During the presidential debates, the closest question addressing any of the environmental issues facing the United States was on energy independence. This wasn’t enough to address the issue of climate change — the question concerned itself only with energy-related impacts, rather than the environmental, sociological and existential implications of climate change. Throughout this election season, the environment has been largely an afterthought.
This year, carbon dioxidelevels have hit a new peak. Some have argued that we have passed a point of no return. International leaders in science and world-renowned religious leaders like Pope Francis have made clear warnings about the harms our society will endure if we remain unconcerned with environmental policy.
Environmental policy must move beyond hypothetical harms and enter the realm of tangible policy actions. Perhaps the easiest way to help the environment is to invest in nuclear energy. A carbon cap-and-trade policy has led to actionable improvements on climate change. The policy’s economic impacts have passed multiple stress tests.
The argument that our country has more important things to worry about than climate change is simply untrue. The fate of future generations is at hand today, and the dire conditions of our planet cannot be outweighed. Policy makers at the state and national level simply must take action.
All presidential candidates must give the issue of climate change air time — an issue of top priority ought to be given more than a few fleeting moments on the on the campaign trail to the White House.