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Put Climate Change Into The Presidential Campaign

October 18th, 2012 · 2 Comments

Earlier this evening, a rather troubling piece came to my attention. Keeping Climate Change Out of the Presidential Campaign wrong-headedly celebrates that the Presidential political campaign has not included discussion of climate change issues.

Consider …

And, yet, we are told that those concerned about climate change should be celebrating the near silence amid the election campaign on climate change?

Climate activists are aghast that climate change did not make it into either of the first two presidential debates. Prior to the first debate, environmental organizations reportedly delivered a petition to moderator Jim Lehrer to bring climate change up for discussion. They were ignored. For supporters, being ignored was probably the best thing that could have happened in support of the politics of climate change.

Simply put, this Stanford Social Innovation Review piece is wrong-headed in its celebration of climate silence on multiple levels.

In short, here is a reasonable summary of its key points:

  1. Shhhh … let’s not talk about what legitimately could be called the most serious issue on the planet in the campaign for the most important political position on the planet … wouldn’t want to have serious issues being discussed seriously.
  2. Shut up you ignorant idiots who dare criticize the D political machine because the Obama campaign staff and political professionals know better (without question) everything.
  3. That Mitt Romney can lie, heavily, on clean energy program funding and that the President didn’t stand up to Romney’s falsehoods proves that clean energy is a losing issue to discuss.
  4. Those idiotic climate activists think everything should be about “climate science” and don’t have any clue or actual history of messaging/otherwise making the connection from climate awarenewss to the value of solutions (clean energy and otherwise).
  5. Etc …

The author seems utterly divorced in his thinking from the polling and discussion of climate issues in the United States.

“The debate is no longer about whether climate change is happening or not, nor whether it is human influenced or not.”

What planet are we living on? Of course, these should not be debated issues in a sane world but we live in a political environment with Fox News and other climate disinformation channels fostering serious questioning of these very questions among sizable portions of the public (including a large share of the Republican base).  The post asserts that the debate should truly be about how we should take action, not about the science. Yes. YES. In a sane world  those questions are where the debate and discussion should be, but one can’t not talk about the science and leap blindly to those discussions in the American political scene.

The post also attacks a range of analytical work (based on polls and focus groups) that show that smart discussion of climate issues will serve the Obama-Biden (and other climate sane politicians’) campaign’s interests. (See here (pdf), here, here, and …)  We are told that, instead, we should look to “peer-reviewed” work.  However, what was the linked “peer reviewed” study? “Promoting pro-environmental action in climate change deniers”. The attacked, supposedly shallow, polling by “activist” organizations didn’t look at how to convince “deniers” but to what is a winning set of political environments in 2012 America.  This work — a variety of polls, done by a variety of organizations, with a variety of question strategies — clearly is showing that activist Democrats are motivated to ‘get out the vote and get out and vote’ with serious discussion of climate issues (and how mitigation action will payoff); that true independents align with Democratic voters when it comes to these issues and respond positively; and that global warming denier voters already supporting Romney and other Republicans aren’t any more motivated to vote against Obama than they already are.

E.g., the article gets it fundamentally wrong. In fact, discussing climate change seriously (including value streams from mitigation) is a path that would enhance President Obama’s chance of being reelected …

NOTE: The SSIR comment protection system prevented this material from being posted as a comment … thus, a post of its own.

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Tags: 2012 Presidential Election

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 KC Golden // Oct 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Echoing #3: Our “friends” in public office are creating a vicious circle for themselves. They approach this issue from their heels. They talk like losers, then they lose, then they go: “it’s a losing issue”. The only way they know to get out of that circle is to shut up. You can kind of see Obama wading tentatively out in the water (the most Axelod would tolerate), then getting his ass kicked (vindicating Axelrod), then retreating …. instead of fighting to win!

  • 2 The power of translation: @BarackObama’s #climate rage emerging // Apr 26, 2015 at 8:19 am

    […] expressed strong concern over “climate silence“. From inadequate media coverage, to absence in the 2012 Presidential debates, to gaps in OFA calls for action, to commentators failures to associate climate when discussing […]