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Environmental activists and their supporters in the media are appalled that not a single question in the presidential debates focused on climate change.
Writing in the New York Times, David Leonhardt said, “the lack of a single question on the world’s biggest problem was a grievous error.”
May Boeve, executive director of climate group 350 Action, complained in the Guardian that, “This crisis threatens our communities, our economy, and the future for our children … yet climate change doesn’t get a single direct question in the debate.”
Baltimore Sun editorial staff concluded, “Shame on the various moderators for not insisting that (Donald) Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak directly on such a critically important topic.”
Even if they weren’t asked about climate change by the moderators, Clinton or Trump could have easily bridged the questions posed to them to that issue, if they had wanted to do so.
Clearly, neither of them placed a high priority on the issue.
And that is exactly how it should have been.
Contrast climate change with many of the topics asked about in the debates: The Syrian civil war (asked about six times), terrorism (four times), Russia (three times), immigration (three), job creation (three), and the national debt (twice). These are real issues demanding our attention.
Consider the facts.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the statistical average of surface temperatures increased 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit (0.85 degrees Celsius) between 1880 to 2012.
Humanity’s contribution to this relatively small temperature rise is not a problem of the same importance as terrorism.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website shows that the incidence of extreme weather state records has been decreasing in recent years.
Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, summarized the situation well in 2014: “When you read that the cost of disasters is increasing, it’s tempting to think that it must be because more storms are happening. … In reality, the numbers reflect more damage from catastrophes because the world is getting wealthier. We’re seeing ever-larger losses simply because we have more to lose.”
The current rate of sea level rise is less than one tenth that of 8,000 years ago.
There are regions in the ocean where pH (a measure of acidity) varies more in a day than the most extreme forecasts for the 21st century, yet ocean life adapts.
Arctic summer sea ice area increased almost a million square kilometers between the low of 2012 and this year.
Yet Vox, a prominent American advocacy news website, argued, “Humanity is departing from the stable climatic conditions that allowed civilization to thrive, yet the most powerful nation on Earth can’t set aside five minutes to discuss.”
The best answer to environmental activists and their media supporters was unexpectedly provided last year by Clinton herself.
In the leaked emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, published by Wikileaks, it was revealed that in her September 9, 2015 meeting with the Building Trades Union, Clinton said, “They (climate activists) say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life, you know.”
[Originally Published at Toronto Sun]