In a poll conducted this month by VICE News, The Guardian, George Mason University, and Yale Climate Connection, an overwhelming majority of American voters said they want the federal government to support efforts to address global heating in a meaningful way. That includes a carbon tax on big polluters and joining with other nations to implement the Paris climate accords. They told the pollsters they want whoever is America’s next president to make addressing climate change a top priority.
According to The Guardian, “Seven in 10 voters support government action to address climate change, with three-quarters wanting the US to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind within 15 years.covering climate now. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who supports the complete shift to clean energy, with a further seven in 10 voters supporting US involvement in the Paris climate agreement. Two-thirds of voters said climate should be a priority for whoever wins the election.”
Ed Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, tells The Guardian, “There may be a divide on Capitol Hill but the large majority of us are worried about climate change and want to see leaders deal with it. This is the first election where climate change has featured heavily. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in American politics before. Climate change played a much bigger role in the recent primary elections than in any prior U.S. election,” he adds. “Given that the large majority of Americans think a clean energy future is the right path for America, it looks like climate change may play a decisive role in the upcoming general election too.”
And yet, not one single question in the upcoming presidential debates will address climate change, even though three quarters of those polled said they wanted such questions included. “With wildfires scorching the West and both presidential candidates recently taking dramatically different positions on climate change, we hope that our colleagues moderating these debates — Chris Wallace of Fox News, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, and Kristen Welker of NBC News—take these findings to heart and ask both Biden and Trump smart questions about the defining issue of our time,” says Mark Hertsgaard, the executive director of Covering Climate Now, which describes itself as “a global journalism initiative committed to more and better coverage of the defining story of our time. ”
The polling found that 90% of Democrats describe climate change as either a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. 80% support the Green New Deal. That’s not surprising. What is surprising, though, is the survey found among Republican voters, more than half consider an overheating planet a serious problem, 41% support the Green New Deal, and 51% favor a renewed commitment to the Paris climate accords.
Republicans haven’t found the courage to help Americans devastated by the coronavirus in the past 4 months but Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasn’t dead 4 hours before they agreed to ram through an extreme right wing nominee to replace her on the US Supreme Court. They prefer to run around throwing snowballs at each other to prove climate change isn’t happening and listen to phony reports created by sham organizations like the Heritage Society whose main mission is to keep the money train flowing for the fossil fuel industry. Never has one political party been more out of touch with the people it supposedly represents.
In the poll, 65% of voters said they want to see Congress and the next president draft a serious, comprehensive bill addressing how the U.S. plans to fight climate change as soon as next year, according to VICE News. A clear majority wants any economic stimulus package from Congress to give priority to investments in clean technologies, especially renewable energy. 68% of voters believe a national effort to embrace clean energy would not only help bolster the economy, it would also provide incentives to private companies to do the same. Is anyone in Washington listening?
“Despite opposition from some elected Republicans, climate and renewable energy policies continue to be popular across party lines,” says Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. “Americans support major investments to accelerate the transition to clean energy and participation in the worldwide effort to reduce carbon pollution.”
What Should Joe Biden Do?
Conventional wisdom in the political arena says don’t answer the question that was asked. Answer the question you wish had been asked instead. Politicians do this all the time. Joe Biden will not be asked one question about climate change, despite the overwhelming evidence provided by cataclysmic forest fires up and down the West Coast this summer and a succession of devastating storms in the Gulf of Mexico. So, Joe, here’s some free advice from CleanTechnica.
Introduce the subject of climate change in the debates yourself. No one elected Chris Wallace to be the gate keeper of American democracy. Bring it up yourself. The voters will love you for it and there’s a distinct possibility your opponent’s head will explode if he is forced to state his antediluvian attitudes on the subject while all of America watches.
Democrats have been pummeled repeatedly for the past 6 years by Republicans who known no shame and are obsessed with winning at any cost. It’s time to take the gloves off and punch back — hard. If you do it, you will win the election and your party will control both houses of Congress, which is really the only chance America has of saving its democracy.
There’s a problem, of course. The Democratic party also gets truckloads of campaign cash from fossil fuel interests. If you support the Green New Deal, you will lose that source of income. But there’s a very good chance a flood of small private donations will more than make up for any shortfall.
Do it, Joe. Look America in the eye and promise to make keeping the Earth safe for human habitation your top priority. This is your moment, your chance to break your presidential campaign wide open and drag America back from the precipice. Carpe diem.