The Obama campaign has a great page on addressing climate change and moving forward toward on a path of clean energy. But what about addressing the issue offline?There's a growing consensus among pundits that America needs a frank discussion about a strategy to address climate change. Not a debate on climate change, but a serious discussion about how to chart a new course that will ensure the security and energy needs of future generations.
It's not that climate change has been completely ignored in this campaign. After all, President Barack Obama has a really great detailed issue page on the environment which includes the need to address climate change and he does talk about clean energy on trail.
Mitt Romney, naturally, doesn't dare touch the issue now that he's etch-a-sketched himself (although American Bridge and the Jewish Council for Education and Research take Romney to task for his past remarks on climate change in a funny albeit profanity-laced video). But the reality is that outside of the occasionally throwaway line, climate change has received very little attention on the national stage. (For the record, Candy Crowley says that she ran out of time before she had a chance to ask a prepared question on climate change at the last debate.)
Eugene Robinson at The Washignton Post correctly argues that we need to hear more about climate change because it's going to be a major issue for whoever wins on November 6th:
Why does it matter that nobody is talking about climate change? Because if you accept that climate scientists are right about the warming of the atmosphere ? as Obama does, and Romney basically seems to as well ? then you understand that some big decisions will have to be made. You also understand that while there are some measures the United States could take unilaterally, carbon dioxide can never be controlled without the cooperation of other big emitters such as China, India and Brazil. You understand that this is an issue with complicated implications for global prosperity and security.Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker also highlights the fact that climate change is an "unmentionable" issue on the trail:
A presidential campaign offers an opportunity to educate and engage the American people in the decisions that climate change will force us to make. Unfortunately, Obama and Romney have chosen to see this more as an opportunity to pretend that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an approaching train.
Obama deserves credit for at least mentioning the need to control energy demand?rather than just supply?something that Romney never even alluded to. The President should also be commended for stressing the need to develop alternative?which is to say carbon-free?energy sources, which he called key to ?the jobs of the future.? But aside from the potential for job creation, the President could never quite bring himself to discuss why it might not be a good idea to burn every gallon?or cubic foot?of fossil fuels we could conceivably bring to the earth?s surface. In the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, climate change has become to the Obama Administration the Great Unmentionable, or, as the blogger Joe Romm has put it, The-Threat-That-Must-Not-Be Named.James Rainey at The Los Angeles Times:
The problem with the sort of energy debate we saw on Tuesday is not just that it?s fatuous, though it certainly is that. The problem is that you can?t solve a problem if you don?t even acknowledge it exists. The true challenge facing the next President is not how to bring down gas prices, which may or may not come down as a result of global trends. It?s how to move beyond the tired arguments of the past and act as if the future matters.
Like a lot of other issues, that goal had been subsumed by 2012 by the country?s economic malaise and political realities in Washington. Obama had pledged to pass a cap-and-trade system to reduce air pollution. The government would auction off permits for each metric ton of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, released. Obama projected that would bring in $15 billion in extra revenue a year, to be invested in clean-energy technology that would help produce those new jobs. But Congress wouldn?t approve cap-and-trade, killing a funding source that was expected to create those new jobs.The Baltimore Sun points to polling showing that "die-hard Second Amendment-loving deer hunters and fly fishermen feel strongly that the U.S. must do more about climate change." Their editorial raises a good point: why aren't the candidates running with the issue, since action on climate change is both the morally right and politically wise:
While Obama still talks about clean fuel technologies, he has learned the same lesson he has confronted on other issues ? the reality of governing can often shoot down big ambitions.
So if climate change is a priority for so many people in this country ? including a whole lot who identify themselves as conservative and GOP-leaning ? why has there been virtually no mention of arguably the most pressing environmental issue of the day in the presidential election? Mitt Romney's reluctance is understandable, as he's waffled around it over the years. If Mr. Romney is not an outright denier, he's at least a down-player. He declared on national television last month that he's "not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet," and he said something similar at the Republican National Convention.Next week, the candidates will have a chance to debate foreign policy. Back in 2011, military historian Eric Hemmel argued that climate change may be the biggest national security issue we face as a country, writing that the U.S. military is ill-equipped to deal with the fallout from "the overlapping rolling meta-disaster climatologists predict." From any perspective, climate change is a national security issue. It deserves attention at the upcoming foreign policy debate.
Mr. Obama's failure to raise the issue, however, is bewildering to many in the environmental community since his support for doing more about global warming has been clear cut (although not always a high priority). This year's extraordinary weather events ? droughts, floods, heat waves and the like ? have only made climate change more real to average voters. And climate scientists say the problem is worsening at an accelerating rate, so the urgency is there.
But here's the real puzzler: It could be a winning issue with undecided voters, those considered most crucial in this tight race. A recent poll by Yale and George Mason universities found 80 percent of undecided voters believe that global warming is happening, compared to 3 percent who claim it isn't. Two-thirds of them believe the federal government should do more about climate change, and more than 60 percent say it's an issue they'll consider in their selection of a president.
And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton teed it up with a speech on "energy diplomacy" at Georgetown yesterday:
Energy matters to America?s foreign policy for three fundamental reasons. First, it rests at the core of geopolitics, because fundamentally, energy is an issue of wealth and power, which means it can be both a source of conflict and cooperation. The United States has an interest in resolving disputes over energy, keeping energy supplies and markets stable through all manner of global crises, ensuring that countries don?t use their energy resources or proximity to shipping routes to force others to bend to their will or forgive their bad behavior, and above all, making sure that the American people?s access to energy is secure, reliable, affordable, and sustainable.Meanwhile, The New York Times editorial board points out that the candidates have barely touched the issue of epidemic gun violence:
Second, energy is essential to how we will power our economy and manage our environment in the 21st century. We therefore have an interest in promoting new technologies and sources of energy ? especially including renewables ? to reduce pollution, to diversify the global energy supply, to create jobs, and to address the very real threat of climate change.
Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Romney shows any interest in discussing this threat to public safety. The scourge includes 4.5 million firearms sold annually in the nation and more than one million people killed by guns in the past four decades. Research shows that among 23 populous, high-income nations, 80 percent of firearm deaths occurred in the United States, where citizens suffer homicide rates 6.9 times higher than in the other nations.Another must-read from Charles Pierce over at Esquire:
This nation needs sane and effective gun control policies, including the assault weapons ban, not political obfuscation. Whichever candidate wins, his term is certain to be marked by the shooting deaths of tens of thousands more Americans.
Suffice it to say that there has settled upon our politics, as we perceive them among ourselves, a notion that the rigged game is the only game in town.There's sure to be lots of analysis here on Daily Kos and around the web about Nate Silver's post last night about Gallup's tracking poll giving Romney a 7 point lead:
We have allowed ourselves to become mired in the habits of oligarchy, as though no other politics are possible, even in a putatively self-governing republic, and resignation is one of the most obvious of those habits. We acclimate ourselves to the habit of having our politics acted upon us, rather than insisting that they are ours to command. TV stars tell us that political stars are going to cut their Grand Bargain and that "we" will then applaud them for making the "tough choices" on our behalf. That is how you inculcate the habits of oligarchy in a political commonwealth. First, you disabuse people of the notion that government is the ultimate expression of that commonwealth, and then you eliminate or emasculate any centers of power that might exist independent of your smothering influence ? like, say, organized labor ? and then you make it quite clear who's in charge. I'm the boss. Get used to it.
Usually, when a poll is an outlier relative to the consensus, its results turn out badly.
You do not need to look any further than Gallup?s track record over the past two election cycles to find a demonstration of this.
In 2008, the Gallup poll put Mr. Obama 11 points ahead of John McCain on the eve of that November?s election. [...]
The context is that its most recent results differ substantially from the dozens of other state and national polls about the campaign. It?s much more likely that Gallup is wrong and everyone else is right than the other way around.