Tom Brokaw: Why Haven’t Presidential Debates Discussed Climate Change?

On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw listed climate change among the topics that neither the first presidential debate nor the vice presidential debate delved into (skip to 27:49):

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MR. BROKAW: I think that the two candidates are going to have to have big ideas and they’re going to have to be explained not only coherently but practically speaking. And they’re going to have to be candid with the American public. I think that we’ll hear from President Obama as we did not in that first debate a lot more about the 47 percent remarks, about the auto bailout for General Motors. I think the challenger, Governor Romney, will be saying once again are you better off now than you were four years ago? Where is that plan? So, this is good for the country. And I– I look forward to it. Here are some things that we have not we have not talked about. Not talked about immigration so far. There has been no discussion of global warming. There has been no discussion across the country, including in the State of Virginia, public pensions that are unfunded. And that’s a burning fuse for this country and that’s going to play into the economy downstream as well as municipalities and county governments begin to look for help from the federal government because they can’t pay off whatever they’re going to do. We’re in for a tough time here folks. And I think the American public, as I talk to them, want detailed answers and they want candor and they say, hey, look, don’t try to smoke me this time.

Unfortunately, moderator David Gregory immediately steered the panel discussion back to the format of the next debate – a topic of great interest to Washington insiders, but not exactly a critical issue on Main Street.

Climate Silence

So far, the debates have ducked conservation. That’s even though poll after poll shows deep concern about climate change:

  • Two-thirds (67%) of Americans, including 65% of independents, see solid evidence of global warming, up 10% in the last 3 years. That’s according to a new Pew Research Center poll.
  • Government action to regulate the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming is supported by 74% of Americans, according to an August poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Among sportsmen, a conservative-leaning group, two in three (66%) believe we have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children’s future. Additionally, 69% agree the U.S. should reduce its carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and threaten fish and wildlife habitat.

Tuesday night’s town hall debate may open up new topics, thanks in part to the over 3,000 questions submitted by Google users. However, the early agenda for the final debate doesn’t look good for talk of global climate change. Moderator Bob Schieffer is defining “foreign policy” to focus heavily on terrorism and the Middle East. His released list of topics doesn’t even mention energy policy or climate change, even though the Pentagon calls global warming a national security threat.

Take Action

If President Obama and Mitt Romney think climate change is worth debating, they don’t have to sit back and wait to be asked. Take action right now and urge President Obama and Governor Romney to tell us their plans to confront climate change.