For the first time in this year’s presidential debates, the two candidates were asked point-blank about what they would do to address climate change in the first two years of their administration.

Ingrid Jackson asks the candidates about environmental issues

Ingrid Jackson asks the candidates about environmental issues.

This morning, Grist caught up with the young woman who asked the question — Ingrid Jackson, 30, a senior psychology major at Tennessee State University in Nashville and a Children Services Officer for the Tennessee Department of Children Services. She said that while she “kind of leaned toward Obama” prior to last night’s debate, his answer to her question confirmed her inclinations.

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“I’m for Obama now,” said Jackson. “I think McCain, really when he answered my question, he just kind of went through his same spiel, and brought the focus back to offshore drilling, which is not going to help the environment.”

“I liked Obama’s response, just because he seemed to agree that it was a very important issue,” she said. “McCain, his response was good, but I feel like he was just giving the same thing … he used it to plug his offshore drilling.”

Jackson said she liked Obama’s response that “we can’t simply drill our way out of the problem.”

“There’s no need to do offshore drilling when we don’t even have the capacity. We don’t have the oil reserves as compared to the rest of the world. And I think that the focus should be on not using fossil fuels, not drilling for more. I believe that Obama is more like me in that respect.”

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But Jackson criticized both candidates for not really addressing the time-frame of two years that she stated in her question. “I don’t think the either one dealt with the urgency issue,” she said. “I think it’s very feasible for them to do things within the first two years, especially since the green jobs would help the economy … It’s possible — it’s just going to cost money.”

Jackson said that climate change and environmental destruction have been issues concerning her for years now, and that the lack of action has been frustrating.

“I remember being in grade school and talking about the hole in the ozone layer, and it just really affected me, because we only have one planet. What would we do? How would we change it? What could we do? It’s kind of like a death sentence,” said Jackson. “So, fast-forward and it’s 20 years later and we still haven’t done anything, really.”

Unfortunately, said Jackson, it’s not an issue that politicians often — if ever — focus on, which prompted her question last night.

“I knew when they asked me to come that my question was going to be about the environment, because everybody always focuses on what’s hot at the moment, and people forget about the environment,” said Jackson. “It’s not something they have to deal with constantly. They have bills, or they have children in Iraq, and they focus on that. It’s easy to use those things to not deal with the environment.”

“The only time [candidates] deal with the environment is … well, actually, they don’t seem to be dealing with it at all,” she said.