Another debate, same scenario. At least the ninety minutes generated two Twitter hashtags that made me laugh (#TrumpBookReport and #ImANastyWoman).
That was the extent of the night’s humor. What wasn’t funny? The fact that in three debates, not once was the environment or climate change addressed.
It could have been included in the guise of a foreign affairs question like, “If elected, will you support America’s commitment to the Paris Accords?” Perhaps under the guise of an immigration and refugee query such as, “Candidates, extreme drought in Syria has added to the instability in the Middle East. Military experts have warned that global warming will be a key factor in escalating terrorism and large populations of migrants. What are your plans for addressing this situation?”
Maybe the topic was avoided because Donald Trump is an avowed climate denier who wants to abolish the “totalitarian” EPA. Under Trump’s short-form theories category, he has put forth that global warming is a nefarious scheme the Chinese are pushing “in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
So where exactly does each Presidential contender stand?
Trump has no legislative record, but his Tweets and interviews have provided ample insight into his frame of mind.
Going back to 2014, Trump defined climate change as an animal excrement expletive. On February 14, 2015, Trump tweeted, “Record low temperatures and massive amounts of snow. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING?” Four months later, in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump stated, “When I hear Obama saying that climate change is the number one problem it is just madness.”
Trump has announced, “The Pope is wrong on climate change,” and maintained that you can’t get hurt by extreme weather.” (Tell that to the people of Haiti.) Moreover, he has mocked concern about climate disruption with sarcastic Tweets, including, “Man we could use a big fat dose of global warming” — in response to an October cold snap.
Clearly, Trump doesn’t understand the connection between climate change and national security. Furthermore, as a crack businessman, he could learn something from the insurance industry. They have seen the writing on the wall, and have crunched the numbers on escalating costs due to hurricanes, floods, and rising sea levels.
Perhaps most ominous is the message he delivered in March of this year to the North Dakota Petroleum Council. Trump boasted that within his first hundred days in office he would “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”
The Trump website does not have an environmental vertical, but his energy page looks like it was written by the fossil fuel industry. There is a push to “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.”
Trump advocates making federal lands available to leasing, lifting the ban on coal leasing, and “opening shale deposits.”
Conversely, a look at Clinton’s website shows climate change featured in four verticals: Environment, Poverty, Protecting Animals and Wildlife, and Rural Communities. Her paradigm is summed up in a November 2015 quote:
“I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.”
Making a point of presenting herself as a the polar opposite of Trump on this topic, Clinton has frequently stated, “We can’t afford a President who ignores the science.”
Clinton’s goals are succinctly laid out. Solar power capacity is at the top of her list. She wants to move the nation to an electrical grid powered by renewable sources. Clinton has pledged to defend and extend the Clean Power Plan; address the concern of methane leaks and emissions; cut tax subsidies to oil and gas companies.
Clinton clearly recognizes the need to address the lack of environmental justice impacting communities of color and low-income communities — specifically evidenced by the ongoing predominance of asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Along with her acknowledgement of the threat that climate change poses to national security and world affairs, Clinton has emphasized her intention to make the battle against climate change an intrinsic part of her foreign policy.
Referencing her concern for the next generation, Clinton said, “I’m just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain.” Pointing to her confidence in Americans to rise to the occasion she said, “We don’t hide from change. We harness it.”
On Election Day, it’s up to citizens to vote for candidates, at all levels, who will actively defend the future of our planet.