Will the Candidates End the “Climate Silence” Tonight?

Image courtesy of <a href="http://climatesilence.org/">ClimateSilence.org</a>


The final debate before the presidential election will take place tonight in Boca Raton, Florida. Since it’s focused on foreign policy, might the candidates finally be asked directly about climate change—arguably the biggest foreign policy challenge issue for the future?

A lot of people are hoping so. After last week’s debate, moderator Candy Crowley said she had a question “for all you climate people,” but she didn’t get to it before the debate wrapped up. So far, all the talk has been about “energy independence,” while “climate change” is the issue that shall not be named.

Maybe Florida will be different. It is, after all, a state surrounded by water and highly vulnerable to sea level rise. The state includes eight of the ten cities most likely to be affected by rising seas and increased storm surges, putting 2.4 million people and 1.3 million homes at risk, according to a report from Climate Central earlier this year.

This is why more than 120 scientists and public officials in Florida have signed a letter asking President Obama and Governor Romney to address sea level rise at this week’s debate. The letter asks the candidates to discuss three questions that are of great importance for Florida and other states facing similar challenges:

– What will be the federal government’s planning and policy priorities in order to reduce the risks of future sea level rise?

– What will be the polices for adaptive measures to respond to current and future impacts of sea level rise?

– How would you work with the rest of the world to address rising sea levels and other effects of climate change?

Meanwhile, Forecast the Facts and Friends of the Earth Action have started an online petition and campaign asking the candidates to stop the “climate silence.” ” “National elections should be a time when our nation considers the great challenges and opportunities the next President will face,” the groups write. “But the climate conversation of 2012 has been defined by a deafening silence.”

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.