US Presidential Candidates' First Televised Debate - will climate change and action get a mention?

Will climate change - or renewables - get a mention in the first of the US Presidential televised live debates tonight?
If tonight's first televised lives debate between the US presidential candidates is anything like previous UK TV hustings climate change won't get a look in - let alone a mention. US voter and blogger ETHAN MILLER takes a personal overview of what they likely won't be saying
The Yale Program on Climate Change Communications reports that 14% of overall voters have ranked climate change as the most important issue

Climate change and global warming discussions always end in heated debates, and I couldn't help but wonder - will it be too late by the time we all agree that global warming is a serious threat and take necessary measures to improve the situation, whatever the outcome of this election?

When Donald Trump tweeted "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive", it attracted hundreds of responses from people who called him ‘insane' and ‘not fit to be our President'. Of course, there were his supporters (let's call them Trumpets) who begged to differ. To me, that comment was baseless and didn't make sense, much like building the great wall of Mexico.

I keep a weather eye on the climate news and events and so wasn't skeptical when Hillary Clinton said "climate change is an urgent threat and a sweeping collection of challenges we face as a nation and a world."

It's hard to deny the unusual weather conditions recorded around the globe, and it is impossible to ignore the contribution of man-made events to the changes that we are seeing. In the wake of recent events, 600 residents from the Alaskan village of Shishmaref relocated due to the shrinking coastlines. That's a big problem now, and a poignant reply to Trump's "I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it's the weather." claim.

Do people really care?

The Yale program on climate change communication has reported that 56% of Trump supporters and a whopping 92% of Hillary's supporters believe in climate change and global warming, and are tilted to vote for the one who takes active measures towards the environment. The same report published that 14% of overall voters have ranked climate change as the most important issue. Ultimately then, the election results could be deeply impacted by the climate voters.  

Environmental activist Tom Steyer stated that the presidential candidates must get their facts straight as they cannot avoid climate change questions with statements like "I'm not a scientist". And, as Hillary rightly points out, "the ones who say they're not scientists must start talking to those who are."


Paris Climate Agreement

Hillary has been positive towards the Paris agreement and if elected, she has pledged to move Obama's Clean Power Plan forward. She praised President Obama's decision and said she is proud that we shaped a global climate agreement, and every country including the US will be held accountable to their commitments.

Trump, however, had opposed the Paris climate agreement since he believed that it allows other countries to control the energy usage in the US. He worried that such an agreement favored and would empower other nations like China. Trump has made a bold statement that if elected, he would cancel the Paris agreement and stop the flow of US Tax money to UN Global warming programs within 100 days.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communications reports that 14% of overall voters have ranked climate change as the most important issue


Active Measures

Climate change has some unforgiving effects like rising sea levels, melting ice caps, droughts, storms and sudden wildfires wreaking havoc. We need a president who understands this.

Hillary, who once was an ambassador of "fracking", has lately reconsidered and is willing to invest in measures to control fuel extraction and cut down greenhouse gas emissions by over 30% by 2025. The clean energy initiative will create millions of jobs across the US and will empower an industry of renewable energy i.e. - solar, wind, advanced biofuels, cleaner power plants, smart electric grids and greener buildings. That's sure to help make the US the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.   

In June 2015, Trump took a minor detour by saying "I do not completely deny the man-made impact" but also said,  "but it's not a big problem as the planet is big and other countries are doing nothing about it." These aren't responsible words from someone of his stature, but are business thoughts that solely chase after power and profits, while entirely disregarding the environment.

Surely there's enough research on global warming and climate change to consider it a very real threat to our environment. Scientists have published readings and findings that are readily accessible to anyone who's interested to know more.


The Turnaround

The Presidential campaign has heated up with Trump as the final Republican nominee (thanks to the Trumpets). Since then, a group of Republicans are now supporting Hillary to beat Trump.

Doug Elmets, former aide of President Ronald Reagan has openly quoted "Trump is unhinged and totally unfit to be president". As we close in on the general election, Republican fundraiser Meg Whitman and representative Richard Hanna have also turned their backs on Trump. It's interesting to see how one event could change the way people think.

Former candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain have extended their support to Clinton and said that being associated with Trump will do further damage to the Republicans.  

While in the Democrats camp, Bernie Sanders who stood against Hillary has now urged his supporters to come together and take down Trump. "We have got to defeat Donald Trump," pleaded Sanders to his supporters on a day when the East Coast temperatures had risen to 120 degree Fahrenheit, measuring it as the hottest day ever in Philadelphia.   


Prioritizing Climate

The UN Human Rights Council has prioritized climate negotiations in protecting communities. Also, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) has designated climate as high priority for the Latinos as they face some of the major environmental problems.

The countries that believe in climate threats are going all out, taking the required measures. As of now, the United States is equally active in tackling this global issue, so much that the Obama Government had highlighted climate change in its list of top priorities during his second term.

We know that Obama has always supported measures to curb climate change and shape a global climate agreement. His recent actions of rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, and signing the Paris Climate Agreement, have etched his name as a true Environmentalist.


My Verdict

We've heard the two views on climate change, where one ridicules the visible events with mockery while the other supports the claims with facts, and a future plan to combat it. If I had to make my choice right now solely on commitment to climate goals, I'd stand with Hillary Clinton!

Trump says climate change is a hoax but he's wrong and in any event, hard to trust such remarks from someone who has faced bankruptcy four times and yet claims that he will turn around the US economy for good.


This Author:

Ecologist New Voices contributor Ethan Miller is a private ESL teacher who also works as an online tutor. He holds a degree in creative writing.

*The first televised live debate between the candidates will air tonight in the US at 9pm - which is 2am UK time.