by David Minkow, via Climate Access
It’s hard to take, frankly. Another presidential debate and no mention of the most important, and most pressing, issue of all. The glaring omission of climate disruption from the presidential campaign represents an escape from reality (anyone else think it’s telling that the final debate was scheduled to coincide with Monday Night Football and the MLB playoffs?) and a lost opportunity that history will judge harshly.
We need presidential leadership on the issue, and I think it’s worth considering not just what the candidates would have said if a debate moderator had found time to ask a climate question, but what they could and should have said. I offer the following as an escape to reality:
“Thank you, Jim/Candy/Bob, very much for asking about where we stand on the issue of climate change. How we answer this question will have a great deal to do with how we will fare with the other challenges raised in these debates.
It is an extraordinary time to be alive. We have the ability to travel across the globe in a single day. We can communicate with the entire world from the palm of our hand. And we have the knowledge of just how marvelous the planet we inhabit is and how interconnected, and thus fragile, it all is.
Our lives and prosperity depend upon a stable climate. We are able to grow abundant food, drink fresh water and develop as a civilization because our planet features relatively consistent weather patterns. So, as the scientists have been telling us for quite a while now, it’s a big problem that our climate is becoming less and less stable. In the last few years, we’ve had more extreme weather events than ever in our history, costing America more than ever to deal with the consequences. And as you may have noticed, our weather is not what it used to be, from ponds no longer freezing each winter to planting and harvesting times out of whack.
What’s driving these changes and extreme weather events is climate disruption. There is overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is driving the disruption to our climate and that our nation, sadly, is one of the major drivers. And it is abundantly clear that climate disruption will get exponentially worse if we don’t do anything about it.
Beyond what the scientists say, we are starting to see the impacts of climate disruption with our own eyes in our communities. At the same time, for those forward-thinking places that are starting to address climate impacts by investing in the clean energy economy, and preparing for more extreme weather events, they are starting to see the benefits of their leadership and importance of believing in American ingenuity and innovation.
Investing in renewable energy technologies is creating jobs and providing training opportunities for our young people. Jobs in clean energy and sustainability are safe, well-paid jobs you can feel proud of. People and businesses are relocating to communities that have invested in modern, efficient transportation systems or are walkable due to forward-thinking planning. Business and communities are saving money and improving quality of life through smart building design and energy efficiency programs.
Right now, there are courageous, committed and far-sighted individuals, businesses, neighborhood groups, faith leaders and local officials throughout America who are working diligently on these and many other solutions and are trying to figure out how to get the rest of us engaged.
But there are folks standing in their way. There are some who would like to see American’s dependence on fossil fuels continue, benefitting the few at the cost to many. They are pouring money into misinformation campaigns run by think tanks and front groups that are designed to distort media coverage, undermine education efforts and attack the credibility of those working on the issue.