Year 3, Month 11, Day 2: But They Say There’s A Hell. What The Hell? What The Hell Do They Think THIS Is?

The Dallas Daily News runs a NYT article on climate ignorage in the Presidential campaign:

WASHINGTON — For all their disputes, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree that the world is warming and that humans are at least partly to blame. It remains wholly unclear what either of them plans to do about it.

Even after a year of record-smashing temperatures, drought and Arctic ice melt, none of the moderators of the four general election debates asked about climate change, nor did any of the candidates broach the topic.

Throughout the campaign, Obama and Romney have seemed most intent on trying to outdo each other as lovers of coal, oil and natural gas — the very fuels most responsible for rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Obama has supported broad climate change legislation, financed extensive clean energy projects and pushed new regulations to reduce global warming emissions from cars and power plants. But neither he nor Romney has laid out a legislative or regulatory program to address the fundamental questions arising from one of the most vexing economic, environmental, political and humanitarian issues to face the planet.

Should the United States cut its greenhouse gas emissions, and, if so, how far and how fast? Should fossil fuels be more heavily taxed? Should any form of clean energy be subsidized, and for how long? Should the United States lead international mitigation efforts? Should the nation pour billions of new dollars into basic energy research? Is the climate system so fraught with uncertainty that the rational response is to do nothing?

Many scientists and policy experts say the lack of a serious discussion of climate change in the presidential contest represents a lost opportunity to engage the public and to signal to the rest of the world U.S. intentions for dealing with what is, by definition, a global problem that requires global cooperation.

“On climate change, the political discourse here is massively out of step with the rest of the world, but also with the citizens of this country,” said Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute and a former special envoy for climate change at the World Bank. “Polls show very clearly that two-thirds of Americans think this is a real problem and needs to be addressed.”

Nothin’ to see here, folks. Move along, move along. Sent October 26:

It must be difficult to be Mitt Romney — agreeing on one hand with the scientists who’ve studied the problem of climate change, yet prevented from stating his agreement definitively in public by the anti-intellectual intransigence of the tea-party conservatives who comprise his (not entirely willing) electoral base. Given Romney’s pathological aversion to a definite commitment on anything beyond the idea that he deserves to be president, such cowardice is understandable, although hardly a recommendation for the position he seeks.

President Obama’s reluctance to discuss climate change, however, most likely springs from a strategic avoidance of controversy. Given the firestorm of opprobrium engendered by his adoption of Republican ideas about health care, one can only imagine the howls of outrage from conservatives were he to actually make the long-term future of our civilization a legislative priority. Through judicious executive orders, he has made significant strides on energy efficiency and environmental responsibility without engaging our know-nothing congress the futile and ugly wrangling that characterized the eventual passage of the Affordable Care Act.

While neither candidate represents an optimal choice for those cognizant of the magnitude of the climate crisis, there is no equivalence between their respective silences on the subject.

Warren Senders

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