About Climate Silence

In an election season regarded as excessively "market-tested" and lacking in big ideas, climate change's downgrade from a once-high profile issue has been lamented by political figures and journalists across the spectrum. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press have all taken note of the appalling lack of climate discussion on the campaign trail. Important party figures are speaking out, too. Below is our summary of media stories and political speeches that have called out the climate silence.

Former Vice President Says The President 'Is The Only Person Who Can Rally The United States' To 'Save Our Future.' The real power of any president, as Richard Neustadt wrote, is "the power to persuade." Yet President Obama has never presented to the American people the magnitude of the climate crisis. He has simply not made the case for action. He has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks. Nor has he provided a presidential venue for the scientific community — including our own National Academy — to bring the reality of the science before the public. Here is the core of it: we are destroying the climate balance that is essential to the survival of our civilization. This is not a distant or abstract threat; it is happening now. The United States is the only nation that can rally a global effort to save our future. And the president is the only person who can rally the United States. ["Climate of Denial," Al Gore, Rolling Stone, 6/22/11]

2004 Democratic Presidential Nominee John Kerry Decries A Lack of Leadership From Both Parties On Climate Change. "As a matter of conscience and common sense, we should be compelled to fight today's insidious conspiracy of silence on climate change—a silence that empowers misinformation and mythology to grow where science and truth should prevail... The media hardly murmurs when a candidate for President of the United States in 2012 can walk away from previously held positions to announce that the evidence is not yet there about the impact of greenhouse gases on climate." [John Kerry, 6/19/12]

Environmental Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert Notes The Irony Of Climate Silence In The Midst Of A Severe Summer. "Along with the heat and the drought and the super derecho, the country this summer is also enduring a Presidential campaign. So far, the words "climate change" have barely been uttered. This is not an oversight. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have chosen to remain silent on the issue, presumably because they see it as just too big a bummer." ["The Big Heat," Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker, 7/23/12]

New York Times Energy Reporter John Broder Comments On The "Climate And Energy Stalemate" Underway. "Attuned to the public's ambivalence, both political parties and their presidential candidates are playing down the climate issue. Instead, what passes for an energy debate in the United States is rivalry over which party is more devoted to extracting oil and gas from the ground and the seabed." ["A Climate and Energy Stalemate." John Broder, New York Times, 7/26/12]

Emory University Political Psychologist Drew Westen Editorializes That Obama Should Not Shy From Opportunities To Forcefully Articulate Present Challenges. "The nation has experienced climate change firsthand, with Americans witnessing extreme weather, drought, wildfires, floods and harvests destroyed by the scorched-earth policies of the oil and coal industries. But Obama, like his challenger, has simply turned up his air conditioner, refusing to connect the dots between the devastation people can see and the causes they are finally ready to accept." ["If Obama loses the election, here's why," Drew Westen, Washington Post, 7/27/12]

In The 'Journal Of Atomic Scientists,' Dr. Robert Brulle Writes That Obama Must Forthrightly Address Climate Change. "Rather than attempting to build a public consensus to address climate change, the Obama administration is perpetuating the cultural delusion that we can continue business as usual, and that climate change does not require substantial and politically painful actions. While this strategy might prove to be advantageous in the short term, it saddles future administrations and generations with a heavy political, economic, and environmental burden. Even if Obama wins, he will have built no mandate for action during his second term." ["Conspiracy of Silence: The irresponsible politics of climate change," Robert J. Brulle, 7/31/2012]

National Journal Environmental Reporter Amy Harder Notes That Both Candidates Are 'MIA On Climate.' "This year's unremitting heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and freak storms have thrust climate change back into the spotlight. But even with the issue fresh in people's minds—not to mention in media coverage and Washington's echo chamber—climate change hasn't made it onto the priority list that matters most: the presidential campaign trail." ["MIA on Climate Change," Amy Harder, National Journal, 8/3/12]

Washington Post Columnist Eugene Robinson Makes The Case For A Serious Climate Change Debate. "I'd like to hear President Obama and Mitt Romney talk about the future of the planet. What about you?" ["Heating up debate on climate change," Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, 8/9/12]

AP Reporter Steve Hurst Quotes Numerous Observers Disgruntled With Obama And Romney's Failure To Make Climate Change An Election Issue. "Barack Obama promised to tackle climate change when he first ran for the White House four years ago, but he speaks little of the issue as he runs this year for re-election, even as the United States suffers through the worst drought in decades and the hottest month on record…as the close race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney nears the November election, climate change is little mentioned by Obama." ["Climate change not a presidential election issue yet," Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press, 8/9/12]

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer Laments Campaign Focus On Silly Issues Over The Serious Challenge Of Global Warming. "The pace of global warming is accelerating and the scale of the impact is devastating. The time for action is limited—we are approaching a tipping point beyond which the opportunity to reverse the damage of CO2 emissions will disappear. And what are we talking about in our presidential campaign? Obamaloney and Romney Hood. Silliness has taken over, and the capacity to raise tough issues has dissipated if not gone entirely. Climate change appears to have fallen off the political agenda." ["A Climate Change Fix Conservatives Can Love," Eliot Spitzer, Slate.com, 8/9/12]

Huffington Post Writer Tom Zeller, Jr. Contrasts Climate Science Developments With Presidential Candidates' Continual Refusal To Discuss Climate Change. Over the course of the last two weeks, two scientists — James E. Hansen of Columbia University and Richard A. Muller at the University of California, Berkeley — took to the pages of two prominent American newspapers to present new and compelling evidence that climate change is real, that it is driven overwhelmingly by human activity, and that its dire effects are already upon us….The nation took note and then went about its business. Minds were not changed. Energy policies were not revisited in any meaningful way. And most notably, the two presidential campaigns, now rounding the final turn toward November's election, remained characteristically mute on the whole issue. ["Global Warming Debate Needs Cooler Heads To Prevail," Tom Zeller Jr., Huffington Post, 8/10/12]

New York Times Blogger Andrew Revkin Posits That Candidates Should Talk About Climate, Drawing On A Yale Study. "The short answer is that – at the national level and among ten key swing states – taking a pro-climate stand appears to benefit candidates more than hurt them with registered voters. Of course, the political dynamics in any given district may be an exception to this pattern, but it is important to note that the pattern is similar at both the national and swing-state scales." ["Should Candidates Talk About Climate Change?," Andrew Revkin, New York Times, 8/14/12]

The Columbia Journalism Review Summarizes Media Criticism Of Obama/Romney's Climate Silence. "Nary a word has been spoken about climate change on the presidential campaign trail, and it's a silence that some journalists find deafening. In the last few weeks, a variety of reporters have called out the candidates for utterly ignoring the issue." ["Candidates Clam Up on Climate Change," Curtis Bernard, Columbia Journalism Review, 8/21/12]

Economic Consultant Andrew Winston Explains The Pro-Business Reasons For Presenting A Climate Change Plan. Here's what makes the general silence on climate and the mocking from the self-identified pro-business party so absurd: tackling climate change is the smartest thing we can do for both our public health and our private sector. Reducing carbon emissions from our power plants, cars, and factories cleans the air and saves a lot of money. At the macro level, the burning of coal alone costs the U.S. about $350 billion per year in health (asthma, heart attacks, and so on) and pollution costs. At the micro level, from companies down to households, the opportunities to get lean and save money are vast. ["Politicians Who Deny Climate Change Cannot Be Pro-Business," Andrew Winston, Bloomberg,9/8/12]

National Journal's Post-Convention Wrap-up Speculates As To Whether Climate Will Finally Make An Appearance As An Electoral Issue. "Despite conventional campaign wisdom that talking about climate change during economically tough times is a losing issue, some experts say that Romney's climate jab may have hurt him, while creating a new opening for Obama to win over independent voters. While questioning climate change may have helped Romney win in primaries, polls show that the majority of general-election voters accept climate science. An August poll from Yale University found that 55 percent of voters say they will consider candidates' views on global warming when deciding how to vote, and that 88 percent support U.S. action to reduce global warming, even if it has economic costs. The authors of the poll presented their findings to the White House this spring, noting that it ran counter to conventional campaign wisdom." ["Conventions Revive Climate Change Debate," Coral Davenport, National Journal, 9/8/12]

Christian Science Monitor Likens Climate Change To Unmentionable 'Harry Potter' Character. "Like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter saga, climate change has been the issue 'that shall not be named' – mostly a political no-show in the presidential campaign." ["Climate Change: Why it May Become a Hot Topic on the Campaign Trail," Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, 9/9/12]

McClatchy Reporter Erika Bolstad Reviews Various Efforts To Magnify Climate Discussion On The Campaign Trail. "'Plenty is at stake, ' said Marc Weiss, a documentary filmmaker and Obama supporter whose film on the history of the environmental movement will be released in the coming month. He continues to support the Obama-Biden campaign. But Weiss wants more voices to speak out on climate. "It’s not just about the moral imperative," he said. "I think it could be a winning political strategy. There’s a dramatic choice here, and for me it’s a no-brainer." [“As climate change crisis looms, presidential campaigns stay quiet,” Erika Bolstad, McClatchy Newspapers, 9/16/12 ]

Associated Press Science Writer Borenstein Writes That Fleeting Climate Mentions Fail To Highlight Severity Of Climate Change. “The issue of man-made global warming is "totally missing" from the campaign between Obama and Romney, says Jacoby. It should be talked about, he says, because "we're running a serious risk of passing a much-damaged planet to our descendants." [“Climate Change: Presidential Campaign Fails to Highlight Severeity of the Issue,” Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, 9/23/12 ]

In Yom Kippur Message, Blogger A. Siegel Says 'Our Souls Have Transgressed With Climate Silence. "It is clear: one can do wrong through action and words … and one can do wrong through inaction and silence. And, there is a silence that bears heavily on the heart at this time: the silence in our political leadership and among too many of us on the damage we are doing to the planetary system, the risks of climate change, and the urgent necessity for meaningful change to change our path toward something that enables sustainable prosperity for humanity." "Even though climate change is an arena of incredibly stark differentiation between the parties (and candidates); even though President Obama’s one-liner about climate change was one of the best received lines during his DNC speech; even though 'the future of our planet is at stake', the silence about climate change from Presidential candidate Barack Obama and Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden is simply deafening." ["Ashamnu: Our souls have transgressed with climate silence," A. Siegel, Get Energy Smart, 9/25/12]

Editorial In International Science Journal ‘Nature’ Makes Compelling Case For Climate Leadership. “Given the toxic political atmosphere surrounding the November elections, it is perhaps understandable that the administration, Democrats and even some environmentalists are saying little about global warming. But by failing to speak out, they have often ceded the airwaves to deniers. Although polling shows that almost two-thirds of US citizens support some kind of action on global warming, law-makers in Washington DC are back to debating the validity of climate science. The United States needs leadership that is willing and able to uphold and act on the science.” [“A second wind for the president,” Nature, 9/26/12 ]

TreeHugger's Brian Merchant Decries 'Silent Farce' Of Candidates When Climate Change Is 'Slapping Us In The Face.' "Our leaders are essentially having no political dialogue at all about climate change while it's slapping us in the face. It's time indeed to end this silent farce." ["Two Ways to Break Romney & Obama's Silence on Climate Change," Brian Merchant, TreeHugger, 9/28/12]

Climatewire Reporter Evan Lehmann Says Climate Change In Presidential Race Is 'Boiled Down To A Joke' Or 'A Meager Rebuttal,' Notes President Obama Did Not Mention Climate In UN Speech. "There's perhaps no friendlier place than the United Nations to talk about climate change. But President Obama steered clear this week, focusing instead on an issue that Mitt Romney has bothered him with -- an anti-Muslim video. The omission is reflective of a presidential race in which climate change is rarely touched on and, when it is, is boiled down to a joke, or a meager rebuttal. As a political dance, the climate change sidestep is increasingly frustrating to those who believe that climate change is a global challenge that should top the ticket -- of both parties. After addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama returned to the campaign trail to deliver a stump speech yesterday that promotes 'clean coal' and natural gas as much as wind and solar." ["Frustration builds over campaign's silence on climate change," Evan Lehmann, Climatewire, 9/28/12]

New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert Criticizes Presidential Candidates As Climate Crisis Grows. "You might have thought that with the Arctic melting, the U.S. in the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, and more than sixty per cent of the lower forty-eight states experiencing 'moderate to exceptional' drought, at least one of the candidates would feel compelled to speak out about the issue. If that’s the case, though, you probably live in a different country." ["Hotter Than Paul Ryan," Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 9/28/12]

Front Page New York Times Profile Of Romney Tracks His Descent Into Climate Silence Since Serving As Massachusetts Governor. "Today, as the Republican nominee for president, Mr. Romney is far more apt to talk about oil drilling than energy-efficient cars. He has presented a plan to open up more land and coastline to oil and gas drilling, grant speedy approval to the Keystone pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to the United States, end wind and solar power subsidies and curb regulations that discourage burning coal for electricity. It is an agenda far different from the one he outlined in his early days as governor." ["Romney Shifted Right on Energy as Presidential Politics Beckoned," Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times , 9/29/12 ]

Kassie Siegel, Director Of Center For Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, Compares Debates To Job Interview, Calls For Candidates To Stop Shirking Tough Questions. "Debate moderator Jim Lehrer announced recently that the Oct. 3 event will focus on the economy, health care and the role of government. Global warming is apparently off the menu. That needs to change. Both candidates should be pressed to disclose exactly where they stand on climate change -- and to offer a detailed plan for confronting the problem. Getting straight answers won't be easy. Giving climate change the silent treatment is apparently a tactical move. Voters, the idea goes, don't care enough. But even that bad excuse for dodging this critically important issue is undermined by a new poll." ["Denver Debate Shouldn't Skip Tough Questions," Kassie Siegel, Huffington Post , 10/2/12 ]

Front-Page San Francisco Chronicle Story Calls Out Global Warming As The 'Biggest Topic' Neither Candidate 'Wants To Touch.' "When President Obama and Mitt Romney square off Wednesday in their first debate, global warming may be the biggest topic that neither wants to touch. Obama devoted all of four sentences to climate change in his speech at the Democratic National Convention last month. Romney rarely mentions it at all." ["Candidates ignore climate change debate," David Baker, San Francisco Chronicle , 10/3/12 ]

Chris Mooney Of The Atlantic's Climate Desk Reviews Polling Data Suggesting Climate Can Be A Winning Message For Candidates, Calls President Obama's Convention Mention Of Climate Change A 'Messaging Turnaround.' "It was quite the messaging turnaround. In his September 6 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, President Obama -- whose reticence about so much as mentioning global warming has flummoxed environmental activists -- used the subject to launch an unexpected attack on his opponent. "Climate change is not a hoax," the president declared. "More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children's future." In the after-speech gabfest, Politico cited the moment as one of Obama's top applause lines." ["Is Climate Change the Sleeper Issue of the 2012 election?" Chris Mooney, The Atlantic , 10/3/12 ]

Climate Scientist Scott Mandia Points Out Irony Of Candidates Flaunting National Security Credentials In Debate While Ignoring Climate Change. "So clearly our health, military, and financial experts agree that human-caused climate change poses a very real threat to our health, safety, and financial security.
But here is what each candidate said about climate change:
Yep. Nothing at all." ["Obama, Romney, PBS Let Americans Down Big Time," Scott Mandia, Professor Mandia's Blog , 10/4/12 ]

The Atlantic's Chris Mooney Interviews Physicist/Climate Expert Joe Romm About Missed Opportunities For Politicians To Talk Climate. Romm Calls Climate Change An Issue That Obama Officials 'Mistakenly Downplay.' "You can get upset about President Obama not bringing up climate change, but this is not an administration that's good at communicating -- and this is just one of the many areas that they mistakenly downplay." ["Why Aren't Politicians Listening to Joe Romm About Climate Change?", Chris Mooney, The Atlantic, 10/10/12

Previewing Second Debate On 'Meet The Press,' Longtime NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw Notes Lack Of Climate Discussion In Presidential Campaign "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...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." ["October 14th Meet the Press," Tom Brokaw, Meet the Press , 10/14/12 ]

MSNBC Commentator Chris Hayes Compares Energy Debate Without Mentioning Climate To 'Talking About Smoking And Not Talking About Cancer.'“Having an energy conversation without talking about climate is like talking about smoking and not talking about cancer. You can’t talk about it unless you talk about what the stakes are for the climate. It’s unlikely we’ll see it in the third. Who is the more pro-coal candidate? Who is the more pro coal-candidate is who is going to most hastily speed our headlong flight of disaster towards a climate future in which we have not higher gas prices, higher temperatures.” [Post-Debate Analysis, Chris Hayes, MSNBC, 10/16/12]

Writing For Scientific American, Shawn Lawrence Otto Reviews Anti-Science Views In This Election Season, Including The Climate Silence Of Mitt Romney. “In addition, Republican attacks on settled scientific issues—such as anthropogenic climate change and evolution—have too often been met with silence or, worse, appeasement by Democrats. Governor Romney's path to endorsement exemplifies the problem. “I don't speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer,” Romney told voters in June 2011 at a town hall meeting after announcing his candidacy. “I can't prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer, and number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.” Four days later radio commentator Rush Limbaugh blasted Romney on his show...By October 2011 Romney had done an about-face.” [“Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy,” Shawn Lawrence Otto, Scientific American, 10/17/12]

Mother Jones’ Political Blogger Kevin Drum Calls Climate Change 'The Big Loser' In The Second Debate. “Neither candidate mentioned [climate change], but they practically fell all over each other to declare their love for coal and fracking and drilling for oil on federalland.”[“Last Night’s Big Loser: Climate Change,” Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 10/17/12]

Democratic Strategist Managing Editor Ed Kilgore Comments On 'Total Eclipse' Of Climate In Election. “Four years ago the Republican presidential candidate had been one of Washington’s most active legislators on climate change (though he was subsequently forced to retreat from much of his own legislation). Now not only are climate change and greenhouse gas emissions more or less forbidden subjects in the presidential contest, but environmental concerns that have been fully bipartisan for decades are going unmentioned.” [“The Total Eclipse,” Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly, 10/17/12]

The Hill’s Ben Geman Covers Another Climate Change 'No Show' At Second Debate.“Climate was also absent from their first debate, disappointing activists who wanted the candidates to address the topic that has seen little attention on the stump. But the topic’s omission this time was perhaps more noticeable because, unlike their Oct. 3 debate, the two men spent lots of time battling over energy Tuesday. Both men sought to claim a pro-oil and pro-coal mantle during the debate at Hofstra University in New York State.” [“Climate Change a No Show Despite Debate’s Energy Focus,” Ben Geman, The Hill, 10/17/12]

Salon Staff Writer Andrew Leonard Calls Energy Portion Of Second Debate 'Ludicrous' For Ignoring Climate Change. "I am sure I am not alone in being baffled at Obama’s reluctance to bring up one of the worst oil spills in American history in the context of a discussion of oil production on federal land, but that’s a minor quibble when compared to the invisibility of climate change. It’s hard to think of a better illustration of how screwed up the debate over energy policy is in this country than the sight of two candidates for president fighting with each other over who supports the coal industry with more gusto." [“What about climate change?”, Andrew Leonard, Salon, 10/17/12]

Slate’s Will Aremus Predicts That Future Generations Will Not Look Back Kindly On 2012’s Energy Debate. “When we look back on this presidential election 30 years from now, we might be darkly amused by the tenor of the debate around energy policy. Or maybe we'll just be angry. For the second debate in a row, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney sparred over who, if elected, could get the country burning more fossil fuels. And for the second debate in a row, they managed to avoid any mention of climate change or the environment. This in a debate that featured an almost unheard-of 12 minutes on energy policy.” [“Candy Crowley Almost Got Around to A Question ‘For All You Climate Change People,’” Will Aremus, Slate, 10/17/12]

Elizabeth Kolbert Writes Powerful Indictment Of Climate Silence: ‘You Can’t Solve A Problem If You Don’t Even Acknowledge It Exists.’ "But aside from the potential for job creation, the President could never quite bring himself to discuss why it might not be a good idea to burn every gallon—or cubic foot—of fossil fuels we could conceivably bring to the earth’s surface. In the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, climate change has become to the Obama Administration the Great Unmentionable, or, as the blogger Joe Romm has put it, The-Threat-That-Must-Not-Be Named. The problem with the sort of energy debate we saw on Tuesday is not just that it’s fatuous, though it certainly is that. The problem is that you can’t solve a problem if you don’t even acknowledge it exists." [“Climate Change, The Debate’s Great Unmentionable,” Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 10/17/12]

Washington Post Editorial Board Calls Out Candidates’ Climate Silence. “The discussion on energy presented a similarly dismal picture. “Few challenges facing America — and the world — are more urgent than combating climate change,” Mr. Obama said. “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.” Don’t remember those words? That’s because Mr. Obama spoke them in 2008, just after his election. At Tuesday’s debate, there was no mention of climate change. Instead, Mr. Obama boasted of “increases in coal production” during his first term. Mr. Romney assailed him because he “has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal” — these being the fuels that are warming the climate, coal above all.” [“Avoiding Reality at the Debates,” Washington Post Editorial Board, Washington Post, 10/18/12]

Baltimore Sun Editorial Board Calls On President Obama To Talk About Climate Change. “So, to review: The evidence of climate change has never been more convincing, the incumbent is head-and-shoulders above his challenger on the issue, and voters — particularly those who could swing the outcome of this year's race — are receptive to that message. It's a classic wedge issue. So why have two presidential debates gone by without a single mention of climate change, and why has it not been a featured element in the stump speeches?” [“Obama needs to talk about climate change,” Baltimore Sun Editorial Board, Baltimore Sun, 10/18/12]

Washington Post’s WonkBlog Looks Back At Past Elections, Notes ‘Strikingly Different’ Tone On Climate. “Over at the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert laments the fact that neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney had anything to say about climate change during the second presidential debate Tuesday. Oh, sure, they talked about energy — about oil leases, about coal, a few quick nods toward renewable energy. But nothing about this warming planet of ours. Nothing about the summer’s droughts or wildfires or the rapidly melting Arctic. So I was curious to look back at how Obama and John McCain talked about this issue in the previous election. The tone was strikingly different” [“How Climate Change Disappeared From the Debates,” Brad Plumer, Washington Post, 10/18/12]

In Overview Of Changed Energy Landscape From 2008, National Journal’s Coral Davenport Remarks On Climate Silence, Calls Final Debate An ‘Opportunity.’ “Although Obama and Romney have sparred repeatedly over domestic energy issues on the campaign trail, they have said little about how they would approach energy as a foreign-policy matter, let alone lay out how they would address climate change. But both of those issues will be at the heart of the nation’s foreign-policy future, and Monday’s debate provides an opportunity for some serious discussion.” [“Obama-Romney Debate A Chance to Delve Into Global Energy,” Coral Davenport, National Journal, 10/19/12]

On 'Up With Chris Hayes,' MSNBC Commentator Chris Hayes Compares 2012 Climate Silence To Climate Discussion Four Years Ago. "In the wake of this week’s debate, that moment in 2008 seems like something excavated from the ruins of a destroyed civilization. Despite the fact that this past September was tied for the warmest in the 132-year history of record keeping, the word “climate” crossed neither candidate’s lips, nor was it mentioned by moderator Candy Crowley or the audience of undecided voters selected to ask questions." ["Climate Silence," Chris Hayes, Up With Chris Hayes, 10/20/12]

“The New New Deal” Author Mike Grunwald Praises Some Obama Climate Policies, But Calls For The President To Actually Defend Them.“The point here is not to excuse Obama’s climate silence. He’s got a big megaphone, and what the president says and doesn’t say matters. It would be nice to hear him talk about clean energy as a planetary imperative as well as a source of green jobs, and hear him call out Romney for backing away from climate science to pander to Tea Party activists.” [“Nobody Mentions Climate Change, but Somebody DId Something About It,” Time, 10-22-12]

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Science Blogger Robert Brown Documents 360 Minutes Of Debate Climate Silence. “Last week, 350.org sent out an “email pointing out that 270 minutes of Presidential debate had passed without a single mention of the words ‘climate change.’ If the candidates don’t speak up tonight, this will be the first time since 1988 that climate change hasn’t been discussed in a Presidential debate. “It’s at 360 minutes now.” [“Ignoring Climate Change and Global Warming”, Robert A. Brown, Seattle Pi Blog, 10/23/12]

The Hill’s Zack Colman Juxtaposes Obama’s Defense Secretary’s Acknowledgement Of Climate Risks With Climate Silence During Foreign Policy Debate. “With Defense Secretary Leon Panetta commenting in May that “climate change has a dramatic impact on national security,” some environmental activists thought the topic could wriggle its way into Monday’s foreign policy debate. But like the previous two debates, climate change was shut out of the conversation.” [“Climate change shut out of presidential debates”, Zack Colman, The Hill,10/22/12]

Climate Scientist Michael Mann Denounces Debate Silence On 'Greatest Challenge We Face.' "The absence of climate change talk has made waves in the environmental community, which launched an aggressive campaign to bring the issue to the forefront of the debates. ‘Given that climate change may be the greatest challenge we face in the decades ahead, to be silent on the issue over the course of four debates does a real disservice to the country,' Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann said in an email." ["Climate Change Still a No-Show at Debates", Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 10/23/12 ]

In The Washington Post’s Post-Debate Analysis, Stephen Stomberg Writes That President Obama’s Victory ‘Rings Hollow’ Because Debate Ignored Climate. “But, as in previous debates, the victory rings hollow for all the issues that the candidates did not address. Aided by the moderator’s questioning, they spent exactly no time on one of the greatest challenges the world’s governments must face, and foremost among them the United States’. This problem threatens the lives and livelihood of millions, particularly in poor countries, but, left unchecked, it also poses hazards to plenty of Americans and American interests. ” [“Obama Won the Third Presidential Debate, but What about Climate Change?”, Stephen Stomberg, The Washington Post,10/23/12]

Slate’s Josh Voorhees Covers The Historic Climate Silence In The Debates. “Needless to say, climate change remained one of the "things we didn't get to" last night, marking the first time that the topic didn't make an appearance in the round of presidential and vice presidential debates in more than two decades, and providing the latest example of how green issues have been largely left out of this year's election.” [“Climate Change Was Shut Out of the Debates for First Time in 24 Years”, Josh Voorhees, Slate,10/23/12]

Commentary In Mother Jones Posits That A Drift From Science Is Responsible For Climate Silence, Quotes Disappointed Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis."Speaking from his hotel room in Washington, DC, after the third presidential debate last night, Bob Inglis—the former South Carolina Republican representative, and now conservative advocate for climate solutions—said he had truly expected the subject of climate change at last to come up. In this final, foreign-policy focused debate, Inglis thought, a climate-centered exchange between the candidates might have come more naturally than in the US domestic context, where pocketbook issues predominate..."It was a missed opportunity to recognize action on energy and climate," said Inglis, "which is clearly related to foreign policy." [“Why No One Said the C Word,” Chris Mooney, Mother Jones,10/23/12]

Erika Bolstad Of McClatchy Newspapers Notes That Climate Change Has ‘Disappeared’. “For the first time since the topic surfaced in a presidential race in 1988, nominees made no mention of climate change during the prime-time television debates this year between the presidential contenders themselves or their running mates. Debate moderators also chose not to ask President Barack Obama nor former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney about the issue, despite a clamor by climate activists and some not-so-gentle prodding on the part of pundits and scientists." [“Climate Change Disappears as Debate Topic,” Erika Bolstad, The Sacramento Bee, 10/24/12]

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tallies The Numbers, Finds That Climate Was Not Uttered In 70,000 Words By The Debate Moderators/Candidates. “This month, the national major-party candidates gathered for four debates -- three featuring President Obama and Mitt Romney, one featuring Vice President Biden and Paul Ryan -- that spanned over six hours. Tally up the transcripts, and you'll find that roughly 70,000 words were uttered by the candidates and the moderators. But the words "climate change" and "global warming" were not among them. The painful irony is that as the climate crisis grows more serious, the issue is generating less discussion, not more -- 2012 is the first campaign cycle since 1984 in which the issue wasn't raised at all during the national debates.” [“When climate science becomes climate silence,” Rachel Maddow, Maddow Blog, 10/24/12]

The New York Times’ Justin Gillis Calls Climate ‘The Issue That Dare Not Speak Its Name.’ “Throughout the campaign, the candidates have talked a great deal about energy, but it has essentially been a competition in who could heap the most praise on fossil fuels. They tended to avoid any explicit linkage between their energy proposals and climate risk.” [“The Issue That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” Justin Gillis, The New York Times, 10/24/12]

The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer Summarizes A Debate Between Romney and Obama Surrogates That Actually Mentions Climate: Romney Surrogate Says Climate Change ‘Not At The Top’ Of Romney Agenda. Plumer Laments That Candidates Didn’t Partake In Such a Debate. “Here’s the key quote from Cass, who was asked whether Romney would try to persuade other Republicans to find ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: Well, I think, frankly, that that’s not where Governor Romney would put his emphasis...with respect to a legislative agenda, moving forward, climate change would not be at the top of it.”..“The full debate’s worth watching (or reading). It’s just too bad that we couldn’t get the actual candidates involved in a discussion like this.” [“Want a more substantive Obama-Romney debate on energy and climate? Read this,” Brad Plumer, The Washington Post, 10/24/12]

Politico Story Notes Ironic Timing Of Hurricane Sandy Amidst Climate Silence. "How's this for some election-year timing: The East Coast faces the real possibility of taking a battering next week from a "perfect storm" roaring in from the Atlantic — right at the tail end of a campaign in which President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and their debate moderators have all drawn criticism for avoiding discussion of climate change." ["Hurricane Sandy: The next climate wake-up call?," Andrew Restuccia, Politico, 10/24/12]

Blogger A. Siegel, Remarking On ‘Deafening’ Climate Silence, Asks If Climate Change-Fueled Hurricane Sandy Will ‘Shatter the Silence’“In a Presidential election where the political parties’ (and Presidential candidates) perspectives on science (climate science especially) could not be more starkly different, where the nation has seen significant impacts from climate disruption, where climate disruption events have strengthened Americans understanding of climate change and concerns over it, and where analytical work shows climate change discussion favors politicians on the side of science if they engage in discussing climate issues, the stunning climate silence has been deafening.” [“Is Mother Nature revving up an October surprise (w/human thumbs on the scale)?, Get Energy Smart Now, 10/25/12]

New Republic Piece Asks, ‘Why Won’t Obama Or Romney Talk Climate Change?’ “Any one of the four debate moderators this year could have lifted verbatim the question moderator Jon Margolis asked in 1988, opening with the summer’s heat, explaining that climate change “could, in a couple of generations, threaten our descendants’ comfort and health and perhaps even their existence” and asking the candidates, “What would you urge our governments to do to deal with this problem?” Neither the moderators nor the candidates felt the need to throw a bone to, in Candy Crowley’s words, “you climate change people.” While it’s disappointing enough that, despite an untoward amount of begging and groveling from environmental groups, climate change wasn’t mentioned, it might have been more unnerving to hear how little progress politicians have made in figuring out what to do about it.” [“Why Won’t Obama Or Romney Talk Climate Change,” Sarah Laskow, The New Republic, 10/25/12]

New York Times Piece Concludes That Neither Obama Nor Romney Has Presented A Clear Plan To Tackle Climate Change For The Future. “Mr. Obama has supported broad climate change legislation, financed extensive clean energy projects and pushed new regulations to reduce global warming emissions from cars and power plants. But neither he nor Mr. Romney has laid out during the campaign a legislative or regulatory program to address the fundamental questions arising from one of the most vexing economic, environmental, political and humanitarian issues to face the planet. Should the United States cut its greenhouse gas emissions, and, if so, how far and how fast? Should fossil fuels be more heavily taxed? Should any form of clean energy be subsidized, and for how long? Should the United States lead international mitigation efforts? Should the nation pour billions of new dollars into basic energy research? Is the climate system so fraught with uncertainty that the rational response is to do nothing?” [“Both Romney and Obama Avoid Talk of Climate Change,” John M. Broder, The New York Times, 10/25/12]

Associated Press Story Reviews Major Issues, Including Climate Change, Left On ‘Election Sidelines’. “The 2012 presidential campaign, not just the debates, has focused heavily from the start on jobs, pushing other once high-profile issues to the sidelines. It dismays activists who have spent decades promoting environmental issues, gay rights, gun control and other topics, sometimes managing to lift them to the top tiers of national attention and debate.” [“Obama, Mitt Romney Largely Leave Guns, Gay Rights, and Climate Change On Election Sidelines,” Charles Babington, The Huffington Post, 10/25/12]

NPR Story Delves Into Climate Silence, Comparing Obama And Romney’s 2012 Positions With Past Statements. "We have a president who ran in 2008 on trying to solve global warming, and he hasn't mentioned it at all on the campaign trail," says Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action. Pica has kind things to say about Obama's policy to make cars more energy-efficient, his renewable energy push and other actions that will slow the nation's carbon emissions. But it's not enough to make a serious dent in global warming. Pica says climate should be a top issue in this presidential campaign, not stuck near the bottom of the list, where it is now.” [“In A Shift From 2008 Race, Obama’s Hush On Climate,” Richard Harris, NPR, 10/25/2012]

Duke University Energy Expert Tim Profeta Writes On Historic ‘Failure’ To Mention Climate Change. “The final foreign-policy-focused presidential debate made history Monday when candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama failed to mention climate change. Despite historic drought and record melting of Arctic sea ice, failure to visit the topic marked the first time since the 1980s climate change hasn't come up in a presidential debate. Some argued the climate should have come up, as almost every major international issue -- food prices, military operations and energy access -- have an embedded climate component. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience in Georgetown recently, energy, climate and foreign policy are all really deeply intertwined.” [“The Climate Post: Romney, Obama Make History With Failure to Mention Climate Change in Last Debate,” Tim Profeta, Huffington Post, 10/26/12]

Writing For Climate Access, David Minkow Reviews What Candidates Should Have Said About Climate Change in 2012. “Our lives and prosperity depend upon a stable climate. We are able to grow abundant food, drink fresh water and develop as a civilization because our planet features relatively consistent weather patterns. So, as the scientists have been telling us for quite a while now, it’s a big problem that our climate is becoming less and less stable. In the last few years, we’ve had more extreme weather events than ever in our history, costing America more than ever to deal with the consequences. And as you may have noticed, our weather is not what it used to be, from ponds no longer freezing each winter to planting and harvesting times out of whack.” [“Filling the Silence: What the Candidates Should Have Said (Had They Been Asked A Climate Question At the Debates”, David Minkow, Climate Access, 10/26/12]

The Nation Comments That Climate’s Absence From The Election ‘Rolls Back The Clock 28 Years.’ 103: Number of times the national “debt” or federal budget “deficit” was directly mentioned by the moderator or candidates
0: Number of times the term “climate change” was spoken or even indirectly referenced That, over the course of six televised hours of discussion, talk of the former was so dominant and talk of the latter was conspicuously absent is striking. All this non-talk about climate change has even spawned, as is common nowadays, an Internet meme: Climate Silence. As others have pointed out, the lack of any climate change discussion effectively rolled back the clock 28 years; 1984 being the last election the topic did not get an airing during a vice presidential or presidential debate. (Even more frightening in terms of how far our current discourse has regressed on this issue—in 1988, the Democratic and Republican VP hopefuls both acknowledged climate change and agreed it deserved action to mitigate it.) [“Climate Change Freeze Out,” Reed Richardson, The Nation, 10/26/12]

Green Energy Blogger K Kaufmann Asks Whether Hurricane Sandy Will Force Obama, Romney To Talk Climate Change. “Certainly in the coming days, Obama and Romney will make statements on the storm — sympathy and promises of help for the victims, rallying cries for the country to come together. What we really need to hear is how they are going to meet the mounting challenges of climate change and prepare the nation for the perfect storm of environmental, economic and social upheavals that may lie ahead.” [“Hurricane Sandy: Will Obama and Romney Talk About Climate Change Now?”, K. Kaufmann, The Green Energy Blog, 10/27/12]

New Orleans Times-Picayune Writer Covers Large Coalition Of Environmental Organizations Criticizing Climate Silence. “"The climate silence in the 2012 campaign is deafening," said Aaron Viles, deputy director of the Gulf Restoration Network. "I was hoping debate moderators would ask the candidates specific questions about their plans to address or not address global warming, but they didn't, and the candidates chose to use the questions about energy policy to compete over who would allow the most hydrocarbons to be accessed the quickest, not discuss our need to get moving on reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Viles said.” [“Environmentalist complains presidential race hasn’t included climate change debate”, Bruce Alpert, NOLA, 10/27/12]

Tom Zeller, Jr. Calls Climate Silence ‘A Discouraging Milestone,’ Particularly In Light Of Hurricane Sandy. “For environmentalists -- and many ordinary Americans -- it seemed a rather discouraging milestone, particularly as a gargantuan super-storm -- of the sort that virtually all climate scientists have been warning for years would increase in frequency as the planet warmed -- threatens to slam headlong into the East Coast in a couple days' time. "Hurricane Sandy," wrote Daniel Honan at BigThink.com, "Mother Nature's revenge on the 2012 election?" Phil Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace USA, suggested the absence of high level discussion of climate change at the debates was inexcusable. "I just think it's irresponsible for our leaders to not address one of the biggest challenges facing our generation," he said in a phone call on Friday. "It's one of the biggest security threats we have -- it's a threat to agriculture, it threatens our economy. And to simply not talk about it is one of the biggest failures of our leadership."” [“The Politics of Climate Silence”, Tom Zeller Jr., The Huffington Post, 10/27/12]

NPR’s Adam Frank Writes That Climate Change Disappeared From Presidential Election Dialogue. “It was not a good year for people, weather and climate. The winter was strangely warm in many places and the summer ridiculously hot. As a large fraction of the country suffered through extreme or even extraordinary drought many folks naturally wondered, "Is this climate change?" Then along came a presidential election in which the words "climate change" disappeared from the dialogue. Now, just a week or so before voting day, the convergence of westbound Hurricane Sandy with a eastbound cold front is creating a massive storm, a Frankenstorm even, that is threatening millions of Americans. Weird weather is making yet another appearance in our lives and once again we ask, "Is this climate change?"” [“Frankenstorm: Has Climate Change Created a Monster?”, Adam Frank, NPR, 10/28/12]

After Noting Climate Change’s Absence From Presidential Debates, Nathan Currier Of The Climate Reality Project Calls Hurricane Sandy Climate Change’s ‘Take That!’ Moment. “Now, along comes Sandy, who says to Candy, "Okay, then, take that!" See, Sandy doesn't get into debating these things, either. Now, let's see what Sandy's bill ends up being -- anyone taking bets? -- then let's sit down and talk some economy. In fact, there's an idea: Maybe a new American pastime could be organized 'disaster gambling,' with states collecting revenue as everyone bets on the tab for each new upcoming climate change disaster in their respective states?” [“Climate Change Sandy Says to US: ‘Take That, Idiots!’”, Nathan Currier, The Huffington Post, 10/28/12]

American Geophysical Union CEO Christine McEntee Makes A Powerful Plea To End Climate Silence. “When the candidates for President of the United States leave a crucial issue like climate change out of their campaigns and debates they show a critical disregard for the importance this issue will have in shaping our nation’s future and influencing our economic health and national security. Further, they miss an important opportunity to inform voters on both the challenges and opportunities posed by addressing climate change, and what those impacts mean for communities and families across the country. As a nation we need to be exploring and investigating all the various options for addressing America’s climate challenges, but we cannot successfully do so when the people we look to lead our nation seem dismissive of the critical nature of those challenges.” [“What Is Climate Silence Costing Us?,” Christine McEntee, National Journal, 10/29/12 ]

Southern California Public Radio Writes That Climate’s Fleeting Mention At Party Conventions Was The Moment Climate Coverage ‘Peaked’ In 2012 Race. “Climate change peaked as a campaign issue around the August political conventions. In Charlotte, President Obama acknowledged its existence...In Tampa, Governor Romney brought up climate science too…so that he could mock his opponent and dismiss the issue...Two thirds of American voters say climate change is an important problem. But we have heard little about what Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would do about it.”[“For all the hot air, little of substance on climate change in presidential election,” Molly Petersen, KPCC, 10/29/12]

Media Mogul Arianna Huffington Considers Whether Hurricane Sandy Tragedy Will Serve As Unifying Moment To End Climate Silence. “But our election season is drawing to a close without any serious discussion about climate change. "The irony is that the two presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, and now they are seeing the climate speak to them," said Mike Tidwell, director of Maryland's Chesapeake Climate Action Network and author of the 2006 climate change book, The Ravaging Tide. "That's really what's happening here. The climate is now speaking to them -- and to everyone else." Michael Mann, physicist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State says that, while we can't conclusively blame any one storm on climate change, "we can see that climate change is playing a role in setting the context for these storms, in particular the record levels of North Atlantic ocean warmth that is available to feed these storms with energy and moisture." And according to research by the German reinsurance company Munich Re, there's been "a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades." Last month, a report issued by Yale and George Mason universities found that 74 percent of American people believe that "global warming is affecting weather in the United States." And that was before Hurricane Sandy.” [“How Hurricane Sandy Downgraded the Election and Upgraded Our Barn-Raising Spirit”, Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, 10/30/2012 ]

Time Magazine’s Bryan Walsh Says Hurricane Sandy Forced Climate Change ‘Back Into Relevancy.’ “After a campaign season in which it was the missing in action issue, climate change roared back into relevancy in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Bill McKibben, the writer-turned-activist behind 350.org, put it in stark terms. “This is an absolutely unprecedented storm,” he told POLITICO on Monday evening. “This entire year should be a seriously wake-up call—and the public’s beginning to get it.”” [“Climate Change and Sandy: Why We Need to Prepare for a Warmer World”, Bryan Walsh, Time, 10/30/2012]

Writing For The San Jose Mercury News, Ryan Teague Beckwith And Jason Fields Ask Whether Hurricane Sandy Will Return Climate Change To The Radar. “Climate change was decidedly not a question in the 2012 elections. For the first time since 1988, the topic did not come up in any of the presidential or vice presidential debates. (An MTV interviewer did ask Obama, however.) Commentators drew a line between the "Frankenstorm" and climate change. So did some politicians. But it remains to be seen whether the storm will drive more interest in legislation addressing the issue.” [“Could Hurricane Sandy Put Climate Change Back On The Radar?”, Ryan Teague Beckwith and Jason Fields, Mercury News, 10/30/12 ]

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm Criticizes Presidential Candidates And Debate Moderators For Not Bringing Up Climate Change. “There’s a clear link to climate change. And, yet, for the first time in over a quarter century, climate change was not brought up even once at the presidential debates.” [“Jennifer Granholm: Hurricane Sandy Linked To Climate Change,” Patrick Gavin, Politico, 10/30/12]

SNL Head Writer Seth Meyers Compares Climate Silence To Ignoring Steroid Use In Baseball, Says 'We Are In The Steroid Era Of Storms.' “None of the debates did they mention climate change. I feel like every 6 months the worst thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world happens weather wise. And I feel like we're going to look back on this time the way baseball fans in the nineties, were like, ‘No, nobody’s using steroids’. We are in the steroid era of storms. ” [“Television News Starts Covering The Link Between Climate Change and Superstorm Sandy”, Stephen Lacey, Think Progress, 10/31/12]

After Climate Change-Fueled Hurricane Sandy Devastates New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg Calls For A President Who Will ‘Lead On Climate Change.’ “The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.” [“A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change, Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg, 11/1/2012]

Environmental Defense Fund Senior Vice President Eric Pooley Demands 'Steady Attention' Against Climate Silence. "After a year of extreme heat, drought, floods, and storms that were almost never explicitly connected to climate change, at least not in the media or by politicians, that silence is beginning to crumble." "Sandy might mark the beginning of an important shift in the political dynamic—but that will only happen if the conversation that started this week is given steady attention, not one brief spasm after a horrendous storm. A great many people have been hiding from this issue for the last couple of years—elected officials, civic and business leaders, journalists, folks who were just tired of arguing about it. It's time for them to speak up. If the Indiana lineman and so many others like him keep talking the way they have, if local officials and grassroots activists and faith leaders and business people and first responders and insurance agents all join in, politicians from both parties will conclude that it is to their political advantage to talk about climate change as well. If we demand it, our leaders will have to follow." ["'I Thought We’d Already Answered That Question': Will Politicians Keep Talking About Climate Change?" Eric Pooley, New Republic, 11/4/12]

Wrapping Up His Election Coverage For Slate, Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer Derides Global Warming’s Absence. “Hurricane Sandy, which while surely not exclusively a result of global warming, highlights the attention we must pay to climate change. Each of these issues was skipped over for unfortunate political reasons, yet we ignore them at our long-term peril. Whoever governs starting in January—and I am still quite sure it will be President Obama—will have to push back against the political voices who argue to ignore these critical issues. Delay is the enemy of progress.” ["The Two Critical Issues Romney and Obama Willfully Ignored,” Eliot Spitzer, Slate, 11/5/12]

Major Obama Donor Kathy Washienko Criticizes President's 'Climate Silence.' In a New York Times article about the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Democratic donor Kathy Washienko criticized the president's climate silence. "Mr. Obama has in the meantime heard from many of his campaign contributors. Kathy Washienko, a major Democratic donor from Seattle, said she “struggled” ahead of the 2012 election: 'Should I not support Obama at the level I had in 2008, to convey my discontent with his relative climate silence?'" ["Campaigning Again, for Obama to Say ‘No’," Sarah Wheaton, The New York Times, 10/3/13]