Climate change concerns majority of Americans. Response from country’s leaders: “Meh.”

by Jesse Coleman

October 11, 2012

Greenpeace climbers rappel down the face of Mount Rushmore in 2009 to unfurl a banner challenging President Obama to lead on global warming.

Our leaders appear mum on the issue, yet the majority of Americans now think climate change is worsening extreme weather events such as the record-breaking heat and hazardous storms this summer, according to a recent survey.Where has climate change been in this election?Will todays debatebetween the vice presidential candidates actually address theenvironment, a topic not even mentioned in the presidential debates?

There is little hope for any truth on environmental issues from Rep. PaulRyan. A favorite of the oil billionaire, anti-climate science Kochbrothers, Ryan has a hard time believing in global climate changebecause it snowed in the winter of 2009in Wisconsin.

He has also promoted the clean coal myth. Very likely he willfollow Mitt Romneys lead, and repeat various fossil-funded talkingpoints, while ignoring the threat to the climate posed by business asusual.

Vice President Joe Biden however, might say something more substantive about climatechange. Biden has been honest about coal in the past, saying thatclean coal is not part of Americas energy future in 2008. However, he promoted the “clean coal” myth in the 2008 vice presidential debate vs. Sarah Palin.

Both former Governor Romney and President Obama set an extraordinarily low bar on environmentalissues in the first presidential debate last week. Theword environment was mentioned one time when MittRomney said in this business environment.

Instead of mentioning the extreme weather that has caused billions indamages in the last year, President Obama pushed fracking, an unproventechnology with proven environmental and social cost(including to the climate), while candidate Mitt Romney parroted 4-decade old coal industry talking points, even saying I like coal.

Climate change, both very real and very serious, was not mentioned atall. Clean Coal,of which the Washington Post notes, there is nosuch thing, did get a mention.

All the while,the longest fire season in memory has bankrupted thefirefighting budget in Colorado -host state to the first debate- whiledrought has mercilessly scorched various parts of the country, whichwill cause a serious rise in food prices.

Or perhaps Governor Romney and President Obama haven’t noticed the Arctic melting or as environmentalist Bill McKibben chided on Twitter “Oh, that.”

Should we expect any better from tonight’s vice presidential debates?

I sure hope so.

We cant tackle the biggest problem of our time if our political leaders remain silent and offer no plans for a different future.Our elected officials have the power to make this happen if they want to. The just have to have the will to break free from the fossil fuel industry. If we can put a person on the moon then we can do this. The time is now to shift to clean energy like wind and solar. The technology exists.

This years election is an amazing opportunity to have a serious conversation about climate change once and for all.

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