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 Yesterday's report from US researchers that climate change threatens diversity of species in the tropics was a reminder that climate change doesn't seem to have surfaced as a major issue in this election. Never a topic that Bush seemed keen to wrestle with, it nevertheless might have been something that the candidates ought to have debated.

But so far, we seem to have heard very little. Is that because the candidates agree or because they don't care? Or is it the media who are reporting little else than the personal sparring?


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valknott wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
There are more pressing problems that need immediate attention. The economy is collapsing right in front of our eyes. People are losing their retirements and their jobs. We are embroiled in bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. People are dying because they cannot afford health care or are denied care. It's difficult to worry about the environment when you can't get by day to day, and the politicians are tuned into that. Besides, the very people who are contributing large sums of money to the campaigns are those who stand to lose if the government actually decides to do something about it.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 11th, 2008 10:20 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - valknott - Oct. 11th, 2008 11:48 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - tyskkvinna - Oct. 11th, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - thegin - Oct. 15th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC) Expand
adamwolf wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 10:09 am (UTC)
I agree that the economical crisis eclipses almost everything. Also, people don't want to hear they're going to have to make do with less in the future. They don't want to buy a smaller car to save the polar bear, or eat less tuna to protect some weird-snouted dolphin.
iber wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 10:46 am (UTC)
Environmental politics has been rather ignored by Bush, let alone the current candidates. I hear all this noise about (oil) energy dependence from the Middle East (which I have two professor cracking up on since apparently we get less than 10% oil for the region to begin with). I hear next to nothing on clean/environmentally-friendly energy topics besides the obvious talking points.

Bush in particular has ignored environmental politics in general for most of his 8 years in office. If my memory serves right, he is legally mandated to release a report on a yearly basis on the state of the environment in the US(/World?)... although he never released a single report on that issue until 2006 I believe, and I'm not sure on the following two years either.

The Media is a strange area. To quote Al Gore's An Inconvenient Question, a look a large cross-section of articles on Climate Change as existing is 100% within the scientific community, while in a similar cross-section on the major medias shifts that down to 57% I think. Now, I know that's not the best source on the matter, but the point still stands. The Media largely ignores anything that isn't newsworthy. If it's not a human interest piece, a scandal (political, sex, etc), weird, or recently breaking; they honestly don't care too much. Even further, you're going to get those who actually believe in its existence or those who don't. SNL poked fun at that with the Hilary/Palin address earlier in September. Where we are in this election cycle, sparring is rapidly becoming only what really counts.

Unless like the sudden change in the economy happens on some environmental happens and needs to be addressed like the economy has been, it's probably going to be largely ignored.
heavenly_action wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 11:19 am (UTC)
I think conservative culture has very effectively coined those that care about the environment extremists. Terms such as eco terrorists and tree huggers still get thrown around. Democratic candidates especially are careful not to be painted as environmental candidates so that they do not lose their appeal to independents and centrists.
(no subject) - ex_londonso - Oct. 11th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC) Expand
tiny_josser wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think right now the candidates are talking about what needs to be talked about. The economic crisis. I couldn't care less about climate change at the moment.
holy_outlaw wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
I agree.With our economy going into the tank,I could care less about the climate right now.

Not that I bought into the Gore scam anyway.
manatees wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
The thing is, the economy will recover. If we don't take action now (and I mean now), our planet never will. I understand that people are very worried about losing their jobs, savings etc but it isn't as if there has never ever been an economic crisis before.
(no subject) - holy_outlaw - Oct. 12th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - theonides - Oct. 12th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - holy_outlaw - Oct. 12th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - acidosaur - Oct. 15th, 2008 09:15 am (UTC) Expand
polarisdib wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
The way McCain and Obama speak of it in debates, climate change is directly connected to the energy issue, and so the focus and goals of both candidates are mediated through the discussions of what to do about alternative energy. This is not too bad an approach to take, as many people (voters) still exist who believe that "climate change" is just some liberal political scare tactic to undermine free markets (through years upon years of careful spin; never mind that free markets have been much more damaged by the oblivious nature of the Bush administration) and it translates "climate change" into words that directly affect people's spending.

The frustrating thing about environmental issues is that they're very economically feasible, it's just that decades of propaganda by logging and oil companies plus the bitchiness of factories that have had to clean up has sealed a public disregard for "tree-hugging hippy socialism". That's all good and well until, you know, we can't breathe, water is poisonous, and half our landmass is submerged in bigger seas. I guess we'll see how people feel then.

Oh, and really, very few people care about the thousands of species facing extinction because few of the species are as cute as polar bears.

manatees wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
This. Better to care now and lose an election than to care later and face wars over food and water, cities being submerged by rising seas and people losing their homes to floods and other disasters on a global scale. Obviously people are facing losing their homes now as well, but at least they'll have somewhere to go - people living on, say, the mudflats of Bangladesh will not.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 11th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - polarisdib - Oct. 11th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 11th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
acidosaur wrote:
Oct. 15th, 2008 09:21 am (UTC)
Re: Why Climate Change Isn't a Greater Topic of Discussion
I wanted to say something like this but this is far more succint and eloquent than I could have managed. Well said.
purplehamsa wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
Climate change is an immenent issue, that has implications in foreign policy (like our abstinence from the Kyoto treaty), Security (our relationship to increasingly hostile energy supplying countries--Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuala, Russia. . .) and Domestic issues (increases in the frequency and severity of hurricanes, loss of polar ice, which effects native Alaskans as all polar inhabitants and animals, rising sea levels).

Basically, it is only ignorance that frames Climate change as irrelevant during this time of crisis in the US. Making a shift to dealing with these very real immenent threats can actually help see us through this time. Obama speaks of job creation in a new alternative energy economy. Even McCain wants to shift more energy production to the US, but he misses the point on averting future disaster (which has already begun). There is a significant movement of bipartisan support to dealing with climate change (wecansolveit.org). Both candidates have the opportunity to integrate this issue into an overall plan for changing of the direction of the American Economy. In my opinion, neither have made enough efforts in this area, but Obama has the advantage. Both campaigns should be consulting Gore about Climate change in the way that both have consulted Warren Buffet on the economy. It only makes sense.
purplehamsa wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
Did I forget the draught in the south east? The floods in the mid-west? I don't think the economy has made those in the effected regions forget that much has changed in their weather patterns.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Oct. 11th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - purplehamsa - Oct. 11th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC) Expand
tamrinm wrote:
Oct. 11th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
I think when you have politicians and celebrities bring attention to the 'truth' of man made climate change, everyone is ready to believe and take up the cause. But the real truth is that scientists can't agree that man made climate change is real. Climate change is a fact that happens to our earth throughout it's existance. I found this quote interesting: Philip Stott, emeritus professor of bio-geography at the University of London, says: "What we have fundamentally forgotten is simple primary school science. Climate always changes. It is always… warming or cooling, it's never stable. And if it were stable, it would actually be interesting scientifically because it would be the first time for four and a half billion years…. So the debate, is climate changing and are humans affecting climate change, is actually nearly irrelevant. The answers are yes and yes, and always will be."

You can give me articles from The Huffington Post and from Bill Moyers, and I can give you these articles:

NASA’s Spencer Tells Congress Global Warming Is Not a Crisis

Global Warming: The Cold, Hard Facts? By Timothy Ball - one of the first Canadian Ph.Ds. in Climatology.

And Ironically: Europe's Warming Attributed to Cleaner Air, Not Climate Change

I can go on, but this website does for me

So, until we have true irrefutable proof about man made climate change, I would rather we address immediate issues on the campaign trail. This does not mean that your issue would not be addressed in the next presidency, just that it is not a campaign issue.

Edited at 2008-10-11 11:39 pm (UTC)
theonides wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
"...until we have true irrefutable proof about man made climate change, I would rather we address immediate issues on the campaign trail."

What exactly would qualify for you as "irrefutable proof"? Do we have to wait until Canada is the next world superpower and the global average temperature has risen 6 degrees Celsius and the atmospheric levels of CO2 have tripled and the ocean has become a acidic bath that kills fish?

Scientists do agree, despite your paltry links, that climate change is real and that at the least a substantial portion of it is the result of human activity. What you need to support your accusations that it isn't actually happening because of people is cite even a single peer-reviewed scientific paper. The Huffington Post is not a peer-reviewed science journal, nor is anything else you link to.

And yes, climate does change, slowly, and for certain fairly well-understood reasons. The problem is how, why, and how much. And particularly the how much and how fast are the big problems. Dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at a rate that changed the climate only slowly would not be of major consequence. The problem is that we are depositing large amounts and there is a delay between what we add and the amount of additional heat it can absorb from the sun. Even if we stopped adding CO2 today, the warming would still go on because what's already there hasn't absorbed as much heat as it possibly can.
(no subject) - tamrinm - Oct. 12th, 2008 04:56 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - acidosaur - Oct. 15th, 2008 09:25 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - tamrinm - Oct. 15th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - acidosaur - Oct. 16th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - tamrinm - Oct. 16th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - noodle_netta - Oct. 17th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - acidosaur - Oct. 20th, 2008 04:22 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - tamrinm - Oct. 12th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC) Expand
theonides wrote:
Oct. 12th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC)
My understanding of why it hasn't been as big an issue in this election is that because early on John McCain broke with the White House policy and acknowledged that climate change was real and at least gave lip service to doing something about it. However, if you look at the discussion of energy, there is plenty there that is "coded" for "I'm dealing with climate change" vs. "I'm not really taking it seriously". McCain wants to drill for more oil and supports "clean coal technology". Any advocate for addressing climate change knows that neither is addressing the CO2 problem. Discussion of alternative energy like wind or solar, etc., are addressing both energy independence and climate change. McCain, for instance, supports nuclear power and he's talked favourably of what is happening in France with nuclear power.

So, I disagree. It is actually being talked about. Just not in so many words, because both of the candidates at least nominally agree on it. The debate is more over how to deal with it, and how much.
wolfwyndd wrote:
Oct. 13th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I don't think either candidate really cares all that much about the environment. Palin is fine with killing all the bears and wolves and (I suspect) that since Obama hasn't jumped on that bandwagon then he doesn't have any better record on it either. IE, if I keep my mouth shut it won't be an issue.

I think there's also a secondary issue of that average american joe can't grasp that something ten or twenty or fifty years down the road is that big a deal. IMO, if environment was THAT big of a deal then some american would have figured out how to build a WATER pipeline from the Great Lakes to the desert south west and from Washington state to Florida with all sorts of lakes and resevoirs all over the country. Why is it that we can build an Oil pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states, but we can't ship potable water from one side of the country to the other?
noodle_netta wrote:
Oct. 15th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
First, I don't typically enter into these sorts of forum discussions, but this is a topic that I feel needs some attention. I know that it is impossible to change anyone's opinion, but I feel that I am called to make an attempt.

Second, let me put out there that I am a scientist. I do not read media reports on who is saying what about "climate change" or "global warming". I read peer-reviewed journals and I trust my information on research groups that have produced good, complete scientific reports of their observations.

The fact is this: the data is clear. Many many many research groups are attempting to answer questions that relate to the increase of temperature and CO2 levels on our planet. These research groups are funded by many different sources and exist in many different places and are studying in all corners of the globe and are attempting to answer many very different questions. Yet, the data from these groups show that there has been a rapid increase in temperature and the CO2 level since the industrial revolution.

If you would like to check my facts a place that I would suggest starting is with Dr. Lonnie Thompson from Ohio State University. Dr. Thompson won the National Medal of Science in 2007 which is the highest honor for a US scientist.

So, with the knowledge that the temperatures and the levels of CO2 are rising more rapidly than they have at any other point in ice core history raises the question, "what are we going to do about it?".

I believe that it does not matter whether or not this phenomenon is natural or human caused. Is there any harm done by creating energy practices that are more environmentally friendly? Maybe our efforts on reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere has no effect on the CO2 levels, does this mean that it is a bad thing that we are using fewer fossil fuels and thus reducing our dependence on foreign oil and other sources of fossil fuels?

Another factor that tends to be overlooked in this debate is the opportunity for economic stimulation by focusing on environmental issues. In order for us to provide options beyond fossil fuels (natural gas and coal) many things must be accomplished. There must be new innovations created by scientists and engineers. These innovations must then be incorporated into the daily lifestyle of the citizens. Doing this creates what America needs the most right now: DOMESTIC JOBS. Maybe these efforts do not end up solving the "climate change" issue, but these efforts can do nothing but help our suffering economy and provide us more options in the future.

Therefore I believe that the question the politicians should be discussing is not efforts for reducing our impact on the environment, but ways to provide incentives for individuals and businesses to switch to alternatives. Additionally, for the switch to alternatives to be possible the politicians must also enter into a discussion about funding for basic science research. Very little can be accomplished until better alternatives are created in the labs and the labs can do very little until some money is available (see reports on the decrease in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) has had in the past 8 years).

And to tamrinm, if you read the documentation you will see that for compact fluorescent bulbs an average of 4 mg of mercury is used. That is about enough mercury to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. You will also find that manufactures are working to reduce the amount of mercury in the bulbs. With these efforts the amount of mercury that are found in the bulbs has been reduced to 1.4-2.5 mg of mercury per bulb. This amount of mercury does not require special disposal precautions. See the following document for more information.
tamrinm wrote:
Oct. 16th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)
Thank you for participating in the discussion and adding your scientific opinion, the scientists sometimes tend to get lost in our culture of politicians and celebrities. As you probably have guessed, I tend to have a different opinion than most of the people in this community. But, I do value what you have to say. And hopefully, you would probably acknowledge that there are some in the scientific community who disagree with how the climate change is happening.

Since you commented on the CFL bulbs, I hope you noticed that I did think that some positive things come from discussions such as these, even if I don't like CFLs. :) Whether we believe in the issue, or not, it has gotten us to explore more effecient ways to live. And that is a complete positive in my book. I am perfectly happy to stop using fossil fuels (I am in love with my electric lawn mower), and I would prefer for it to be sooner rather than later. If this is what leads us to finally breaking our dependence of it, than so be it.

However, costs of changing our entire lifestyle does concern me. You mentioned incentives to individuals and businesses. If everyone were to take advantage of that, that is a lot of money coming out of the US pocketbook. Add to that the bailout package that just got passed, and the government buying into the major banks, I have to ask where is the money going to come from? The easy answer is to raise taxes, but if we have to get incentives to pay for our new items, then we can't afford to pay any more taxes. This may have been a major issue for the last couple of years, but our economic problems have really called into question what we can afford. I don't know how that effects all of the people that say this has to happen now, now, now, because I don't think it can be done now. But, that doesn't mean that it will go away or be ignored in the future.

Edited at 2008-10-16 04:38 am (UTC)
dcstarfish wrote:
Oct. 23rd, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
Is no one else bothered that we are the ONLY developed nation that has not signed the Kyoto Pact? Maybe the pact isn't perfect, nothing is, but can we really say the rest of the world is wrong to put the earth first? I mean, it isn't only our earth...
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