Climate Change

Issues ››› Climate Change
  • Will Climate Change Come Up In The Second Presidential Debate?

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    By any reasonable measure, climate change is a serious issue that is worthy of significant attention during the presidential debates. Yet as our debate scorecard documented, the topic was ignored by the moderators of the first presidential debate and the vice-presidential debate, further heightening the need for ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper to lead a substantial climate discussion when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off on October 9.

    Global warming is having profound and wide-ranging impacts in the United States, and a climate question would be just as relevant to a discussion about national security, the economy, or public health as it would be to a discussion about environmental protection. And as climate scientist Michael Mann recently pointed out, climate change meets all the key criteria for a debate question:

    Indeed, the stakes for climate action are high this election year, and the gulf between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the issue is massive.

    The Obama administration has taken many important steps to combat climate change, including the Clean Power Plan, which sets the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants, and the historic international agreement to cut global emissions reached in Paris, which was recently ratified by enough countries to formally take effect. But the next president could either help these climate policies come to fruition or try to undercut them.

    Clinton has said she will “[d]efend, implement, and extend” key climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan, and “deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference.” Trump, meanwhile, has said he will “cancel” the Paris climate agreement, “rescind” the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan, initiate a “targeted review” of the Clean Power Plan, and dismantle the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    Americans deserve to hear more detailed explanations of these proposals, and the upcoming debates provide the best and most high-profile opportunities before Election Day for that conversation to occur. But it can’t be taken for granted. In 2012, the presidential candidates were not asked about climate change in any of the general election debates. And this cycle, Trump has yet to field a single climate change question through one general election debate and 11 GOP primary debates (he skipped one).

    The story is much the same throughout the country, as our scorecard shows. Through the first 21 debates in the presidential election and closely-contested Senate and governors’ races, only two debates -- in New Hampshire and Vermont -- have included questions about climate change. Like the presidential election, these races could also have climate consequences. Newly-elected senators could propose new climate legislation, or they could seek to block the EPA from limiting carbon pollution. And newly-elected governors could either work constructively with the EPA, or fight tooth and nail against implementing the Clean Power Plan.

    Thankfully, it’s not too late for citizens to make their voices heard and convince moderators to ask about climate change in upcoming debates. The nonprofit and nonpartisan Open Debate Coalition notes that the ABC and CNN moderators of the next presidential debate have “agreed to consider the Top 30 questions voted up” on the coalition’s website. The following climate-related questions are currently among the top 30 vote-getters:

    Citizens can also request climate change questions in several Senate and governors’ debates. In Arizona, Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, has an online form for submitting questions ahead of the October 10 Senate debate. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association told Media Matters that citizens can suggest questions on Twitter during the October 14 Senate debate, using the hashtag #wbadebate. In Ohio, WBNS-10TV is accepting video questions that may appear during its October 17 Senate debate. In Vermont, roundtable organizers will be crowdsourcing questions on Twitter in advance of the October 17 governors’ debate using the hashtag #innov802. And in Indiana, the Indiana Debate Commission has an online form for submitting questions for all of the state’s Senate and gubernatorial debates.

    We’ll be continuing to update the scorecard with additional information about upcoming debates right up until Election Day -- including an update soon on whether climate change comes up at the October 9 presidential debate.

  • Univision Scolds Conservative Media For Their Conspiracy Theories About Climate Change

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative media’s conspiracy theory that liberals “exaggerated” the threat of Hurricane Matthew for political purposes was a “ridiculous” speculation at “the limits of irresponsibility,” reported Univision.com.

    The October 6 Univision.com article called out conservative commentators Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh for pushing the false claim that “the American left exaggerated the threat that the hurricane represents in order to convince people that climate change exists.” The Category 4 hurricane has already killed hundreds of Haitians and one Florida resident. The Univision.com article noted that “conspiracy theories about climate change -- an indisputable phenomenon according to the scientific world -- are commonplace in the United States, including in political spheres,” recalling a tweet by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump where he wrote that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Univision.com called the claims “ridiculous” and explained that “there is no evidence that [Trump’s] claim is true.”

    In the past, conservative media have misleadingly attempted to rally Latinos and other minorities around their anti-environment agenda, despite the fact that climate change disproportionately affects people of color. In fact, Latino Americans are very concerned about climate change, and are more likely than whites to agree that global warming is caused by human activities.

    Translated from the October 6 article:

    Its destructive path through the Caribbean -- with almost 300 dead in Haiti --, doesn’t matter, nor the prediction of scientists, nor the desperate call from the Florida governor, a Republican, for citizens to safeguard their lives.

    In the eyes of some conservative commentators, the invisible hand of liberals operated behind the powerful Hurricane Matthew, a climate phenomenon that triggered a massive evacuation on the east coast of Florida as had not been experienced in over a decade.

    Matt Drudge, a famous conservative and sensationalist commentator, insinuated that the American left exaggerated the threat that the hurricane represents in order to convince people that climate change exists.

    [...]

    The conspiracy theories about climate change -- an indisputable phenomenon according to the scientific world -- are commonplace in the United States, including in political spheres.

    There are Republicans who deny that it is real. [Presidential] candidate Donald Trump is one of them: in 2012 he wrote on Twitter that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

    [...]

    Matt Drudge’s commentary was ridiculed by various media outlets who branded him as being “irresponsible.” Furthermore, there is no evidence that his claim is true.

    [...]

    Another ultra-conservative commentator who took on the responsibility of feeding the conspiracy theories about Hurricane Matthew was Rush Limbaugh.

    On his radio program, he said this week that “it’s in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change, which they can continue desperately continue trying to sell.”

    As ridiculous as the claims may be, they should not be taken lightly. Commentators like Limbaugh and Drudge have the ears of millions of followers who can come to downplay the importance and the seriousness that the Hurricane represents.

    And not taking seriously a climate phenomenon can be a matter of life and death for millions of people who decide to believe the conspiratorial fantasies and not pay attention to the recommendations of authorities.

  • Matt Drudge Peddles Irresponsible Conspiracy Theory Downplaying Deadly Hurricane Matthew

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    As millions evacuate the east coast of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, which has already been responsible for more than 113 deaths across the Caribbean, the curator of the most widely read conservative website, Matt Drudge, irresponsibly peddled a conspiracy theory that federal officials have exaggerated the danger posed by Hurricane Matthew “to make exaggerated point on climate.”

    On October 6, Drudge claimed “the deplorables” were wondering if the government was lying about the intensity of the deadly hurricane and also questioned the legitimacy of the National Hurricane Center’s data:

    [Twitter, 10/6/16]


    [Twitter, 10/6/16]

    Drudge also used his website, one of the most widely read sites on the internet, DrudgeReport.com to put Florida residents in danger and push the conspiracy theory with a banner titled “STORM FIZZLE? MATTHEW LOOKS RAGGED!,” alongside links titled “IT’S A 4?” and “RESIDENTS NOT TAKING SERIOUSLY...”.

    In direct contrast to Drudge, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott warned those in the hurricane’s path that “this storm will kill you,” while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) described the storm as “dangerous.” Fox News host Shepard Smith warned Floridians that if they did not evacuate “you and everyone you know is dead,” and that “you can’t survive it,” while The National Weather Service for Melbourne, Florida warned residents that the storm was “LIFE-THREATENING,” and “more impacting than Hurricane David and 2004 hurricanes!”:

    Drudge joined Rush Limbaugh in peddling irresponsible conspiracy theories about the hurricane, placing their audience in danger. Earlier, Limbaugh downplayed the storm by ranting about “politics in the forecasting of hurricanes because there are votes,” and previously claimed the National Hurricane Center is "playing games" with "hurricane forecasting" to convince viewers of climate change.

    UPDATE: Conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones retweeted Matt Drudge, expressing support and agreement with his dangerous hurricane conspiracy while adding the white supremacist “altright” hashtag:

     

  • Media Should Not Forget About Climate Change In Coverage Of Hurricane Matthew

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Hurricane Matthew was reportedly the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti since 1964, and the National Hurricane Center is now warning that there is “a danger of life-threatening inundation during the next 36 hours along the Florida east coast and Georgia coast.” Alerting the public to the threat and urging people to take all precautions necessary to stay safe are the top priorities for reporters covering this historic storm. But media outlets should also keep the broader climate change context in mind as they report on Hurricane Matthew in the coming days.

    When record-breaking rainfall and flooding struck Louisiana in August, major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post addressed how the devastation was in line with the predicted impacts of a warming planet, but the major TV networks’ nightly newscasts did not. As CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter noted at the time, it’s essential for media to explain that extreme weather events “are happening more often due to climate change and are more extreme due to climate change,” particularly in the “early stages” of covering a weather disaster.

    Time will tell if the major television networks cover the relationship between climate change and Hurricane Matthew, but the scientific evidence is clear.

    As Climate Nexus’ Climate Signals has explained, Matthew has been “fueled by seas warmer than the historical average” and the threat of catastrophic flooding from heavy rainfall is “significantly amplified by climate change”:

    As the global temperature has increased, so too has the capacity of the atmosphere to hold and dump more water. At the same time warming of the ocean increases evaporation making more moisture available to the atmosphere. In parallel, coastal flooding has been amplified by sea level rise which extends the reach of storm surge driven by hurricanes such as Matthew.

    Similarly, The Guardian reported on October 5 that scientists say major storms like Matthew “will grow in menace as the world warms and sea levels rise.” The article quoted Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel, who said, “We expect to see more high-intensity events, category 4 and 5 events” due to global warming, and “there are hints that we are already beginning to see it in nature.” The Guardian also cited James Done of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who said, “The message is that hurricanes that do occur in the future, the major ones, will be stronger. Category four and five hurricanes could double or triple in the coming decades.”

    Emanuel added that scientists expect the damage from hurricanes like Matthew to “steadily increase” as sea levels continue to rise over the rest of the century.

  • These Are Five Issues Latinos Will Be Expecting Elaine Quijano To Ask Pence About

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    CBS’ Elaine Quijano will moderate the debate between the Republican and Democratic vice presidential nominees, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

    Since no debates will feature a Latino moderator, Hispanic voters are relying on the journalists who were selected to challenge the candidates on issues that matter most to their communities. Pence has a problematic record on issues that are important to Latinos, including the minimum wage, gun violence prevention, climate change, immigration, and access to reproductive rights. Will debate moderator Elaine Quijano challenge him on these topics?

    Minimum Wage

    Pence Signed Law Capping Indiana Minimum Wage, Employee Benefits. In 2013 under Pence’s governorship, the Republican State House rejected a proposal that would have increased Indiana’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, at a time when national support for raising the wage to $9 was at 76 percent. According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Pence had previously signed legislation “prohibit[ing] local governments from requiring businesses [to] pay a higher minimum wage, or offer any working condition or benefit, such as paid sick leave, if it's not mandated by state or federal law.” On May 6, 2015, Pence signed another bill ending a system in which workers on publicly funded construction projects earned a prevailing wage.

    Hispanics Support Raising The Federal Minimum Wage And Would Benefit Greatly From The Change. According to Pew, 84 percent of Hispanics support increasing the federal minimum wage. If the federal minimum wage was raised, “nearly 6.8 million Latino workers would benefit” and the wages of Latinos would increase by $8.5 billion, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.

    Gun Violence Prevention

    The NRA Praised Pence For Adopting Its Radical Agenda. The NRA endorsed Pence’s run for governor in 2012, awarding him an “A” rating while noting in a statement, “Mike Pence has a proven record of defending the Second Amendment.” The statement praised Pence for several votes he cast while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, including to support a controversial immunity law that makes it difficult for victims of gun violence to sue gun dealers and manufacturers that arm dangerous people through negligent or otherwise wrongful conduct.

    Latinos Favor Gun Safety Measures. Polls conducted by Pew Research Center demonstrate that, by a wide margin (71 percent to 25 percent), Latinos “prioritize gun control over gun rights.” The numbers are backed by findings from the organization Latino Decisions, which confirmed in a poll that “a solid majority of Latino voters support gun control measures,” according to The Huffington Post. A majority of Latinos also support background checks, a national database of gun owners and a ban on mentally ill people purchasing guns. The Hispanic community has a reason to be concerned about this issue, as a July 2015 study from the Violence Policy Center found that “Hispanics are disproportionately affected by firearms violence in the United States,” with a “homicide victimization rate for Hispanic victims” that is “nearly twice as high as the murder rate for white victims.”

    Climate Change

    Pence Has Been A Climate Science Denier And Has Opposed Governmental Action To Combat Climate Change. Asked on the February 21, 2014, edition of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown about climate change, Pence said, “I don’t know that that  is a resolved issue in science today,” adding, “Just a few years ago, we were talking about global warming. We haven't seen a lot of warming lately. I remember back in the ‘70s we were talking about the coming ice age." In 2014, he sent a letter to Indiana’s congressional delegation encouraging them to defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which combats climate change by placing the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. On June 24, 2015, The Associated Press reported that Pence said that “Indiana won't comply with President Barack Obama's plan to address climate change unless there are significant changes” and that he“threatened to use any legal means available to block the plan.”  Pence tried to soften his denial of climate change on the September 27 edition of CNN’s New Day, saying that “there’s no question that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate” -- but rather than offer solutions, Pence advocated “end[ing] the war on coal” and “continu[ing] to develop clean coal technology.”

    Latinos Support Governmental Action On Climate Change, Understand That It’s Caused By Human Action. Latinos are “significantly more likely than whites to say the Earth is warming because of human activities,” and a significant share favor governmental action to protect the environment. Moreover, because the Hispanic community is more likely to be affected by the consequences of climate change, a majority of Hispanics rate climate change as “extremely or very important to them personally,” and 63 percent support governmental action to address this issue.

    Immigration

    Pence’s Record Isn’t Favorable To Undocumented Immigrants, Children Of Immigrants, Or Comprehensive Immigration Reform. According to La Opinión, Pence’s record on immigration issues is “worse than Trump’s” because he has a legislative history on the issue. Pence supported a 2009 measure that would have limited birthright citizenship to children of citizens, people who immigrated legally, and and non-citizens serving in the military.  He also pushed for “self-deportation,” and, as governor of Indiana, he joined a lawsuit to halt the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).

    A Majority Of Latinos Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Pew has found that the number of Latino voters that say it’s important that immigration reform passes soon has risen, with 66 percent saying it’s either extremely important or very important in 2014 compared to 60 percent in 2013.

    Reproductive Rights

    Pence Signed “Kitchen Sink” Anti-Choice Bill That Would Place Multiple New Restrictions On Abortion, And He Opposes Planned Parenthood. In March, Pence signed Indiana’s House Enrolled Act 1337, a controversial bill that both banned certain abortion procedures and placed new restrictions on abortion providers. The bill banned abortion if the reason the pregnant person gave for the procedure was the fetus’s race or gender or a fetal abnormality. In addition, the bill required that all fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy be buried or cremated. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the bill, which The New York Times called “exceptional for its breadth,” days after the Supreme Court released its decision in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt.

    A Majority Of Latinas Would Support Candidates Who “Protect Abortion Rights.” Recent data contradicts the idea that Latinos lean conservative because of deeply held religious beliefs (more than half are Catholic), and that because of this they have “presumed conservative views on abortion.” The data shows that close to three-quarters of Latinas lean Democrat and 63 percent would back candidates who would “protect abortion rights.”