Though Barack Obama and Mitt Romney present opposing stances on most issues, they both agree that the planet is warming and humans are at least partly responsible. But you wouldn't know that from the presidential debates, where the words "climate change" weren't uttered by either candidate. Even when the conversation veered toward energy issues, including oil drilling, renewable energy development and gas prices, Romney and Obama neatly avoided discussing climate change.
So why? In an era of record temperatures, drought and Arctic ice melt, why would Obama and Romney avoid the climate issue like Kryptonite?
At the New York Times, John Broder writes that the answer is multi-pronged:
Any serious effort to address climate change will require a transformation of the nation’s system for producing and consuming energy and will, at least in the medium term, mean higher prices for fuel and electricity. Powerful incumbent industries — coal, oil, utilities — are threatened by such changes and have mounted a well-financed long-term campaign to sow doubt about climate change. The Koch brothers and others in the oil industry have underwritten advertising campaigns and grass-roots efforts to support like-minded candidates. And the Republican Party has essentially declared climate change a nonproblem.
Meanwhile, environmental groups are banding together to bring climate change to the forefront of the presidential race. Friends of the Earth Action and Forecast the Facts launched climatesilence.org as a way to do just that.
"Although Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sprinkle their speeches with mentions of energy and climate, they have remained stubbornly silent on the immediate and profound task of phasing out a carbon-based economy," the website says. "Their failure to connect the dots and do the math imperils our nation and prevents the development of a national and global plan to respond to the most urgent challenge of our era."
Read Broder's article here.
Photo: Black smoke rises from the ConocoPhillips oil refinery in Los Angeles. (Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg)