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What is each Presidential candidates stance on climate change?

Jack Margaros
@JackMargaros

On Sept. 20, the Metronome’s 62-foot-wide digital clock was reprogrammed.

Traditionally, it had been used to tell time in a unique way — counting hours, seconds and minutes as the days flew by in downtown Manhattan. Although on that September Saturday evening, the clock went dark.

Then messages began to show, those including “The Earth has a deadline.” After that, it was clear the Metronome was no longer an ordinary clock. 

It was now measuring what two artists, Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd (based on calculations by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change), believe is a vital window for action before irreversible effects of global warming start to occur. 

Numbers — 7:103:15:40:07 — followed the messages. Seven years, 103 days, 15 hours, 40 minutes and seven seconds. 

The Climate Clock is still ticking. 

It wasn’t a publicity stunt or temporary fad, and neither is climate change. There is loads of data to support the notion that planet Earth is in trouble, and humans are mostly to blame.

It took President Donald Trump a while to admit as much in the first presidential debate. After dodging Chris Wallace’s first two attempts, the moderator asked a third time, “You believe that human pollution, gas, greenhouse gas emissions contributes to the global warming of this planet?”

“I think a lot of things do, but I think to an extent, yes,” responded the President. 

These comments came just two weeks after Trump appeared in Sacramento in a briefing with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state and federal officials over the recent wildfires in California. 

Climate change is one of the leading factors of these seemingly yearly wildfires, and Wade Crowfoot, state Natural Resources Agency Secretary, urged Mr. Trump to acknowledge that. 

“If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot said. 

“It will start getting cooler, just you watch,” Trump responded. 

“I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot pushed back.

“I don’t think science knows, actually,” President Trump said, smiling. 

During the Vice Presidential debate on Oct. 7, Vice President Mike Pence lauded the Trump administration for its pro-science approach to combat climate change, albeit admitting that the problem itself is existential. 

These comments contrast what the Trump administration has been doing these last four years, which includes cuts to federal funding for research projects, and an overall reduction in the role science plays in policymaking. Also, President Trump has cut nearly 80 regulations that would reduce emissions and limit pollution. 

In truth, the Trump administration has been unsure of its stance regarding climate change and the legitimacy of it. It seems the administration’s actions have not mirrored its recent public statements.

Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, referred to climate change as “the greatest threat to our security” in a 2018 campaign rally. He laid out his plan to address the problem in 2019, entitled “The Green New Deal.”

The plan includes direct spending on clean energy as part of a nationwide initiative to reduce carbon emissions. Also, it promises to become a part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement again — which President Trump backed out of in 2017, citing the economic and financial burdens it puts on the American people. 

In theory, the Green New Deal sounds promising, committing to net-zero emissions by 2050. Although, massive amounts of money would be needed to execute such a plan — money that a country $23 trillion in debt likely does not have. 

Initially, Biden pledged $1.7 trillion in direct spending to combat climate change in 2019. In July 2020, he revised the plan, upping his pledge to over $2 trillion. President Trump called the plan “a socialist nightmare.”

The plan also lacks detail, raising concerns and speculation, according to experts. The Congregational Budget Office was not able to provide a cost estimate because of this. 

Essentially, the argument is that the plan would be too expensive and put the economy in more turmoil, especially since it is still recovering from the downturn it took as a result of COVID-19. 

A middle ground for both parties could be the CLEAN Future Act, introduced in late January by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Mainly, 100 percent of electricity would come from clean sources such as wind, solar, nuclear power, etc. by 2050 and seems to be more cost effective. 

Global warming will start to have legitimate and irreversible effects on the environment sooner than later. As each candidate fights for Presidency until Nov. 3, combating climate change should be at the top of their list of priorities for whomever is elected.

The Climate Clock won’t stop until there’s action. 

Seven years, 78 days, 18 hours, 22 minutes, 30 seconds. 

Photo: The Washington Post

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