It simply wouldn’t be an election year in the United States without the fictitious “war on coal” talking point rearing its ugly head. But something is different this year. In years past, the “war on coal” was admittedly fake, but today we really do have presidential candidates who have expressed interest in making the industry a thing of the past, and those quotes are being used as a catalyst to rally voters in coal-dependent states like West Virginia and Kentucky.
We are now officially through half of the United States Presidential election primary and caucus season, and there are currently 5 contenders left in the Republican and Democratic parties vying for their party’s respective nomination. Delegate math shows that Governor John Kasich has no chance to become the Republican nominee, so we’re left with four real candidates to examine.
The differences between the candidates of the two major parties could not be greater. On the Democratic side, there are two candidates who proudly embrace science and agree that action on climate issues is sorely needed. On the Republican side, both of the remaining candidates reject the scientific consensus and instead argue that climate change is nothing more than a series of unfortunate weather events.
It is important to remember that acceptance of climate science is not necessarily limited to one political party. Recent polls show that majorities of voters within both the Democratic and Republican parties (as well as Independent voters) accept that climate change is real and that human activity is a contributing factor. The discrepancy between the desires of voters and the views of the candidates can best be seen in the contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which will be described in detail later.
As for the candidates remaining in the race, only Republican frontrunner Donald Trump lacks a record to verify his statements on climate change. But judging on his statements alone, he will not be a friend to the environment if he secures the nomination and subsequently wins the White House.
Few issues have as much impact on the future as climate change. Sadly, the issue of climate change has taken a backseat to economic policy, divisive cultural issues, and the threat of terrorism. The main reason for this is the media coverage of these issues.
Shortly after the Paris climate agreement was reached, both the Republicans and Democrats held presidential debates in the US, and not once in either debate was the Paris accord or the overall issue of climate change addressed by the moderators of those debates. The media doesn’t believe that climate change is a marketable idea, so they focus on issues that are more divisive and sensationalized in order to attract more viewers.
Another factor driving this selective coverage is the mentality of our aging politicians.
Environmental victories are rare. Even with mounting scientific evidence that reckless human activities are endangering our future, politicians and corporations have continued to run roughshod over the planet, destroying the very home that sustains our lives.
For too long, environmentalists were seen as a small part of a political movement that focused on an issue that most Americans greeted with a yawn. After all, the most damning climate science has emerged at a time when the threat of global terrorism and economic downturns were grabbing all of the headlines.
But 2015 signaled a change for the environmental movement.
This article originally appeared on Climate Access.
Those who work on climate change were both chuffed and chagrined by its role in Canada’s federal election campaign, which peaked last week with the victory of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and defeat of Conservative incumbent Stephen Harper.
“The environment” — a catch-all concept that often encompasses concern about climate change — consistently ranked close to economy and healthcare on voters' list of top priorities. Oilsands and climate change issues took up nearly a quarter of the first leaders debate, commanding more than twice the airtime they did in 2011. Several media outlets ran editorials calling on all parties to take a strong stance on reducing GHG emissions or put a price on carbon.
To quote professor and commentator George Hoberg, “energy and environmental issues have become central to Canadian electoral politics.”
Despite all of this, climate change didn’t have a significant impact on the election’s outcome. Fundamentally this was a campaign about values where action on global warming was bundled into a broader set of aspirations and ideas that Canadians said yes to on October 19th.
At a shale industry conference in Philadelphia, former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani offered up advice to drilling companies struggling with an oil price collapse and increasing public awareness of the damage that fracking can do to air, water, the climate and the economy.
“And you do face a public relations problem,” Giuiliani told the gathered shale executives. “And the public relations problem that you face is that a lot of people dismiss the whole shale revolution from a standpoint of being afraid of it.”
“They're irrationally afraid of it,” he said. “But they're afraid.”
U.S. Senator and Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio is, rightfully, taking a lot of criticism for his statement during the 2nd Republican debate that “America is not a planet.” This is actually the only factual statement that Rubio made about climate change during the debate, but the actual point that he was trying to make was that America cannot be the only country acting on climate change if we expect to fix the problem.
What Rubio and so many other politicians claim to want is a broad, global coalition of countries working together to address the threats of climate change. But that’s just a campaign talking point. The truth is that Republican candidates do not want to see the U.S. taking any role in reducing our carbon emissions, and their actions in Washington prove it.
Well, The Onion beat me to the punch on this with Frustrated Republicans Argue Pope Should Leave Science To Scientists Who Deny Climate Change, but here goes anyway.
Rick Santorum has some advice for Pope Francis: When it comes to climate change, leave it to the scientists. It's very interesting that Santorum feels that scientists should be deciding whether or not we should take action on climate change, seeing as how he and his party refuse to believe the scientists that are telling us we need to be proactive about climate change.
A week after their electoral victories in the 2014 midterms, Senate Republicans have already set their sights on one of their all-time favorite targets: the Environmental Protection Agency.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who will become the Senate majority leader when the 2015 Congress convenes, announced last week that one of his main goals was to “rein in” the EPA. One of the main items that McConnell has problems with is the agency’s power plant emissions standards that would cut down on the amount of allowable air pollution from coal-fired power plants.
McConnell said that he feels a “deep responsibility” to stop these power plant rules.
McConnell ran his campaign on an anti-environment, pro-coal platform, playing up Kentucky’s fears that the EPA’s policies would kill jobs in the coal-dependent state. McConnell’s challenger, Democratic candidate Alison Grimes, could have easily challenged those talking points, but failed to do so.
Nevertheless, the facts are there, and the coal industry has had a devastating effect on Kentucky, as I previously reported:
Before members of Congress departed Washington, D.C. for their month-long August recess, senators attempted one final vote on a resolution that did nothing more than state that the Senate accepts the science on climate change. Noted science-denying Republican James Inhofe blocked the resolution, which required a unanimous vote by Senators in order to pass.
Thus, the resolution failed, but not before Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse issued a stirring rebuttal to Inhofe’s claims of climate change being a hoax:
While a few people like Senator Whitehouse are fighting the good fight from inside the system itself, they still need help from the outside in order to hold climate change deniers and environmental polluters accountable. The NRDC Action Fund has stepped in to back them up this summer.
While members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are out campaigning during their recess, the NRDC Action Fund has launched a “Dirty Denier$” campaign that will feature a different member of Congress every day.