Last Chance To Break The Climate Silence
UPDATE: The end of the tonight's debate marks the first election cycle since 1988  to ignore climate change in the presidential and vice presidential debates.
Will CBS' Bob Schieffer ask the presidential candidates about climate change in the final debate tonight? If not -- and assuming neither President Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney raise  the issue independently -- it will be the first time  in over a decade  that every presidential debate ignored the changes we are forcing on our atmosphere.
While tonight's debate focuses on foreign policy, Andrew Revkin, a former environmental reporter for The New York Times who runs the blog Dot Earth , argued  that this debate would actually be an appropriate forum to discuss climate change, as global warming has global consequences and requires global solutions. A recent report by the National Defense Industrial Association identified  climate change as one of the top five national security threats we face in the next decade, and many experts  agree.
The debate's location, Florida, is also an apt  setting to challenge the candidates about their plans to address this issue. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has projected  9" to 24" of sea-level rise by 2060 in Southeast Florida, as over 130 local sea-level rise experts noted  when calling for the candidates to address climate change during tonight's debate. The following graphic, excerpted from their letter, showed what a lower-level estimate could mean for Florida flooding when a Category 1 hurricane hits:
Schieffer previously asked  about climate change in a 2008 presidential debate between then-Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain. However, instead of asking  the candidates what they would do to address the issue, Schieffer focused only on their plans to wean our reliance on "foreign oil," overlooking the fact that our dependence on oil -- whether domestic or foreign -- exacerbates climate change and hurts our energy security .
In 2008, both Obama and McCain acknowledged the threat of climate change and promoted policy solutions to address it. Since then, the evidence of manmade climate change has only gotten stronger , but the Republican party has shifted from acceptance  to denial, dragging Romney  along with it.
This year has been fraught with record -breaking  events  that are consistent with a warming planet and would make good fodder  for a debate question about climate change. Yet the chances of a climate question look slim: a list  of broad topics released ahead of the debate does not include environmental issues.
The decline  in coverage of climate change on CBS and other broadcast networks has been a boon to those seeking to block government action to address carbon emissions. Stay tuned to find if tonight's debate becomes the exception.