Climate Crisis Gets Just 10 Minutes at End of Presidential Debate
The first presidential debate seemed like it would end without a mention of the climate crisis when moderator Chris Wallace brought it up at the end of the night for a segment that lasted roughly 10 minutes.
The raucous event in Cleveland, Ohio was notable for President Donald's Trump's constant interruptions and bullying behavior as he spoke over the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, and Wallace. "Mr. Trump purposefully and repeatedly heckled and blurted over his rival and the moderator alike in a 90-minute melee that showcased the president's sense of urgency to upend a race," is how Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times summarized the night.
It was with that backdrop that Wallace said toward the end of the evening, "I'd like to talk about climate change." He then spoke about the forest fires in the West, turned toward Trump and noted that Trump said he doesn't believe that science knows if the climate crisis is triggering record-setting wildfires.
"Over your four years, you have pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord," Wallace said. "You have rolled back a number of Obama environmental records. What do you believe about the science of climate change, and what will you do over the next four years to confront it?"
"I want crystal clean water and air, we now have the lowest carbon … if you look at our numbers now we are doing phenomenally," Trump said in response. He then insisted that people are people are very happy he has started to withdraw the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord before turning the discussion to how states in the West need to improve their forest management.
That distraction from the question pushed Wallace to interrupt Trump. "What do you believe about the science of climate change, sir?" And then later in the segment, he asked, "Do you believe that human pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, contribute to the global warming of the planet?"
Trump said he did, to an extent, and then pivoted again to forest management.
As Trump spoke of the need to better manage the forests, Biden looked bemused, often laughing at the president's answers and shaking his head.
"But sir, if you believe in the science of climate change, why have you rolled back the Obama Clean Power Plan, which limited carbon emissions in power plants? Why have you relaxed fuel economy standards that are going to create more pollution from cars and trucks?" Wallace asked.
Trump dismissed that idea, insisting that more new cars will be bought which will make them safer.
When Biden had a chance to speak about his $2 trillion green energy plan, the former vice president spoke about his track record in bringing down the cost of renewable energy and said that coal-fired and oil-fired power plants were going extinct in America.
He also spoke of replacing the federal automotive fleet of vehicles with electrical vehicles. He mentioned a plan to weatherize millions of buildings and homes to reduce the need for both heating and air conditioning. He then insisted the country could reach net-zero emissions in 15 years while creating millions of jobs to overhaul the country's energy infrastructure.
When Trump tried to tie Biden to the yoke of the Green New Deal and erroneously labeled the price tag at $100 trillion, Biden insisted that his plan was not the Green New Deal, but his own.
Discussing the costs, Biden pointed to the steep price tag of ecological disaster.
"We spend billions of dollars now, billions of dollars, on floods, hurricanes, rising seas," he said. "We're in real trouble."
The pivot toward the climate crisis was a surprise. Before the debate, Wallace, a Fox News host, had said the debate would focus on a handful of topics: the Supreme Court, the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, election integrity and "race and violence in our cities," according to The Washington Post.
The omission of the climate crisis was striking, as activists worried that debate moderators would ignore the number one issue today to young people, just as it was in the 2016 debates, according to The Washington Post.
The omission also raised the ire of Democratic lawmakers. Prior to the debate, 40 Democratic senators sent a letter to the debate commission insisting upon questions that address the climate crisis.
"Without these topics, any discussion on the economy, racial justice, public health, national security, democracy, or infrastructure would be incomplete," said the letter, as The Washington Post reported.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
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Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.