t mention Romney’s attack on the tax credits for wind and the loss of 37,000 jobs. Also, Obama could have debunked the myth the domestic production lowers gas prices. It never has.

    He trembles at the possibility of right wing wrath and forgets the enormous power of support that would come from the left. I suppose he thinks we are already in his corner. However, he may have miscalculated on the lack of enthusiasm of many of us.

  14. Leif says:

    Given that the whole denier-sphere is funded by the fundamental flaw of Western Capitalism that allows, nay, encourages the few to profit from the pollution and exploitation of the commons for personal gains, I would think that the most important metric to watch is when the ~77% currently in favor climate disruption mitigation is to become a majority action in a presumably democratic Nation.

    We all pay fees to dump garbage, waste water and more. Corpro/People, corporations are “people” now, dump tons for free and accumulate mega-bucks. Even get tax subsidies. The GOP don’t fund abortion. Fine. A precedent! Why must my tax dollars fund the ecocide of the PLANET via fossil subsidies?!!! We’re talking “MORALS” here. Try throwing 19 pounds of paper cups out the car window for each gallon of gas you burn. I bet you could be real creative about increasing your trash stream if it were paper cups. Even absorb a “slap on the wrist” fine once in awhile. Surely a good lawyer on retainer. Once established perhaps even a congressman or two.

    I pay $150/ton to dump my household garbage. $50/T to recycle yard waste. Waste water fees, of course. I even though I collect my rain water for the garden, I have a “storm water run off fee” of $5/m. (guide lines here?) Yet Corpro/people soil their pants at the thought of $25/ton for TOXINS! Good grief… They are making billions, I get ~$30/day to stay alive and must fund health insurance. Go Figure!

    Stop profits from the pollution of the commons.
    Go Green, Resistance is FATAL to Earth’s life support systems.

  15. Nan says:

    Chris Matthews spent time before the debate talking to students gathered outside the hall. He asked them what they would ask the candidates if they could. Sadly, not one of them said climate change. Why aren’t more college students engaged in this issue?

    I remain hopeful that during Obama’s next 4 years, he will attack the problem head-on.

  16. Chris Winter says:

    A Change in the Weather wrote: “For Obama, the game is much more complicated, and the sad truth is that electoral politics, especially at this late stage, is a game. The object of that game is to persuade the undecideds to vote for you without losing other votes. That brings him to the same place on climate change as Romney: silence. If Obama brings it up, the Republicans can hammer him with jobs. They can say he puts an abstract, unprovable future concern ahead of an immediate reality. Romney has already mocked him on this issue.”

    All that’s true. And the President can respond with the numbers of jobs that various clean energy projects have created here in this country — an impressive number.

    Also he could mention the layoffs by wind-energy companies due to uncertainty over the production tax credit — an uncertainty caused by Republican success in blocking its extention.

    “You and I may be outraged by that mockery, but the right-wing propaganda machine has manufactured enough uncertainty about the immediacy of the climate threat that undecideds would pause.

    Democrats, if he brings up climate change, will criticize him for his inability to calibrate his statements about it. Climate change is one among many diverse Democratic and progressive priorities. To bring up climate change without implicitly highlighting the obvious conflicts with the other objectives is impossible. One cannot be for cheap gasoline and consumer-driven economic growth while telling the truth about the climate threat.

    Democrats would accuse Obama of pretty much the same thing Republicans would accuse him of: putting an abstract concern ahead of an immediate reality, which would play right into the Republicans’ hand.”

    Some of them would do that. Others (Ed Markey and Henry Waxman among them) would point out that the initial effects of climate change are also an immediate reality; that fossil-fuel pollution is to a large extent a health issue all taxpayers pay for, and that Republicans want to keep it that way; and that the switch to renewable energy is blocked more by political obstruction than by technical shortcomings.

    In sum, climate change is a political liability for Democrats. But it’s not the millstone around their necks you make it out to be.

  17. Ken Barrows says:

    If Democrats held the White House and both houses of Congress, it would make no difference. Why do I say this? How about 2009-10? Fact is, too many Democrats want to sweep climate change under the rug, e.g. West Virginia.

    So sit back, relax, see who wins. Then adopt a more rural, self-sufficient lifestyle in either case. I have to say, though, that I’ll be here in Denver as long as my job lasts.

  18. They’re just posturing for the fossil fuel lobby whom they know will bury them with ads if they peeve them. Though it does represent a stunning lack of political courage to tackle the issue of climate change head on, what it also reveals is the vast power fossil fuel special interests wield in American politics. We have a responsibility to remove that power in every way we can. But you’re right to hold the candidates to account for not addressing an issue that is currently impacting us all and is set to get quite a bit worse rather soon.

  19. hillwalker says:

    hrmmm,

    ” “This is the critical decade. If we don’t get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines.”

    I think Will Steffen is incorrect, we crossed that line decades ago. With China and India coming on line like they are, we’re basically done.

    Collapse early
    avoid the rush.

  20. Phantom says:

    At this point it does not matter who gets elected into office and judging by the candidates’ avoidance of the climate change leaves a lot to be desired. One would swear that it was not an issue to be talked about .Talking about climate change without highlighting conflicts with the other objectives is a political minefield.It’s also apparent that financial gain overrides the importance of mitigating the impact of climate change even though action can be taken at the current moment. In all fairness alternative energy was mentioned but no clear action or lack thereof was addressed.It leads to the notion that action will be taken when things get really bad and not necessarily for the people but the capitalist who would stand to lose their profits.

  21. Philip Pease says:

    That exchange, where they both said they would increase fossil fuel development, convinced me who to vote for; and it is Jill Stein of the Green Party. She is the only candidate who really gets it; that we face catastrophic consequences if we fail to act to cut greenhouse emissions and the urgency of the task.