If you haven’t heard, there was no discussion—let alone utterance—of “climate change” in the presidential debates this year. First time it’s happened since 1988 and it didn’t go unnoticed throughout the blogosphere, across the Twittersphere, and in pre- and post-debate articles and discussions. A simple search will yield plenty of links to read.The absence of any acknowledgement of climate change and its effect on how we live, play, and work was nothing short of stunning, not to mention irresponsible. Like many others, I was hoping the candidates would have addressed jobs, foreign policy, and healthcare within the context of climate change and our global energy crisis. What we got was a neatly siloed discourse on each issue; we were fed the same old sound bites in the same old packaging as in the past. Billions in lobbying by the fossil fuel industry and its special interests can have this effect when the money lands in campaign coffers.
All the while, we emitted another 14.92 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Created 58 million barrels of waste water to produce 4.8 million barrels of oil and 66 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Handed the coal, natural gas and oil industries another $11.5 million in incentives.
If only U.S. political “leaders” would apply the same scale and effort they do to whining about what the other party did or didn’t do to actively combating the most critical issue staring all of us in the eye. We need bold leaders with their own ideas—not a party line—who understand that 6 billion (and growing) people’s future is inextricably linked to how aggressively, creatively and responsibly we address climate change and the global energy challenge. We need both local and large-scale solutions today, not 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.
Despite the political silence during this campaign season and the billions spent in lobbying by the fossil fuel industry, I can’t help wonder if the latter isn’t feeling a bit squeezed by the millions of real leaders found among the younger generations and communities around the globe. They are the ones leading an energy revolution and moving us toward a clean energy future faster. My money is on these leaders. U.S. politicians might do well to hitch their political future to them instead of an industry stuck in the muck.