Energy and the climate received fleeting attention at the third debate among aspirants for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
The subject occupied 7 min of the 3-hr talkathon on Sept. 12. Two of the three leading candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden, never were prompted to address it.
Part of the explanation might be that the debate occurred at Texas Southern University in Houston.
To varying degrees, the wannabes speak frequently against oil and gas. Many of them propose to end federal leasing, ban hydraulic fracturing, or curtail use of fossil energy.
In Texas, that’s no way to make friends.
The other leading candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, suppressed her antagonism in Houston but a week earlier complained about the fossil-fuel industry’s supposed armlock on Congress, declaring, “We have to tackle the corruption head on so we can save our planet.”
Biden, though silent in Houston, made his position clear Sept. 6 in New Castle, NH. Criticized for attending a fundraiser hosted by the cofounder of an LNG company, he said, “I guarantee you: we’re going to end fossil fuel.”
Sanders, of course, accuses oil and gas companies of criminal behavior for not quitting work when they first learned about climate change.
Another reason climate spent so little time in the lights on Sept. 12 might be that it spent too much time there on Sept. 4, when candidates discussed it on television for 7 hr. Warren made her corruption charge in that caldron of climatological anxiety.
The doomsayers had help from the host, which described the event as “CNN’s climate crisis town hall.”
The title is fatally prejudicial. It precludes discussion of the proposition, from serious and knowledgeable people seldom in the news, that climate change might not represent crisis.
This might be another reason the recent debate dealt so glancingly with climate. Most reporters haven’t bothered to learn enough about climate change to know all the questions needing answers.
Or maybe they just won’t ask them.