They’re finally over.
No part of this election season has been quiet, but October’s debates brought a new level of chaos and controversy – much of which we could’ve done without. So we’re left with a few key takeaways, now less than three weeks til Election Day (Hallelujah! Thank god!):
- Donald Trump is, at the very least, guilty of sexual harassment
- Hillary Clinton something something open borders something
- 2016 has been a nightmare
Of course, come November 9th, none of that will mean much (unless you want to talk Trump media). But the Opinion editors at the Times did notice what was missing:
“The failure to ask about climate change is a failure of journalism. I thought that the debate moderators had some very fine moments over the last few weeks, calmly drawing out the candidates. But the lack of a single question on the world’s biggest problem was a grievous error.”
Truthfully, I didn’t watch the whole debate. I had the Youtube livestream open for twenty minutes or so, enough to hear “You’re the puppet!” and “we have some bad hombres here.” But this email the next morning stuck with me.
On Friday, a few friends and I spent the day climbing Mt. Whitney, standing at 14,505′ and the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. I’m lucky to have visited the Eastern Sierras all my life, and this weekend marked a bit of a milestone in light of that. But I don’t have to have studied environmental science to tell you the region is suffering. NASA satellite images show just how drastically the Sierra snowpack has shrunk since just 2010. A report from the Endangered Species Coalition identified it as one of ten places in America where biodiversity is most affected by climate change. Last year’s El Nino helped, but California is far from recovering from this drought.
So I’m not an expert in greenhouse emissions, solar and wind energy or oil reserves. But I do know how much I owe the outdoors, and how different I’d be without these experiences in nature. America’s public lands especially have given me invaluable friends and memories, and their preservation is part of my hope for this country’s future.
But with both candidates neck-deep in mud from apparently more “urgent” problems, the networks probably figured no one needed to hear about them spar over climate change. Surely, with international terror threats and the future of our healthcare at stake, maybe that’s not wrong. But the distractions from both campaigns stifling even these issues significantly diminished the weight of these debates, leaving no room for a topic so all-encompassing and consequential that it floats high above most of our heads.
So, for your own information:
Clinton’s climate change plan is filed under “Environment” on hillaryclinton.com, sharing the umbrella with “Poverty,” “Protecting animals and wildlife,” and “Rural communities.” And like many of the other policy plans on her website, Clinton’s included a laundry list of proposals ranging from investments in clean energy infrastructure to promoting conservation. Most linked to even wonkier briefing papers, like this one on responsible energy production. Of course, she even has a bullet on protecting coal communities.
Trump has a single section titled “Energy” on https://www.donaldjtrump.com/. Half of it is actually dedicated to how he contrasts with Clinton and Obama, including how she’ll “escalate the war on American energy” and will “‘defend and build on’ the Obama Administration’s anti-coal regulations.” His page includes no mention of “climate change,” “global warming,” “renewable,” “clean energy,” “green,” “greenhouse gas”…et cetera. What his “America First Energy Plan” does include is independence from the “OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests,” drilling on federal lands, and “unleashing” untapped oil, natural gas and the “hundreds of years” of clean coal reserves at our disposal.
Any one of my environmental studies friends could tell you there’s no such thing as “clean coal.”
So if climate change and the environment are your top priorities, like they are for so many of my friends, don’t look at the debates and grumble that neither candidate shares your urgency. If the outdoors are as important to you as they are to me, the choice should be clear.