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Amid Demand for Climate Focus, Burning Everglades Offer Fiery Backdrop to First Democratic Primary Debate

"Because subtlety is dead."

"A climate debate," said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, "is our chance to find out who has what it takes to deliver the visionary promise of the Green New Deal and confront the fossil fuel executives standing in the way of progress." (Photo: WPLG/CNN Newsourc/Screenshot)

Offering an ominous backdrop to the first debates of the Democratic Party primary scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Miami, a wildfire is currently ripping through the Florida everglades—a fiery reminder that the climate crisis is on the minds of many progressive-minded voters even as the party leadership continues its refusal to sponsor a debate focused solely on the planetary emergency.

"We will come together in living rooms, classrooms and halls around the country by the thousands to unleash a social media storm and relentlessly demand the solutions we need." —Sunrise MovementAs Zoya Teirstein, acknowledging the interplay between the wildfires and the first debate of the Democratic primary, wrote for Grist on Monday:

The candidates will engage in what is sure to be a heated conversation about issues ranging from gun control to abortion rights. As all eyes turn to Miami, another fiery event is developing nearby.

Seventeen thousand acres and counting of public lands are aflame in the Florida Everglades, thanks to a brush fire sparked by an errant lightning bolt on Sunday night. Smoke from the fire has floated over the cities of Coral Springs and Parkland, prompting officials to send out advisories warning residents to stay inside.

Courtesy of Earther senior reported Brian L. Kahn, this is what some of that fire looks like:

On Tuesday, as Common Dreams reported, a coalition of progressive advocacy groups and leading environmentalists published an open letter urging Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez to reverse his decision and devote at least one night to the planetary emergency.

"A climate debate," said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, "is our chance to find out who has what it takes to deliver the visionary promise of the Green New Deal and confront the fossil fuel executives standing in the way of progress."

The Sunrise Movement, meanwhile, which has been leading the charge for the Democrats to host a climate debate, announced Tuesday that while the push has already increased pressure on candidates to address the crisis, so much more is needed.

As part of its ongoing strategy to force the issue, the group will hold debate watching parties nationwide on Thursday alongside plans to flood social media with climate questions for the candidates.

"We will come together in living rooms, classrooms and halls around the country by the thousands to unleash a social media storm and relentlessly demand the solutions we need," the group said.

Find a watch party near you here, or register to create your own here.

In a strategy message to Sunrise members sent on Monday, executive director Varshini Prakash said that the scale of the climate crisis demands an unprecedented response.

"We need massive mobilization," Prakash wrote, "and disruption in every corner of the country unlike anything we've seen in our lifetimes: millions of people walking out of school, shutting down government offices, and taking to the streets to tell our leaders: this is a crisis, our lives are on the line, it’s time you start acting like it."

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