This forum, "Global Warming and America's Energy Future," is sponsored by Grist, which has been doing an excellent job of laying out the candidates' (both parties) positions on energy and global warming.
Now, it really is notable how energy and global warming simply have not been on the radar scope in debates and other media interactions with the Presidential candidates.
The League of Conservation Voters put out a press release last week pointing out that Russert has had the presidential candidates on Meet the Press at least a dozen times and never used the words "global warming". And, well, it isn't just Russert. It was noted, at Yearly Kos, by a number of the candidates in their sessions after the Presidential Forum in August. (Richardson opened his comments noting this.) As long as reporters (and we) are not asking the questions, the issue won't rise to the top of the debate.
It is notable that, when it comes to debate issues, Global Warming and Energy just haven't been there in a serious way.
The League of Conservation Voters put out a press release in September pointing out that Russert has had the presidential candidates on Meet the Press at least a dozen times and never used the words "global warming".
It is stunning that the debate moderator found time to discuss a national smoking ban, the drinking age, Bible verses and baseball, yet not a word about the candidates' plans for avoiding the coming climate crisis.
Mr. Russert's lone feeble foray into energy policy was in the context of a proposal on gas taxes that no one takes seriously. And the half-hearted, "yes or no" follow-up on nuclear power did very little to enhance the voters' understanding of where the candidates stand on America's energy future.
And, well, it isn't just Russert. "ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, failed to bring up global warming in the Sunday morning debates he hosted in Iowa." Several candidates at Yearly Kos noted the absence of Global Warming in that Presidential forum during their breakout sessions or in other conversations. (Richardson opened his comments noting this.) As long as reporters (and we) are not asking the questions, the issue won't rise to the top of the debate.
Yet, Global Warming / Energy are very serious issue areas with very real near-term and long-term importance. This is something voters care about:
Ninety percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Independents and 60 percent of Republicans said immediate action was required to curb the warming of the atmosphere and deal with its effects on the global climate.
These are arenas of potential significant advantage to the Democratic Party and the Democratic nominee for President. It could have huge coattails. And, well, it is a critical issue for ensuring a progressive future. (Check out, if you wish, Green For All, for example, to get a sense of the opportunities.) Every one of the (serious) Democratic Party candidates has a serious policy re Energy / Global Warming now. All have committed to at least 80% reductions in CO2 / GreenHouse Gas emissions by 2050 (stronger than the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security bill, by the way, which targets about 63% -- far from adequate). Even so, this has not been part of the debate space.
This Presidential Forum could have an impact on this, could raise the level of discussion.
Players at the table
But, who are Grist's partners in this endeavor:
- League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: "To strengthen the capacity of the environmental movement to mobilize citizens as informed voters and advocates for sound environmental policies."
- Center for American Progress Action Fund: "The Center for American Progress Action Fund is a progressive think-tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We are creating a long-term, progressive vision for America—a vision that policy makers, thought-leaders and activists can use to "
- NRDC "Mobilizing America for Our Environment": "
- California League of Conservation Voters: "CLCV Education Fund strengthens California’s environmental movement and illuminates the direct connection between the environment, public health, and civic participation."
- Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy: "The Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy was created to ensure that renewable energy, sustainability, and conservation are top issues in the 2008 Presidential elections. It will bring together 2008 Presidential Candidates to generate discussion and foster innovation. "
Considering the event and its import
This looks to be a quite interesting and valuable several hours. A chance to turn the discussion in the Presidential campaign away from horse racing to substance. To move the discussion toward the arenas of greatest long term import for the nation and the Globe.
We could well likely be over $100/barrel oil on this day (we are basically there already) and Peak Oil is (finally) becoming ever more accepted as a reality helping to drive this situation, which is only likely to get worse.
Sadly, every day the news re Global Warming worsens with ever more general understanding of this as a reality that must be dealt with (Is it Time to Tell the Truth About Global Warming?), even if paths to dealing with it are not agreed on or fully understood.
This is a heads-up, therefore, of a coming event. And, an event we can influence. Now, our challenge, as we look forward to this event, is twofold.
- Get candidates to the forum: I have been told that only Senators Clinton and Edwards have confirmed acceptance to this event. Richardson, Obama, Dodd, Biden, Kucinivich ... where are you? And, well, this is a forum that is not just for Democratic Presidential candidates. Thus, feel free to contact Republican campaigns to ask them whether their (your?) candidate will be attending.
- Help develop questions: Those running the forum will read this discussion and responses to it. Have a question that you want asked of the candidates, throw it in the comments. And, then, pay attention the 17th. Your question might be posed to the next President of the United States.
Some of my thoughts as to questions:
* Is responding to Global Warming and our energy challenge an opportunity space or a cost? And, how will you explain this to voters?
* How will you work with other nations to develop a global response to our energy and global warming challenges?
* What do you see as the most significant barriers to effective action to address Global Warming? And, how would you overcome these?
* What will you do to foster an Energy Smart culture among Americans and across the Globe in the face of Peak Oil and Global Warming.
Please chime in with your questions and let's see who gets a question in re Energy/Global Warming to the next President of the United States.
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