A coalition of prominent scientific organizations and experts is calling for a presidential debate that is focused on today's most pressing science-related topics, including climate change. To come up with potential questions for the candidates, they are turning to the American public. You can submit a question by clicking here.
ScienceDebate.org, a non-profit backed by Nobel Laureates and hundreds of other leaders in science, academics, business, and government, is running a campaign calling for at least one presidential debate that is exclusively focused on science, health, tech, and environmental issues. Now, in partnership with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geosciences Institute, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and others, the group is crowdsourcing the best science-related questions.
Questions posed by ScienceDebate.org have helped shape the past two presidential elections; in 2008 and 2012, the presidential nominees of both parties provided written responses to the group's top 14 science questions. For example, the group asked in the 2008 election:
The Earth's climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on the following measures that have been proposed to address global climate change--a cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax, increased fuel-economy standards, or research? Are there other policies you would support?
In response to the question, both then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain said that they favored a cap-and-trade system and other measures to reduce carbon pollution and help avoid what McCain called “disastrous changes in the climate.”
So far this election cycle, climate change has not been thoroughly addressed in the presidential primary debates, according to a recent Media Matters analysis. What's more, debate moderators have not posed a single climate question to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, the two front-runners for the GOP nomination.
Some of the best climate questions that have been posed during presidential debates were submitted to the moderators by people concerned about climate change. Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple observed that Arizona State University graduate student Anna Bettis provided CNN with “a simple and consequential question” that provoked an “extensive discussion” of climate change when she asked via video: “As a young person, I'm very concerned about climate change and how it will affect my future. As a presidential candidate, what will you do to address climate change?” Later, a bipartisan group of 21 Florida mayors urged the moderators of the Democratic and Republican debates in Miami to address climate change, and provided several suggested questions. Those two debates ultimately included seven questions about climate change, accounting for nearly one-third of the 22 climate questions asked over the course of all 20 primary debates. In the March 10 Republican debate hosted by CNN, co-moderator Jake Tapper noted that Republican Miami mayor Tomas Regalado, who had endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio, had requested that Tapper ask Rubio: “Will you, as president acknowledge the reality of the scientific consensus about climate change and as president, will you pledge to do something about it?”
But good questions on climate change and other scientific issues have been few and far between, which is why ScienceDebate.org says there should be an entire debate devoted to these issues. And the American people overwhelmingly agree; according to a Zogby Analytics poll, 86 percent of U.S. adults think the presidential candidates “should participate in a debate to discuss key science-based challenges facing the United States.” As Shawn Otto, chair of Science Debate, has stated to Media Matters: "[I]t's the science issues--from climate change to the Internet, from the war on drugs to a sustainable economy--that are driving most of today's major policy challenges, and the American people deserve answers."
But before the presidential candidates can provide detailed answers on climate change and other science topics, people need to come up with the questions. Submit yours here!