Groups urge presidential candidates to address climate changeThousands have signed petition calling on Obama, Romney to say how they will address rapid planetary warming
WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to a recent poll, more than 60 percent of undecided voters list global warming as one of the most important issues to them, and yet, in the course of debates involving both the presidential and vice presidential candidates, there has been no serious conversation about climate change. Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, and Forecast the Facts are calling on President Obama and Governor Romney to renounce the climate silence and talk directly and honestly to the American public tonight about what they will do to stop catastrophic climate change.
The groups are working to break the silence by the two leading presidential candidates on climate change. To date, they have collected 25,000 signatures on a petition*calling on the candidates to tell Americans how they plan to address the climate crisis.
Despite what NASA climatologist James Hansen recently called a “planetary emergency,” climate change has largely fallen off the political agenda of both President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, and thus far has earned only a passing reference in the presidential election discourse. Tonight’s town hall debate offers an opportunity to put climate change back on the map, the groups said.
The debate will include questions — submitted in advance — selected from 80 undecided voters. Moderator Candy Crowley of CNN will decide which people to call on, determining which issues get raised on the national stage.
If those chosen for the town hall debate serve as a proxy for the American people, then climate change will be among the topics submitted by participants.
And last week, Google, in collaboration with the Commission on Presidential Debates, hosted an online page called “Your Questions for the Candidates.” Had CNN decided to use the top questions, as suggested by the debate commission, climate change would have been first in the queue. The number one question, by over a 50 percent margin, was “What actions will you take to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?” The second and third questions also centered around how the candidates would tackle climate change. Indeed: the top 15 questions by the number of votes received featured climate change, moving past fossil fuels, or protecting clean air and water.
Climate denial is hard to sustain in the face of the extreme weather events that have affected the country. June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the U.S., which contributed to droughts that affected almost 61 percent of the lower 48 states this summer. And new government data show that the Arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate. According to oceanographer Wieslaw Maslowski with the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, if the current trend continues, we will not have sea ice in the Arctic summer by the end of this decade.
“The urgency warrants a response,” said Allison Fisher, director of outreach for Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “It’s unbelievable that the leading presidential candidates are ignoring a phenomenon that jeopardizes the planet. It is heartening that grassroots demand for action on climate change is growing despite the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to mislead the public about the existence of the problem.”
“Our presidential candidates have been unwilling or unable to admit the essential facts of climate change: we’re already feeling the impacts, and we must end our use of fossil fuels to avoid calamity,” added Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts. “We need President Obama and Governor Romney to connect the dots, do the math, and present a plan to the American people to address the climate crisis.”
“‘All of the above’ is not an energy policy or a climate policy – it’s a highway to hell,” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth Action. “It’s a road to deeper droughts, fiercer fires, messier spills and dirtier air. For the sake of our future, it’s time for President Obama and Governor Romney to tell us what they will do to curb climate change — not what they will do to make it worse.”
Allison Fisher (202) 454-5176
Erich Pica (240) 432-3470
Blair Fitzgibbon (202)-503-6141