Just hours before Republican presidential candidates gear up for their latest televised debate, a campaign led by kids are demanding they talk about an issue they say has so far gotten the short shrift: climate change.
"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on the issues of science and technology policy, health and medicine, and the environment," the campaign, organized by ScienceDebate.org, stated in a press release earlier this week.
A recent national poll conducted by ScienceDebate.org and medical research advocacy group Research!America found that 87 percent of likely voters think the presidential candidates should be "well versed on science issues."
According to Shawn Otto, chair of ScienceDebate.org, those issues include, among others:
- Do you support recent efforts to prosecute energy companies for funding denial of climate science?
- What steps will you take to stop pollinator die-offs?
- What will you do to slow the sixth mass extinction?
- How should we balance privacy with freedom and security on the Internet?
- Should we deploy artificially intelligent robots in war zones?
As the campaign's website explains, "We think the candidates for president should be debating science, tech, health and environmental issues on TV, so that voters know where they stand."
Watch ScienceDebate.org's youthful ad below:
Last week, a separate poll by Monmouth University found that a majority of Americans, across all political parties, believe in climate change and want the government to take action on it. Meanwhile, a USA Today/Rock the Vote survey released Monday found that "[p]eople between ages 18 and 34 overwhelmingly (80 percent) favor a rapid transition to clean or renewable energy by 2030 and by a ratio of more than 2-1 say the government should invest in more public transportation."
The year's first Republican debate will air Thursday night. Previous GOP debates have barely touched on the issue of climate change.
While it remains to be seen what questions moderators are preparing, Politico expects that the candidates are less likely to tackle scientific policy and more likely to be "bracing themselves for a circular firing squad" as they vie for frontrunner status.
Politico's Alex Isenstadt writes:
Fox Business’s November debate was a wonkfest — a policy-packed two-hour program full of questions about economic matters and foreign affairs.
Those who’ve spoken with the network about its plans say they’re expecting much the same this time around. (One campaign adviser joked that reporters might even be bored.)
The next Democratic debate is scheduled for January 17. Previous go-rounds have included a focus on climate change, though the debates themselves earned low viewership.