Quantcast

Climate Crisis Only Gets 7 Minutes of Airtime at First Dem Debate

Politics
A Greenpeace rally to call for a presidential climate debate, in front of the DNC headquarters in Washington, DC on June 12. Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

Confronting the climate crisis is the No. 1 issue for 96 percent of Democratic voters, but it clocked only around seven minutes of airtime at the first Democratic Presidential debate Wednesday, Vox reported.


The small amount of time spent on climate change, and the fact that the first climate-centered questions came an hour and 22 minutes into the debate itself, as the Huffington Post reported, emphasized the need for a debate exclusively dedicated to the issue, something the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has so far refused.

"It's absurd to host a debate in Miami — a city where millions of people could lose their homes due to sea level rise that's also only 20 miles from the Everglades where massive fires are out of control — and spend only a few minutes on the climate crisis," Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash said in a post-debate statement. "Only four candidates had the opportunity to discuss it at all. This is downright irresponsible and shameful."

The group has been camping out in front of DNC headquarters since Tuesday to demand a climate debate. Climate-focused candidate Washington Governor Jay Inslee also repeated his call for a debate centered on the issue.

"It is clear that this deserves more debate and a much more intensive focus," Inslee told the Huffington Post. "And we do need a separate debate."

So what did the candidates get a chance to say about the issue?

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren mentioned it in her opening remarks, as the Huffington Post reported, when she said that the economy was "doing great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere, just not for the rest of us who are watching climate change bear down upon us."

She also answered an economy-focused question by mentioning a "worldwide need for green technology," according to The New Republic.

Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard mentioned the importance of environmental protection, and Inslee answered a jobs question with his $9 trillion plan to cut most emissions by 2030, as the Huffington Post reported.

"The next thing I'll do is put people to work in the jobs of the present and the future," Inslee said. "Donald Trump is simply wrong. He says wind turbines cause cancer. We know they cause jobs."

The first actual question on the issue came three-quarters into the debate from moderator Rachel Maddow and focused on the debate's host city of Miami.

"We are here in Miami experiencing serious flooding on sunny days as a result of sea level rise and parts of Miami Beach and the Keys could be underwater in our lifetimes. Does your plan save Miami?" Maddow asked Inslee, as Vox reported.

Inslee responded with his plan to end the Senate filibuster so that climate legislation could actually pass the chamber.

Former Texas Representative Beto O'Rourke spoke about how to balance fighting climate change with respecting people's desire not to be ordered around by the government.

"You have to bring everybody into the challenges we face," he said, according to Vox. "That's why we are traveling everywhere, listening to everyone."

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was asked who should provide funds for people whose homes are impacted by extreme weather events, but Castro objected to the question's framing, arguing that the focus should be on rebuilding resilient communities.

Ohio Representative Tim Ryan was asked how to fund climate policy if a carbon tax was not politically possible, and emphasized the importance of economic growth.

Four candidates — O'Rourke, Booker, Warren and Castro — later listed climate change as the greatest geopolitical threat faced by the U.S., the Huffington Post reported.

Overall, the issue got more focus than it had in the entire 2016 debate cycle between Trump and Hilary Clinton, but not enough time to really compare the candidates' stances, Vox concluded.

Wednesday's debate featured 10 of more than 20 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, CNN reported. A second slate of candidates, including overall front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, will face off Thursday.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less