No Talk of Climate Change

October 25th, 2012 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on No Talk of Climate Change

Monday night President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, engaged in a foreign policy debate discussing topics on American policy in Libya, Afghanistan, China, Iraq, and Iran. They did make brief mentions of energy independence, but climate change was never discussed – not by the candidates, and not by the debate moderator, Bob Schieffer of CBS News. Roughly 70,000 words were spoken from the candidates and moderator and yet the words “climate change” and “global warming” were not among them. Historians have already noted that this marked the first time since 1988 that the topic has failed to receive even a mention in an election debate season.

The debate was the obvious opportunity to have this discussion from the two presidential candidates on the very important issue of climate change and dealing with global warming. The Pentagon ranks it as a national security threat and if we continue on our current path, climate change is expected to cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars every year – and yet, it was somehow not worthy of even a mention in our national dialog as we look to elect a President who will preside over the rapidly changing impact of global warming and climate change.

Amid unprecedented melting of the Arctic summer sea ice, new temperature records in the U.S., and a historic drought – it’s stunning that our conversation is not focused on the global impact of how our climate is changing and how this will affect not only the United States, but the entire world.

At the end of Monday night‘s foreign policy debate, moderator Bob Scheiffer got the closest of anyone to the issue when he asked: “What do you believe is the greatest future threat to the national security of this country?”

A good opening response to this question (in my alternative universe) would have been . . . “almost every major international issue — energy access, international trade, food prices, technology sharing, and military operations — all have a deeply embedded climate component”. But quite honestly, unless we are somehow talking tough – invoking bluster and attitude about foreign policy – a candidate is now perceived as weak.

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing our approach to climate change is that it has now been reduced to a niche issue in our conversation on foreign affairs. In a time when the evidence is overwhelming that this is one of the most critical challenges facing the world community – this is not acceptable. If we dealt with any other pressing issue of national security with the same lack of interest and intensity, it would be considered irresponsible beyond comprehension, and yet with climate change – it’s just blown off as those wacky environmentalists making noise again.

Our political community needs to wake up to the importance and urgency of this critical issue; but since that’s probably not going to happen any time soon, I guess I’ll just be one of those wacky environmentalists who keeps making a lot of noise about the health and well being of our planet and all of it’s inhabitants. It’s time for all of us to start making a lot more noise. Apparently, we’re not being heard.