Put Climate Change on the Agenda at Presidential Debates

Target: Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, and Chris Wallace, news anchors and upcoming presidential debate moderators

Goal: Give climate change the spotlight it deserves in the next two presidential debates.

Hilary Clinton’s emails, Donald Trumps sexism, his failure to release his tax returns, both candidates’ temperaments – all these are examples of topics that got more coverage in the first 2016 presidential debate than arguably the most important topic of all: climate change. It is unfortunate in this election cycle, where neither candidate scores particularly high in likability, that the public has given so much attention to what kind of people our candidates are, and all but forgotten to care about what kinds of actions they will take as president. In the September 26th debate, Clinton identified nuclear weapons as the single greatest threat facing our planet, and Trump quickly agreed with her – though he also called her out, adding “not global warming, like you think and your… president thinks.”

Of course we should not discount the threat posed by nuclear armament, but climate change arguably poses a much more pervasive, more immediate, and equally dire threat to our planet. In recent years we have already seen the first climate refugees, not to mention countless deaths due to climate events. Add to that the fact that our freshwater and food systems are in jeopardy, and it becomes a lot less funny that Donald Trump would write a tweet identifying global warming as a concept invented “by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Trump has also threatened to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement in his first 100 days in office. Clinton, for her part, has spoken out calling climate change an “urgent threat” which “requires an aggressive response,” and has outlined her intent to make the U.S. the clean energy superpower of the 21st century. They both need to be held to their word, under the spotlight of the 2016 presidential debates.

Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper will co-moderate the town hall debate coming up on October 9th in St. Louis, and Chris Wallace will moderate the final debate on October 19th in Las Vegas. There isn’t much time to convince them of the urgent need for dialogue on this issue. The candidates need to debate their plans for dealing with climate change while the whole country watches, and public pressure is high – but they will not grapple with such difficult questions if the moderators give them an out. Tell Miss Raddatz, Mr. Cooper, and Mr. Wallace now that they must ask the candidates to defend their positions on climate change.


Dear Sirs and Madam,

The first presidential debate of 2016 was a spectacle, to say the least. But in my mind, the most embarrassing aspect of the September 26th debate was not Trump’s sniffles, or Clinton being called out for her email scandal – it was the mere 82 seconds devoted to climate change. That 82 seconds is not enough. Climate change, and its manifold impacts, may be the most serious issue that our next president will have to grapple with, whether they take a preventative approach or merely seek to mitigate crises as they arise.

Both Clinton and Trump have made some strong statements about climate change, and they should be held to their words on the debate stage. The public needs to hear both candidates defend their stances on climate change, and present their plans, if indeed they have any. Use the spotlight granted by the upcoming debates in St. Louis and Las Vegas. In your position as moderator, you must ask the candidates to debate on the topic of climate change.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Krassotkin

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    climate ‘change’ was manmade not nature made!

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