Presidential Candidates Avoid Climate For First Time In Nearly 25 Years

For the first time since 1988, presidential candidates did not mention the issue of climate change during debates.

Even as the world has seen 331 consecutive months with global temperatures over the 20th century average, even as extreme weather gets more intense and expensive, even as the Arctic sees unprecedented melt of sea ice, and even as scientists issue dire warnings about an approaching climate “tipping point,” the issue got no mention at all within three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

At the end of tonight’s foreign policy debate, CBS’ Bob Scheiffer got the closest of anyone to the issue: “What do you believe is the greatest future threat to the national security of this country?” he asked.

Alas, nothing from the candidates on climate — an issue that experts say will be a central driver of foreign policy over the coming decade.

Nostalgic for a time when climate change was a serious issue for candidates? Watch the video compilation below:

30 Responses to Presidential Candidates Avoid Climate For First Time In Nearly 25 Years

  1. prokaryotes says:

    The Green party’s presidential candidate has called Barack Obama a “climate denier” for failing to talk about climate change during the elections.

    On the eve of the third and final presidential debate, the Green party’s Jill Stein said Obama’s failure to speak out about environmental concerns made him virtually identical to Republicans who deny the human causes of global warming.

    The absence of climate change from the elections, after a year of record temperatures, wildfires and drought, has hugely frustrated environmental campaigners.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    The tipoff was choosing Bob Schieffer of CBS to moderate. Bob is a sonorous airhead who would never say anything to even irritate his masters. In firing Rather and promoting Schieffer, reporters got the message.

    Schieffer, being him, provided cover for the candidates, neither of whom has shown the qualities needed to act decisively about our little climate problem. There is a slight chance that Obama will awaken in his second term, but it’s a slim reed to pin our hopes on.

  3. Ozonator says:

    A denier is one who is paid or gains some pecuniary amount through plagiarizing extremist media outlets. Ralph Nader took money to run against Al Gore taking away votes and ushering in 8 years of Bush, Katrina, crop reductions from here to the Middle East, and AGW related quakes generating tsunamis in the Indian Oceans and Northern Pacific.

  4. fj says:

    Such an issue of profound global security dare we hope that our leaders are feverishly working behind the scenes with an intense sense of purpose and survival or is it the mere hum drum of the world ending with a wimper from business as usual and brinkmanship drawing us irrevocably to a devastating chaos of disasters?

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    Global Warming ripping our souls apart…

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The powers-that-be, who own Obama and one of whom Romney is, want climate destabilisation to happen. No other answer makes the least sense. Not denial, not idiocy, not ignorance. Only deliberate and concerted determination that it will be so is logically consistent with their behaviour. In Australia the Right’s denialism and fanatic hatred of every form of environmentalism is only growing more toxic and hate-filled, almost by the day.

  7. Dan B says:

    Depressing, depressing, depressing.

    Obama’s charisma and intellect is unleashed with no emotional heft on the climate crisis or on any visionary solutions, with not a word on either. He must believe that his actions speak volumes, and the words are just window dressing.

    Fire David Axelrod now. That will show he’s got what it takes.

    Sad. Especially saddening to realize that the ancient Greeks knew how. My grandfather studied Greek in public school in Arkansas, and Latin, and read the classics. He operated three major businesses and sent his children to Oberlin College, Harvard, MIT, and the University of Michigan. They did well, very well, on a foundation of the classics.

    Now we’ve got brilliant communicators and persuaders from the religious far-right using the same principles while progressives want to believe that the “facts” will persuade people to act in their own best interest.

    So why did the tourists in Thailand wander out onto the beach as the tide receded before the Tsunami? What “fact” didn’t register?

  8. Peter M says:

    Progress on climate change policy is 2 decades away at least CP readers. Look forward to us not peaking our carbon emissions until 2040 or 2050. So 605ppm is now a given easily- likely more- and that 4 degrees rise is a near certainty.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Sorry. Axelrod controls Obama, as Emanuel did before. Not the other way around.

  10. Artful Dodger says:

    Read a good history of climate engineering studies through the 1950s-1970s here:

  11. NJP1 says:

    Whether chatting with a group of friends or taking art in a presidential debate, bringing up the subject of climate change, population control or energy depletion (subjects all interrelated) has the same effect: everyone starts running for the door.
    So we’d better face up to the truth, neither Obama or Romney can fix climate change. Paper over a few cracks maybe to make it look as if things are OK, but they’re not OK. They are driven by the same forces as everybody else, they have a job and want to keep it, ranting on about climate change will mean certain redundancy so they keep on deluding people for a few more years and hang on to office.
    For the reality of all this, look to the previous incumbent of the White House
    George W was heavily involved in the oil industry, and not exactly eco friendly.
    But check out what he arranged for his own situation. The Bush ranch functions totally off grid, you just have to be able to afford it that’s all

  12. Artful Dodger says:

    Axelrod is an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

    You don’t win at chess by going after the Rook. You have to go after the King. has it right. Except that it should be

  13. Anne says:

    There appear to be two very different brands of silence at play here: good quiet and bad quiet. Team Obama has apparently gone underground with its climate programs, and prefers the stealth approach over a more flamboyant one, to avoid creating targets for the denialists and entrenched corporate fossil fuel interests. Walking the walk without talking the talk is much better than the inverse (e.g, “W”) – as it’s clear that any major climate policy announcement would be DOA: shot down before it even got a breath out. Contrast with Romney’s silence: his is to deny it as a serious topic, with the exception of obnoxiously mocking Obama. The tragedy of “the good quiet” strategy is, while it’s tactically wise to lurk in the shadows whilst cutting carbon emissions, there is only so much you can do in the bureaucratic tunnels. Overt is better than covert, for sure. Maybe Hillary will have some influence over Barack in his second term, fingers-n-toes crossed.

  14. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Get real folks. He has to get relected first. You’ve got the first Pres in a long time that knows that ‘crash or crash through’ has not served you well- remember Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan? Big wins?

    Grow up and join the planet in our fight for life, ME

  15. prokaryotes says:

    Yes. But this is in part because of weak leadership on this topic. People are unsure and afraid of climate change and this will only grow with more disasters. But we have to fight global warming otherwise all the topics people chat about or the debate yesterday night become irrelevant during collapse of our world.

    Obama won the third presidential debate, but what about climate change?

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Global warming is, well, global. Emissions here count just the same as emissions anywhere else. So, ultimately, facing up to the challenge will require many countries moving in the same direction with enough speed. Without adequately discussing climate change in a global context, the candidates’ foreign policy agendas and even their economic plans, so preoccupied as they are with energy policy, are utterly incomplete.

  17. prokaryotes says:

    My problem is that he announced climate change to be a campaign issue and now he is not following up to that promise. So i can not really say anything certain about climate change and this administration. My gut feeling is that they take it very serious.

    But to be silence on it is just silly.

  18. Rangachari Anand says:

    This is right one the mark. There are indeed different kinds of silence.

  19. John McCormick says:

    Dan, your reminder of the tourist standing at the shore waiting for the tsunami is about as close as I can come to imagining the civilized world waiting for 2 degree C increase in global temperature.

  20. prokaryotes says:

    The information deficit model or deficit model relates to the way in which ideas are communicated. The most prominent notion of this is the transfer of knowledge from experts and to public and the perceived breakdown in the exchange of this information. This causes an information deficit within the general public contributing to various outcomes that attribute information deficits to an increase in sociological, psychological and scientific concerns.
    The information deficit model can relate to any particular field of knowledge. The deficit model of science concerts itself with how scientific, and more recently environmental, ideas are communicated.

  21. That is true, but McKibben has no policy recommendations. Yes, he names a sickness but then relies on someone else to prescribe the treatment.

  22. Ken Barrows says:


    Of course, accepting your view of Nader as true, I can only conclude that Barack Obama would never have been President of the United States without Ralph.

  23. Ken Barrows says:

    So many of you are so hopeful that Democrats will save the day. I admire your lack of cynicism but also sometimes think you’re quite self-deluded.

  24. Removing oil from the economic system is going to be like removing the agar-agar from the Petri dish. We simply will not be able to find as potent a growth medium fast enough to replace it. That is the stark truth at the bottom of Obama’s silence. Secretary of Energy Chu clearly understands this. The silence is an appalling, sad, but unavoidably necessary political calculation at this critical juncture.

    The point about the Australian right’s anger is spot on. The situation is similar to war: those who are about to face the horrible finality of loss rage and fight with their last ounce of strength. If Obama starts talking about what is really required, he will lose, and have zero chance of influencing the path forward. He may do worse than lose. He may give ammunition to the fearful. Nothing provokes mob reaction like fear. FDR was not talking through his hat in 1932.

    Even some of my colleagues in the renewables industry do not want to discuss the impending calamity. They react by blaming the system for a lack of progress, or by happy-facing the possibility of implementing current technology. The lack of progress on climate issues stems from various complexities, including outright manipulation from the vested interests, but comes down to this: none of us wants to give up our way of life. One cannot, with a straight face, use the internet to castigate those who use the internet.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us.

    Let’s focus on how to persuade enough people to believe that the crisis is real. Having Obama further frighten the fearful isn’t going to do it. Like it or not, while those of us on this site are ready to be leveled with, most people aren’t. In fact, they will resist such news mightily.

  25. Artful Dodger says:

    Hi Wesley, Bill McKibbon is not

    Crowd-sourcing leadership makes the organization resilient to all kinds of mischief which the Neocons have used in the past.

    Anyone with passion and vision can contribute. That’s what makes the movement powerful and attractive. It’s also the best hope for being effective in the long run.

    There’s lot’s of good policy at the website. Here’s a Brief Primer on International Climate Policy:

  26. I agree. I have used this somewhat clunky analogy. On a 1-100 scale we need (as a nation and ultimately a planet) an intervention on the order of, let’s say 92/100 to limit carbon emissions and develop non-carbon energy/efficiency, etc. Romney is a 2/100 (I figure there must be worse!)- he is on record as saying ‘we don’t know’ what causes warming. Obama is maybe an 8/100. That is 400% better than Romney!!! And maybe he will move to an 18/100 in a 2nd term- 900% better. And, FAR, FAR short of the 92/100 (soon to be 93, 94, etc.) that is needed. My gloomy take :((((

  27. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Silly? Have you heard of ‘strategy’? ME

  28. prokaryotes says:

    Yes, but it is a silly strategy. What gain is there to be silence on climate change?

    What would actually happen when Obama would start to talk on this topic?

    Romney has no credibility on this topic because he is calling to make climate change even worse. Obama could just debunk every claim, even the cost to change are minor and he is already calling for trillions, so what?

  29. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Have you seen the filthy campaigns against clean energy and renewables? He has plenty of time to talk and act after the election when he doesn’t have to risk any votes, ME