Much has been made of the fact that climate change was not mentioned during the presidential debates this year for the first time since 1984. Last week, President Obama mentioned that he expected to talk about it. “I’m surprised it didn’t come up in one of the debates,” Obama said during an October 26 MTV interview with Sway Williams.
It is surprising indeed to those of us who care about the environment. BUT why is Obama surprised that it didn’t come up? An article on the website of a Southern California public radio station points out that “there are ways the candidates could sidle up to the subject while talking about energy independence.” The writer goes on to state that in the MTV interview, Obama talked about climate change “more directly than he generally has in the campaign.” Or during the debates, I would add.
Obama contrasts his stance on climate change to Romney’s
“There’s a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney,” Obama said during the MTV interview. The biggest difference, as Obama stated, it that Romney “says he believes in climate change…but he says he’s not sure if man-made causes are the reason.” Obama, on the other hand, believes “scientists who say we are putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and it’s heating the planet, and it’s going to have a severe effect.”
Did Obama get it right about what Romney believes concerning climate change? Science Debate asked both candidates in September what they would do to tackle climate change. In his answer, Romney stated that he does believe the “world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming.” However, he also stated that “there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.”
Obama fails to mention the EPA rule on power plants
During the MTV interview, Willliams asked Obama what he will do to make climate change a priority during a second term. Obama responded by listing two things his administration has already done to reduce carbon emissions:
- Doubling fuel efficiency on cars and trucks. “The first increase in 30 years in fuel mileage standards,” Obama said.
- Doubling clean energy production.
What is surprising is that he didn’t mention the EPA rule, finalized in August, under the Clean Air Act that deals with emissions from power plants. The rule limits carbon emissions from new power plants to 1,000 pounds per megawatt hour of power produced. It seems to me that rule should have been mentioned as third on the list of things the Obama administration has done to deal with climate change.
As I write this article, Hurricane Sandy is wreaking havoc on the east coast of the U.S. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that we are already experiencing the effects of climate change. It seems to me that if Obama is elected for a second term, he will need to make climate change much more of a priority than he has during the campaign.