Democrats & Liberals Archives

Why No Questions about Climate Change?

Have you noticed that at these political debates, nobody asks questions about the biggest threat facing this nation as well as the world: climate change? Sure, occasionally the candidates talk about energy independence or something similar. But questioners never bring up the subject. Why?

The answer is simple:

One can't talk about coal without noting its influence in this campaign season. A very obvious place we see its thrust: the industry is once again sponsoring the Democratic presidential debate tonight. "Americans for Balanced Energy Choices," an astroturf organization that promotes the interests of mining and other coal-related companies, has sponsored a number of this year's debates, which has meant that nearly every commercial break has brought us ads much like this one touting the virtues of this dirty, dangerous, climate-endangering fossil fuel.

The worst polluting and CO2-emitting fuel is coal. Greater use of coal that these guys recommend will hasten the climate catastrophe we dread. Furthermore it will make it very hard to reduce CO2 emissions and it will prolong the catastrophe. More than any other fuel we must get rid of coal!

They talk a lot about "clean mining" and "clean coal." They are both phony expressions. All you need do is go to a coal mining site in Appalachia and see how the land has been ruined by "clean mining."

As for "clean coal," the industry touts that it can take the CO2 out of coal-firing plants and "sequester" it in underground storage caverns. Ask them how many plants do this. Ask them what would happen if the CO2 leaked and killed a few people. Several people have already been killed with rising CO2 (though the CO2 did not come from "sequestered" places).

Just give us some research money, and we will produce "clean coal," they say. Fat chance. Besides, why waste research money on dirty and CO2-emitting coal, when we should invest in research on truly clean and non-CO2-emitting fuels, such as wind and solar and other non-carbon approaches.

The coal industry is fighting us every step of the way. They keep discussion about the climate-change problem off the air by sponsoring political debates. Is there a community-minded company that will sponsor such debates and encourage clean-fuel discussion in the future?

Posted by Paul Siegel at February 23, 2008 1:11 PM
Comments
Comment #246196

Sorry Paul, while your question is a good one, your answer is false. Candidates are not being asked this question for the same reason there are declining questions about the war on terrorism.

Man-made global warming is a false theory with more and more former scientific adherents leaving the so-called consensus.

The war on terror has seen some substantial progress and most Americans are not willing to abandon our efforts at this time.

Posted by: Jim M at February 23, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #246218

I have watched all the democratic debates and I tried to watch the first republican debate but got so freaked out I couldn’t stay with it. With that said, they have asked questions about gobal warming in some of the democratic debates not all of them and probably not in the last two. I think it has more to do with them trying to find areas where clinton and obama might disagree since they both tend to agree on what to do about gobal warming its no fun to the moderators. They want them to attack and fight. Can’t get that if you ask questions about subjects that they agree on.

Of course, lord knows I could be wrong and I am sure if I am someone here will let me know.

Posted by: Carolina at February 23, 2008 3:40 PM
Comment #246219

John McCain has been talking about climate change for years and unlike Obama and Clinton, he has really put his effort where his rhetoric is. He mentioned his fight fight against global warming in the primaries, even though he knew that much of his base would dislike him for it. John McCain even wrote an article about it, along with Joe Lieberman.

So fighting global warming is now OUR issue. Maybe in the Dem debates they should bring up climate change a bit more and try to play the catch up game. Or maybe they really don’t care.

Posted by: Jack at February 23, 2008 3:44 PM
Comment #246222

Regardless of who gets the nominations or ultimately gets elected, it is clear that the next POTUS will be an improvement over his predecessor. I am willing to make this compromise on clean coal, that this technology be used in coastal areas where the prevailing winds will carry anything coming out of the smokestacks out to sea, and the ash to be similarly disposed of, beyond the continental shelf.

Wind and solar would have to change into something much more advanced than what we have now, to be practical on a large scale, because it takes too much space to produce the energy. Nuclear anyone? I guess not, but whatever happened to hydrogen, http://www.hydrogennow.org/index.html, and other space age fuels.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 23, 2008 5:48 PM
Comment #246226

All of the three remaining candidates were co-sponsors of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. It didn’t pass (or get anywhere, as far as I can tell), but this bodes well for the future.

It is true that the media have asked the candidates very few questions about climate change, in the debates or elsewhere. Some group did a quantitative study and found that there were about as many questions about UFOs. Go figure.

Posted by: Woody Mena at February 23, 2008 7:04 PM
Comment #246231

That link screwed up because I did not allow a space before the comma, but this one is more basic and informative:

http://www.hydrogennow.org/Facts/FAQs.htm

Posted by: ohrealy at February 23, 2008 8:20 PM
Comment #246246

No that Al Gore is clearly out of the race, I think many who were trying to create the ‘global emergency’ to propel Gore to the White House are backing off on that. Now they have Obama and don’t want Gore.

Also, I’ve got five foot piles of snow in my front yard that my dog likes to climb up on top of and sit down like a king on a throne. When people are buried in snow, global warming slips down on the priority list.

But I think that alternative fuels and reducing pollution remain popular with the public and we shall continue to see an acceleration in the move toward alternative fuels globally… including nuclear.

Also, we have a VAST amount of energy available to us in coal. Don’t give up on coal, don’t toss the baby out with the bathwater. It is possible to burn coal cleanly, it’s just EXPENSIVE to do so, to clean up the waste products before it hits the atmosphere. Some day, super clean burning coal plants might provide the US with the bulk of it’s energy from it’s own coal fields.

I believe that Environmentalists should abandon political correctness and embrace solutions.

Posted by: Stephen at February 24, 2008 12:22 AM
Comment #246247

Carolina,

I don’t believe the moderators are looking for a fight. They are looking for areas in which the candidates can differentiate themselves.


And I would add this. If the candidates have no substantial difference on the issues…why is that? Did they just happen to be of the same mind? Or, is some sort of politically correct filter in place that insists that all candidates agree on all the issues? Have we reached the point where one faction controls the entire party and demands obedience to an agenda that dictates all positions on all issues?


Obama and Hillary are nearly identical with one claiming to be “experience” and the other claiming to be “change”. Neither one really has a compelling case with Obama not having really created change in Washington and Hillary attempting to borrow her husbands experience.

Posted by: stephen at February 24, 2008 12:31 AM
Comment #246248

ohrealy,

Isn’t the problem with Hydrogen the fact that it does not exist in any form that can be readily used. It has to be extracted from water. And the energy you need to extract it is more than the energy it creates once you have it.

So you might as well put that energy directly into a rechargeable batter and forget the waste involved in creating hydrogen and then creating a hydrogen distribution system.

In my opinion, the “hydrogen highway” is still born” and clean energy combined with rechargeable cars is where we are going. We already have the distribution system in place to get the energy to the cars, our power lines. Yes we may have to build a few more but it wont be as costly or wasteful as moving to hydrogen.

Posted by: Stephen at February 24, 2008 12:37 AM
Comment #246258

Stephen,

“Also, I’ve got five foot piles of snow in my front yard that my dog likes to climb up on top of and sit down like a king on a throne. When people are buried in snow, global warming slips down on the priority list.”

When people are buried in snow they appear to believe that America is the only country on the planet.

Posted by: Rocky at February 24, 2008 7:16 AM
Comment #246264

Rocky,

“When people are buried in snow they appear to believe that America is the only country on the planet.”

Just like to point out im in Germany and im freezing my butt off. Last week even we were dancing with -2 or -3C so America isnt the only country in the world where people are cold.

Posted by: Ayoungmind at February 24, 2008 9:41 AM
Comment #246269

Paul,

You’ve only touched on part of the story. The coal industry (very big in Pennsylvania, a swing state BTW) is only one of the fingers in the political pie. There’s also the auto industry and the oil companies and the steel mills and everyone else that makes money by dirtying up our planet. We have global warming because it is more fun to be cheap and make more money than it is to be responsible and make less. Global warming rains on that parade.

Jack,

Yes, global warming is OUR issue. Everyone’s issue. America’s issue. Any attempt to claim it as belonging to EITHER side is nothing more than an attempt to score political brownie points, and I’d like to think better of you than that. The only sides in this issue are those who understand that it is happening and those who are too comfortable or too greedy to admit the truth.

Stephen

Too many people think that “global warming” means shorts in January and don’t realize that a increase in global temperature of 3 degrees at the equator would result in our shorelines moving in about 3 miles. If you want some proof, check out how Chicago has spent far more this year on pothole repairs than usual. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen it this bad. Of course, potholes are caused by repeated thaws and freezes, and Chicago has had at least 3 drops in temperature of 40 degrees or more this winter.

ohreally,

So if all the pollution goes out to sea, it’s okay? It only matters if it on US soil? C’mon, don’t be so naive. It’s all one little planet, my friend. If you don’t believe me, check out the info on the dead areas in the ocean. As for hydrogen, it’s only a way to store energy, not a source in and of itself, and nuclear has all that nasty irradiated waste, and the only really good way to get rid of that is to shoot it into space, and how much does that cost? I think the only good solution is a combination of passive and active solar, wind, geothermal, and hydrogen created by tapping into one of the above. Any one isn’t enough by itself.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at February 24, 2008 10:07 AM
Comment #246270

Paul,

The power elite never talk about real issues. Their goal is to dissuade opponents voters, and encourage their voters. This necessitates attack “gotcha” politics.

While I disagree that global warming is the most important issue, Oil dependence should be near the top. We’ve fought two world wars principally over oil and are approaching a third.

I would rather have “clean coal” and nuclear energy than a world war.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 24, 2008 10:13 AM
Comment #246277

Leather

You are right. Sorry.

I will put another way. I believe that John McCain will work out a better, more market based approach that will lower CO2 emissions faster and at a lower cost than the the more command and control programs I would expect from Obama or Clinton.

I think it will be in the details of execution, but those details will be important. So it is “our” issue in that it is important to all of us, but it is “our” (McCain’s) issue in that he will do a better job addressing it.

As a Clinton might say, it depends on what “our” means.

Posted by: Jack at February 24, 2008 11:26 AM
Comment #246281

I am not a big fan of coal mining, coal burning or coal waste, but we have a lot of coal. Making the burning of it cleaner and disposing of the waste more sensibly is more attainable in a shorter period of time than creating enough solar and wind farms near the areas that use the most power. Nuclear will apparently never make a comeback, and the aging nuclear plants will have to be replaced with something.

I am aware of the dead zone problem, but do not think coal ash will contribute much to that problem compared to agricultural fertilizer:
http://disc.gsfc.nasa.gov/oceancolor/scifocus/oceanColor/dead_zones.shtml

Posted by: ohrealy at February 24, 2008 12:13 PM
Comment #246284

My prediction…ten years from now many of those on this blog will be advocating draconian measures to deal with man-made global cooling. Sensible folks understand that climate is, and always has been, cyclical and man’s puny efforts to control or influence climate is just so much “hot” air. The intervening ten years will see billions of dollars squandered, money that could be used for sound beneficial projects.

Posted by: Jim M at February 24, 2008 12:34 PM
Comment #246288

Nuclear power in Illinois, the most nuclear of states.:

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/states/statesil.html

Posted by: ohrealy at February 24, 2008 1:03 PM
Comment #246295

Jack
Any support for your opinion that McCain will do a better job than Obama on climate change? For that matter will he do anything beyond lip service like Bushco? Will he really do anything to displease the oil oligarchs? not likely IMO.

Posted by: bills at February 24, 2008 1:22 PM
Comment #246297

BillS

McCain sponsored legislation on this and has led the way. Check out my links in my first post.

He will have trouble, just like Obama and Clinton will have trouble, getting things to work. But consider this. McCain took his postition on climate change before it was generally popular and when he knew it would hurt him with his base. It took courage to do that. For Clinton and Obama it is just the easy way to go. McCain has brought the subject up. As Paul points out, Clinton and Obama have ducked the issue except for the platitudes.

JimM

A carbon tax is a good idea whether or not you think global warming is a problem. We need to reduce our use of oil, which often comes from unstable regions of the world and enriches despots.

I would not count out nukes, BTW. They are a clean and safe form of power compared to most alternatives. Sooner or later even the technophobes will come to understand that.

Posted by: Jack at February 24, 2008 1:43 PM
Comment #246304

The era of dumbing everything down should end on Jan 20, 2009, regardless of who is elected. We can get beyond carbon and windmills if we make the effort.
http://www.fnal.gov/fermilab_home.html

Posted by: ohrealy at February 24, 2008 2:51 PM
Comment #246337

Rocky,

My point was not that we are not having climate change. My point was that when people are buried in snow, it moves down on their priority list. Which is in direct response to the lead article asking why Climate change is not a big campaign issue.

It’s not because the candidates are focusing on what people want to hear….and right now, in the middle of a cold, snowy winter they don’t care to hear about global warming.


I have no problem at all with global warming, I support efforts at clean energy, and have made numerous changes in my home to save energy. But I also don’t happen to believe in the “man made it a disaster” agenda of the left.

But whether people believe we are headed for a disaster or not there is common ground for action. And that is where REASONABLE people should go. Nearly everyone opposes pollution and would like an energy independent US. So lets continue to fight pollution which is what you would do if you believed in Man Made Global Warming or not…right?

Posted by: Stephen at February 24, 2008 9:10 PM
Comment #246338

Jim,

I’m with you. I lived through the first “man made global ice age” scare. Now we have the “man made global melt down scare” and I suspect our bold, politically correct scientists will indeed one day be promoting a new….man has created a new ice age scare.

I think your ten year window is too narrow but still possible. I think it will take 15 years for the next global cooling cycle to hit hard and cause the wackos to flip flop and continue to push their agenda with junk science.

Posted by: Stephen at February 24, 2008 9:14 PM
Comment #246339

I’m glad to see that the word is getting out that fuel from food crops is damaging the environment and harmful to the poor. The UN is pushing that news. Some scientests in Europe have been beating the drum. And now some US science journals are putting out the word.


Too bad our pandering politicians passed a increased use of CORN to Ethanol in order to pander to the mindless politically correct. They have hurt the environment, they have damaged the poor and all of us, and they get take a bow for doing it in front of brainless, knee-jerk environmentalists.


The word is getting out and I’d like to see the US BAN any ethanol created from food crops or crop land at all. This is just bad bad bad and we need to keep letting people know it’s got to stop.

Posted by: Stephen at February 24, 2008 9:19 PM
Comment #246340

Increasingly environmentalists around the globe are coming out against carbon trading. It’s just not the right way to solve the problem and creates more problems than it resolves.


It’s good to see environmentalists saying NO to carbon trading and demanding reduction in carbon emissions instead.

Posted by: Stephen at February 24, 2008 9:21 PM
Comment #246356

Radicalized, knee-jerk, brainless environmentalism is starting to be replaced with a more thoughtful environmentalism. Corn to ethanol is now being proven to be harmful to the environment. Carbon trading not really the answer. And so forth. In issue after issue, finally, some rational thought is appearing.

When the left can cut loose the junk science “end of the world” “man made global warming worse” propaganda they will have arrived.

The idea of fighting pollution without having the eminent collapse of humanity as a driving force to legitimize their effort scares them.

Posted by: Stephen at February 25, 2008 3:36 AM
Comment #246372

Stephen,

I prefer to look at it the other way around. Republicans are finally admitting that global warming is a problem and both parties are looking for solutions. Are they going to go about it in different ways? Of course, and the resulting compromises are the meat and potatoes of democracy. A middle ground approach, without the protectionism that Republicans will inevitably try to inject or the blind change-for-change’s-sake that the Left is prone to, is what will work.

L

Posted by: leatherankh at February 25, 2008 9:41 AM
Comment #246877

leatherankh,

I heard today on the environment show via NPR that the corn to ethanol bill really benefited, mostly, a lot of big companies. So there we go, a bill that panders to the knee-jerk environmental crowd, is bad for the environment, is bad for the poor, but really pays off big business who presses congress to give them….government hand outs.

I think you and I can settle this thing. I’ll send you an outlook meeting request for your calender we can sit down at lunch some day and solve global pollution. But we will need a high priest to spread the word of our new religion.

I suggest we call it “Global Green Change”. People seem to like the word green and change so that should make us winners. Lets insist on paying a carbon tax on our meal. I like expensive meals.

Posted by: Stephen at March 1, 2008 4:42 PM
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