What a difference four years makes.
In 2008, during the second presidential debate--a town hall format similar to what we witnessed a few days ago--an audience member asked the two candidates: "I want to know what you would do within the first two years to make sure that Congress moves fast as far as environmental issues, like climate change and green jobs?"
In response, John McCain and Barack Obama both acknowledged the reality of global warming. Obama said it is "one of the biggest challenges of our times" and called for investments in solar, wind and geothermal technologies.
Last Wednesday, both presidential candidates were asked a less direct question. It was an ill-informed one about the Department of Energy's role in lowering gasoline prices, but it opened the door for both candidates to discuss energy issues--and climate change. But instead of reminding Americans about the threat posed by continuing our reliance on fossil fuels, Gov. Romney and President Obama jousted over the price of gasoline--which a president can't control--and bickered over who would do a better job promotingcoal, oil and natural gas.
Yes, Obama did mention "clean" energy technologies as part of his "all of the above" strategy, and Romney said he "believe[s] very much in our renewable capabilities."
And yes, although the first two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate skirted the climate change issue, Romney and Obama did have a brief, heated exchange on it at their respective party conventions and have mentioned it sporadically on the campaign trail.
But given the audience nationally televised debates attract--and the importance of this issue to theeconomy, public health and the future of the planet--scientists, environmentalists and public officials have been urging debate moderators and the two candidates to address it directly.
So far, that hasn't happened.
There is one more debate, however, and appropriately, it will be held in Florida.
Why do I say "appropriately"?
When Romney gave his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, he criticized Obama for promising " to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet."
"My promise," he continued, "is to help you and your family."
The line was a reference to a statement Obama made in 2008 after winning the Democratic presidential nomination. "I am absolutely certain that generations from now," he said, "we will be able to look back and tell our children ... this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."
Read the rest at Huffington Post.