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Democratic Candidates Spent 13 Minutes on Climate Change in Second Presidential Debate

Politics
NPR / YouTube screenshot

Democratic presidential candidates spent 13 minutes on climate change in the second presidential debate Wednesday evening in Detroit — one more minute than the 12 spent on Tuesday evening, according to a Washington Post tally.



Washington governor Jay Inslee, whose campaign has centered around the issue, kicked off the discussion by centering climate change as "all the issues that we Democrats care about. It is health. It is national security. It is our economy." Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) joined Inslee in targeting former Vice President Joe Biden's plan to continue fossil fuel use and Booker calling out Biden's brag that he will rejoin the Paris agreement. "Nobody should get applause for rejoining the Paris climate accords," Booker said. "That is kindergarten." As Robinson Meyer writes in The Atlantic, tech mogul Andrew Yang's argument that a universal basic income is the best way to mitigate climate impacts "is not a good response to losing your house to higher sea levels."

As reported by The Atlantic:

Climate change is a sprawling, scary, cinematic problem, and its remedies involve the less-than-inspiring technical undergirding of society: stormwater management, the electrical grid, dirt. And dirt management will never be as engrossing as, say, Medicare for All. The party may also benefit, in a sort of shallow but undeniable way, from its monopoly on climate concern. Since any Democrat would do more to fight climate change than the current president, what's the point of airing dirty laundry about it in public?
"We have all put out highly similar visions on climate," South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said on Tuesday night. "We will deal with climate if and only if we win the presidency."

For a deeper dive:

Washington Post, Mother Jones, Vox, KOMO, The Atlantic, NBC, The Week. Commentary: The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer analysis, CNN, Jay Inslee op-ed)

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.