This guest post comes from Professor Scott Mandia. Professor Mandia addresses the significant discussion of climate change issues driven by moderator Jim Lehrer’s probing questions during the first 2012 Presidential debate.
“The first role of the federal government is to keep the American people safe.” President Barack Obama
“We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people, and that means a military second to none,” he said. “I do not believe in cutting our military. I believe in maintaining the strength of America’s military.” Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney
Based on these two comments from the debate last night, one would conclude that President Obama would never avoid talking about a serious national security issue and that Mitt Romney respects the opinion of our military leaders. And, being a Republican, one might also assume Romney respects the opinions of our financial experts.
WRONG, and WRONG, and WRONG.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, made this point quite clearly in his recent statement:
Climate change is one of the most serious health threats facing our nation. Yet few Americans are aware of the very real consequences of climate change on the health of our communities, our families and our children.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, made this point even more bluntly in stating:
We need to… convince the world that humanity really is the most important species endangered by climate change.
In a 2010 statement, 33 of the top generals and admirals in the United States stated:
Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place. It’s threatening America’s security. The Pentagon and security leaders of both parties consider climate disruption to be a “threat multiplier” – it exacerbates existing problems by decreasing stability, increasing conflict, and incubating the socioeconomic conditions that foster terrorist recruitment. The State Department, the National Intelligence Council and the CIA all agree, and all are planning for future climate-based threats. America’s billion-dollar-a-day dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes.
A 2010 statement from 268 investors representing assets of more than US$15 trillion:
Several leading studies indicate that the systemic shocks to regional and global economies from climate change will be substantial and will worsen the longer world governments wait to take sufficient policy action.
So clearly our health, military, and financial experts agree that human-caused climate change poses a very real threat to our health, safety, and financial security.
But here is what each candidate said about climate change:
Yep. Nothing at all.
PBS does not escape criticism either. More than 160,000 requests (including a letter from me) were sent to PBS asking them to include a climate change question but none were asked.
Shame on all of you.