Put Climate Change on the Agenda in the First Presidential Debate
Dear Mr. Lehrer,
In your role as moderator of the first presidential debate, you have the opportunity to ask questions about the most pressing issues facing our country. We urge you to ask President Obama and Governor Romney how they will confront the greatest challenge of our generation — climate change.
This summer, the climate crisis has fallen right into America's front yards — in some cases literally. With trees crashing through their windows, fires burning through their neighborhoods, water flooding under their doorsteps, and droughts destroying their crops, Americans have been hurting from the effects of weather extremes that climate scientists have predicted would happen as a result of global warming.
As renowned climate scientist James Hansen recently put it, "It is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change."
Climate change is happening and the effects will only get worse if our government does not take action soon. However, the only way we can make that happen is by educating voters about where their elected officials stand so that they consider our planet's future at the ballot box.
Millions of voters will get their information about the presidential candidates by watching the debates this year. That gives you the responsibility to ensure that they know where the candidates stand on issues that will affect not only their own lives, but also their children and grandchildren's futures. Especially since the debate will be hosted in Colorado, where the community has suffered so much from the terrible wildfires, it is critical that you press the presidential candidates to tell the American people what they plan to do about this growing crisis.
July was the hottest month ever recorded in U.S. history and climate scientists tell us that's not a coincidence. Yet, according to Media Matters, only 8.7% of TV news segments talked about the connection between July's heat wave and climate change. By asking bold questions in this debate, you can change this trend. We appreciate that the PBS NewsHour has covered issues of climate change with the gravity that it requires. Now we ask that you apply that same integrity to your questions during the presidential debate and generate the substantive discussion about global warming on the national stage that our country needs to have right now.
Thank you for considering this request. We hope you will use this opportunity to stand up for a cleaner, healthier future.