'270 Minutes of Silence': Obama and Romney 'Climate Change Silence' Deafening, say Environmental Groups

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Common Dreams

'270 Minutes of Silence': Obama and Romney 'Climate Change Silence' Deafening, say Environmental Groups

350.org announces national tour to build climate movement

by
Common Dreams staff

Following three nationally televised debates—two presidential and one vice presidential—environmental groups and climate campaigners are voicing indignation that none of the major two parties candidates have yet mentioned the subject of global warming or climate change.

"Corporate polluters have bought the silence of our elected leaders, so it's time for us to take the lead."—Jamie Henn, 350.org

"Not one word," wrote Jamie Henn, from the climate action group 350.org, late Wednesday. "After 270 minutes of Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, no one has mentioned climate change or global warming."

He continued: "That's after the country broke 17,000 heat records this summer, drought smothered half of the nation's corn crop, and millions of acres of the American west went up in smoke."

Following the latest debate between Obama and Romney on Tuesday, Friends of the Earth spokeperson Erich Pica noted that for all the talk about energy policy, neither candidate broached the subject of how fossil fuels contributed to global warming. “Both candidates vied to restate their commitment to more dirty oil, gas and coal production while ignoring the contradiction between an ‘all of the above’ energy program and reducing emissions of climate disrupting gases.”

The young voter's climate action group Energy Action Coalition, under the banner "Break Climate Silence," has been campaigning for Obama and Romney to address the issue, and had this video produced with hopes of applying direct pressure to the campaigns:

"After two nationally televised debates," the group said in a statement, "President Obama and Mitt Romeny remain silent on the climate crisis. This week is a critical to push this issue so that it will be brought up in the final debate next Monday."

As a report in The Hill also noted, following Tuesday's debate, Chris Hayes of MSNBC, during the network’s post-debate analysis, compared the silence on climate change during the energy portion of the debate to "discussing smoking without discussing cancer."

And Elizabeth Kolbert, at The New Yorker, adds:

Obama deserves credit for at least mentioning the need to control energy demand—rather than just supply—something that Romney never even alluded to. The President should also be commended for stressing the need to develop alternative—which is to say carbon-free—energy sources, which he called key to “the jobs of the future.” But aside from the potential for job creation, the President could never quite bring himself to discuss why it might not be a good idea to burn every gallon—or cubic foot—of fossil fuels we could conceivably bring to the earth’s surface. In the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, climate change has become to the Obama Administration the Great Unmentionable, or, as the blogger Joe Romm has put it, The-Threat-That-Must-Not-Be Named.

The problem with the sort of energy debate we saw on Tuesday is not just that it’s fatuous, though it certainly is that. The problem is that you can’t solve a problem if you don’t even acknowledge it exists. The true challenge facing the next President is not how to bring down gas prices, which may or may not come down as a result of global trends. It’s how to move beyond the tired arguments of the past and act as if the future matters.

350.org's Henn announced his group's plan for a post-election 20-city national tour, beginning on Novemebr 7th and called the 'Do The Math' Tour, which will feature 350 co-founder Bill McKibben, author Naomi Klein, Desmond Tutu and others. The intention will be to educate on the dangers of climate change, the dominance of the fossil fuel industry on national energy policy, and to continue their efforts to build a mass climate movement in the US and internationally.

"The warning signs can’t be ignored, but our politicians have gone silent," he said. "The reason couldn’t be more obvious: the fossil fuel industry has spent over $150 million dollars on this election already, with more on the way. Corporate polluters have bought the silence of our elected leaders, so it's time for us to take the lead."

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