On September 4th, Democratic presidential contenders made history with their participation in back-to-back climate focused town halls in New York City. For seven hours, one after another, the ten Democrats vying for the party’s presidential nomination spoke on the subject of the climate crisis. All ten of these candidates have put forth climate plans and this represents a historic shift for the party and the country. They all agree about the veracity of anthropogenic climate change and the need for consorted action. This is in stark contrast to the current president and most GOP legislators, who equivocate about the veracity or deny it outright.
Andrew Yang indicated he wants to re-calibrate gross domestic product (GDP) by incorporating metrics that assess environmental variables. “Let’s upgrade it with a new score card that includes our environmental sustainability and our goals,” Yang said. He also said, “You should not be stressed out about the water that you are drinking, the water your kids are drinking, this is again the problem of having the almighty dollar running our society, where people look up and say replacing the pipes is too expensive, using another substance is expensive, are you kidding me, you know what is expensiveness poisoning our kids.”
Elizabeth Warren pulled no punches when it came to the fossil fuel industry and other
corporate interests, saying these interests want us to focus on smaller
issues like light bulbs and plastic straws to distract us from focusing
on the real issue which is their contributions to the climate crisis. Warren explained, “You don’t get to ruin the air for everyone else, the water for everyone else, the soil for everyone else, we don’t, just to help giant corporations. They don’t get to make our kids sick they don’t get to shorten lifespans because it increases their profitability.”
Kamala Harris said that if she were elected president she would direct the Department of Justice to go after oil and gas companies. They are causing harm and death in communities. And there has been no accountability.” She also called out GOP legislators, “Every one of those [Republican members of Congress] need to look at the babies and grand-babies in their life and then look in the mirror and ask themselves why have they failed to act because on the issue of this climate crisis, I am going to tell you, I strongly believe this is a fight against powerful interests, and leaders need to lead, so lead, follow or get out the way, and get out the way starting with Donald Trump”
Bernie Sanders said, “we are the most powerful country on Earth we
should be leading an energy transition and you have a president who
thinks its not real that is idiotic”.
Pete Buttigieg said, “Congress right now is like a room full of doctors arguing about what to do over a cancer patient and half of them are arguing whether medication or surgery is the best approach and the other half are saying cancer doesn’t exist. Think of what a disservice, this is a life or death issue.” He did not make light of the scale of the problem we face. Buttigieg said combating the climate crisis will be “more challenging than” winning WW II and the “hardest thing we will have done in my lifetime as a country.”
Amy Klobuchar criticized the Trump administration’s decision to kill methane regulations calling it “very dangerous”. She also said, “We need environmental justice in this country.”
Julián Castro also referred to the need to assist the economically disadvantaged especially people of color who bear the brunt of climate impacts. He argued for “new civil rights legislation” to address environmental racism in minority communities. Castro also said, “As we experience more storms with more intensity we will take the right steps to prevent climate change so that wont happen, but then when it does, if it does, to address it no matter who you are and make it affordable in part through that national flood insurance program”
Beto O’Rourke sounded fatalistic as his thoughts focused on climate adaptation, “In the year 2100…this planet will have warned 4.5 – 5 Celsius, as scientists say at that point we are screwed.” He said he would spend federal dollars to help people move from flood prone areas.
Cory Booker said that while he will not try to change what people eat he will employ nuclear power in the fight against climate change. According to Booker people who reject nuclear, “just aren’t looking at the facts”. He also said “If you elect me your president I am going to ask more from you than any other president in your lifetime because I grew up from parents who taught me if there is not struggle there is no progress. We can ignite that moral imagination of this country and we can deal with this problem as big as it may seem it is not bigger than who we are as a people together.”
Joe Biden‘s can-do message optimistically declared, “This is the United States of America there is not a damn thing we’ve not been able to accomplish once we set our mind to it”