In the 2008 presidential debates, moderators Tom Brokaw (second debate) and Bob Schieffer (third debate) asked presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain about climate change and reducing American dependence on oil. Both candidates vigorously supported reductions in carbon pollution, though the means to that end differed.
Since that election, the scientific evidence that climate change is real and human-caused has only grown. The health impact and economic costs of the extreme weather events and record temperatures of 2010, 2011, and 2012 are a 10-alarm warning that climate change poses a real threat to Americans and the world. And unlike in 2008, there is a clear difference between the candidates on whether to slow this looming disaster, let alone how to solve it.
The first 2012 presidential debate in Denver on Oct. 3 is scheduled to cover domestic policy, with a focus on the economy. Our energy future and response to climate change are as relevant to jobs, taxes, spending, and deficits as any other questions. A coalition of environmental groups just delivered 160,000 signatures to the first debate moderator, Jim Lehrer, “urging him to ask President Obama and Governor Romney about climate change during the first presidential debate next week.” Hopefully Lehrer will respond to this public view by asking at least one question related to climate change and clean energy.
Since the candidates have very different positions on the issues, Lehrer should pose different questions to them. Below are some suggestions, along with some background information on them.