Bill Snape, a professor at American University, dressed as a polar bear to raise awareness about climate change during a demonstration in Philadelphia before the Democratic National Convention. Credit Mark Makela for The New York Times


WASHINGTON — During the 2012 race for president, the issue of climate change was nearly invisible...

President Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, almost never spoke about it, and it did not come up during their debates. There was far more talk of increasing oil and gas production than of cutting emissions.

But this year, as Hillary Clinton thrusts climate change to the heart of her campaign, the issue is taking on a prominence it has never before had in a presidential general election.

In speeches, Mrs. Clinton regularly highlights her plan to combat global warming, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, praised her at the Democratic National Convention last week for putting it at “the center” of her foreign policy.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her main rival in the primaries, spoke of the issue forcefully, saying that “this election is about climate change.” The party platform calls for a price — essentially a tax — on carbon pollution.

Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the November election, Donald J. Trump, has gone further than any other Republican presidential nominee in opposing climate change policy. He often mocks the established science of human-caused climate change and dismisses it as a hoax. The Republican platform calls climate change policy “the triumph of extremism over common sense.”

The divide between the two parties over the issue is the widest it has been in the decades since it emerged as a public policy matter. That is all the more remarkable given that during the 2008 election, the Democratic and Republican positions on climate change were almost identical.

That year, Mr. Obama and the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, spoke of the need to address the human causes of global warming, and they proposed a nearly identical policy — a “cap-and-trade” plan, which would have limited carbon dioxide emissions and created a market for trading pollution credits.

“The elevated conversation about climate change in this election is truly historic,” said Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, who addressed the Democratic convention on Thursday.

“In 2012, no one asked about it and the candidates didn’t talk about it,” he said. “In 2008, the candidates were in the same place, so no one talked about it. They’ve never talked about it this much, and the contrast between candidates has never been sharper.”

Democratic strategists once sidestepped the issue, seeing any proposal that might raise energy prices as politically risky. But they are now pushing it to the forefront.

At the convention, organizers played a short film by James Cameron, the director of blockbusters like “Titanic,” on the dangers of climate change. Another convention video montage put a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s role at the 2009 climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen. As part of a wide-ranging climate plan, she has set ambitious goals for producing energy from renewable sources, including by installing a half-billion solar panels by 2020.

Democratic Senate candidates in swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida are also embracing the issue. They have been emboldened by polls showing that a growing majority of Americans accept the science of climate change and would support candidates of either party who vowed to address the issue.

A Gallup poll in March found that 65 percent of Americans believed that climate change was caused by human activity, an increase of 10 points from a year earlier. The poll found that 38 percent of Republicans believed the same thing, an increase of four points from a year earlier. The poll also found that 76 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 accepted that human activity is behind climate change.

Some Republican strategists say they are concerned that Mr. Trump’s views on the issue could push younger voters away from the party for the long term, much as they fear that his immigration policies and remarks about women could alienate Hispanics and female voters.

“It’s important for Republican candidates to talk about the issue intelligently and not be dismissive of climate change,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. He worked for the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and now works for an advocacy group backing Mr. Rubio’s Senate re-election campaign.

“The way you talk about climate change sends a signal to millennials about how sensitive you are to the environment,” Mr. Ayres said. “Millennials recently passed baby boomers to become the largest generation, so any party that hopes to own the future politically needs to be attractive to millennials.”

As they have on other policy issues this year, some Republican candidates are staking out positions different from Mr. Trump’s. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a state where voters tend to favor environmentally friendly candidates, has endorsed Mr. Trump but has broken with her party to vote to uphold the Obama administration’s climate change regulations. Her campaign website says she is “working to combat the effects of climate change.”

Still, most Republicans remain strongly opposed to Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, specifically a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at curbing planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants. If enacted, those rules could shut down hundreds of such plants.

Mr. Trump has vowed to rescind Mr. Obama’s climate change rules, and he has called for more fossil fuel drilling and fewer environmental regulations. He has said he would “cancel” the accord reached last year in France that commits nearly every nation to taking action to curb climate change.

But party strategists say there is a way for Republicans who may be positioning themselves to run for president in 2020 or 2024, such as Mr. Rubio or the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to talk about opposing the Obama rules without alienating younger voters.

“It’s important for the next generation of Republicans to show that they get it, and that they’re not just playing the old orthodoxy,” said Kevin Sheridan, a Republican strategist who was Mr. Ryan’s communications director when he ran for vice president with Mr. Romney in 2012.

Mr. Sheridan and other Republican strategists said it was unclear how Mr. Trump’s dismissive position on climate change would affect the party’s future.

“Anything that Trump says where he uses rhetoric that something’s a hoax or crooked — no one else in the party gets lumped in with that,” said Douglas Heye, a Republican strategist who was deputy communications director for Eric Cantor of Virginia, a former House majority leader. “That’s Trump-specific bombastic rhetoric.”

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  • Daniel Lavigne
    commented 2016-09-04 22:28:06 -0700
    Humanity’s Choice? Our Children’s Choice?

    We know and they know that our non-stop emissions guarantee

    . . . A Dead and Lifeless Planet . . .
    . . . the pain of seeing it happen . . .

    and the shame of knowing we let it happen!

    Their survival demands that we wake to the crisis,
    confront our conduct, live simply, waste nothing,
    store personal vehicles use public transport and limit family size & needs.

    Or expect non-stop near future Super Storms that will lead to:
    - a worldwide suicidal rage by the young -

    Minimizing that rage requires the immediate rejection of fossil fuels to minimize
    the severe conditions that will soon devastate their world!

    Note the dates herein!

    Catastrophic Climate Change & Runaway Global Warming The Tallberg Forum 2008
    > <
    > <

    If we care . . . truly care . . . about our children, we shall ensure that everyone known to us understands the lethal ‘why’ of
    President Obama’s message of October 2015:
    ‘If we don’t soon act, there will come a time when it will be too late to act.’

    We must act!

    Indeed! A growing awareness, due the Tallberg Forum 2008, of a possible tipping point leading to a ‘Sudden Onset Runaway Global Heating Scenario’, is ‘why’ signatories to ‘The Paris Agreement’ of December 2015, made their decision in New York, on April 22nd 2016, to accelerate future ‘Start Dates’ of that agreement’s agenda!

    26 days later! CBC News! May 18th 2016: The last 12 months are the hottest on record! With – no reaction – from governments or news media?

    47 days later! July 4th, 2016 Scientists state: First six months this year are hottest ever! Related announcement: Most fish stocks are close to collapse.

    Again, with – no reaction – from governments or news media?

    The “why” of such is readily discernible:

    Everyday we fail to act, increases our near future horrors!

    August 3rd, 2016 Scientists state that 2015 was the hottest year on record!

    18 + months of non-stop global heat rise! What can we do?

    Immediate rejection of fossil fuels is all we can do.

    Absent our full compliance with that only solution,
    we face non-stop runaway global heating!

    If we care about our children:
    We store our personal vehicles!

    ‘Save The Children’ organizations!
    Get Involved! Join this ‘Last Gasp’ effort! Otherwise:
    No Children = No Organizations!

    Parents! Teachers! Teenagers! We are losing our planet!

    Fight Back! Gather everyone! Tell them hard! And tell them straight!

    We must scrap our polluters! . . . Our shiny polluters!
    We must scrap our polluters! . . . Or fry at Hell’s Gate!
    One more time!
    We must scrap our polluters! . . . Our shiny polluters!
    We must scrap our polluters! . . . Or fry at Hell’s Gate!

    Reality: We can’t afford to ‘scrap’ them. That will release too much more heat and greenhouse gases to our overheated atmosphere! We must ‘Park’ them.

    Ask your neighbors for their input!

    Ask them to describe what they would have advised others to do,
    20 years ago, for a head start, to-day, at reducing the possibility of a
    ‘Confirmed Accelerating Runaway Global Heating Scenario’
    in the next 20 months!

    Then: Because such won’t be broadcast by governments or profit driven ad media:

    Confirm your concern by promoting your neighbors’ or your own
    20/20 preparations non-stop, worldwide!

    Use one to prod our moral and survival responses!

    Use one to help protect everything our children will need to survive, including the air, soil, water and temperature ranges that facilitate and permit our existence, today.

    Or use one to help guide preparations for a massive multiplication of mental health issues as ‘Our prized mobility’ mocks the abandonment of our children to a heating hell by America’s racist, side-switching psycho. Sing him a song!

    Poor Swirly! Poor Twirly! As you fall from ‘Your’ wall!
    Due to no glue! . . And few clues! . . Indeed! . . None at all!

    Hope that Hillary and Bernie ‘sweep your soft side away’ Lest ‘Time’ leaves you . . . ‘Shell man’ . . . in complete dis-array!

    Poor Silly, poor Twirly! As you slip and then fall! Due to no glue! . . . and few clues! . . . Indeed! . . . none at all.

    Swirly, old chap, control your murderous glare!

    The above is but a mild example of a ‘Harsh Attack!’.
    Get off your horse, stop lying and apologize to Mr. & Mrs. Kazir Khan!

    Prods to ‘Ole Swirly’ aside, we heed the message or suffer the rage; as ‘reality’ dictates the terms of our near future existence.

    As for Ole Swirly’s ‘My Way . . Or Else!’ approach to life:

    Dare any sane person trust ‘Ole Swirly’ with the fate of Humanity?

    AMERICA! Vote for Stability! Vote for Hillary!

    Or suffer the non-stop / no substance ‘Soundbites’ that seem to be the sole focus of Ole Swirly’s search for ‘Star Status’ by any means; whatever the cost to all others!

    Now: A self-endangering plea to the world beyond this ‘attack’ on the narcissistic Republican nominee for the office of the President of the United States.

    The following, ‘Ole Swirly’, is an example of ‘sacrifice’ . . . (BTW: I’m developing ‘Narcee Cosmetics’ as a “Must Have” for sale to would-be ‘Political Stars’ . . . such as ‘Ole Swirly’.)

    As a ‘Purported Pedophile’ and, due to such, reluctant to discuss or engage in any public matter, regardless my poetry regarding questions of ‘Duty’, I risk my life to say

    - For the future of our children -

    We must heed the message, or suffer the loss of our world.

    Swirly, the situation is so critical, and so serious, that this is a “Words only, personal thoughts necessary.” plea to all that you communicate with each other across all barriers and divisions.

    To all Teachers: Prepare your students! We have reached the feared ‘Tipping Point’.

    Our purported love for our children demands that we act on the message!
    Absent such actions, they shall suffer in the shadows of an earthly hell.
    As for President Obama and the advisers that shed midnight tears in a copious deluge when realizing the ‘Life Threatening’ scale of our situation:
    ‘We’, as in ‘Humanity’, have a duty to openly thank them; and curse ourselves for being so obtuse as to have failed to have seen what was happening before our eyes!

    A Necessary Caution

    The possibility of a recurrence of ‘Dadaism’ is a threat to all. (A lethal fad that ended the lives of several million young people AFTER the First World War!)

    While we MUST stop the use of ALL personal vehicles and PLAN the use of all engines involved in the production and distribution of food:

    WE DARE NOT embrace hopelessness!

    Its that simple. Its that serious.

    Otherwise, our vile propensity to threaten to murder ‘The other half of Humanity if need
    be’; will win the day and we shall lose our world as we continue to add more heat and lethal emissions to our atmosphere and, due to such, succumb to ‘Eternal Night’; with no postscripts to explain our beliefs, religions and ‘The Rule of Law’.

    June 24, 2016 England votes to leave the European Union. The “leave” vote was driven by concerns of individuals who still remember the madness of World War Two; and are determined to prevent climate refugees (And others fleeing the economic circumstances imposed upon them by greed.) from harming or interfering with their ability(?) to deal with near-future socio-economic-political-survival realities.

    Such informs us that Politicians now understand that the
    “Accelerating Global Heating Scenario” must be confronted!

    However, due pressure from individuals who guaranteed their election, they insist that such be done from a position that refuses to allow any suggestion that everyone be informed that we MUST STORE our personal vehicles.

    Ergo! Humanity’s survival is in your hands!

    “Attempts To Survive” require non-stop organizing of local “Lets Do What We Can!” meetings and events whereby we can develop a generalized commitment to do nothing, as in “NOTHING!” that will put more heat into our atmosphere.

    If we don’t soon act & our descendants ask what we did to prevent climate changes that forced them to live in the shadows of hell – what will be said in our favour?

    That abandoning our prized mobility was an impossibility? If so . . .

    Hum Low The Bells Of Kyoto

    Hum Low The Bells Of Kyoto
    Bang low your dirge to the sea.
    Your sound so despond will not travel long
    Your tune was not meant to be.

    Drum Low The Bells Of Kyoto
    Speak soft of our crimes of the past
    And sing loud the cry that truth had to die
    In order that profits would last.

    Cry Low The Bells Of Kyoto
    Sing soft the lies of our greed
    And peal plaintive song of needs all gone wrong
    And air unfit to breathe.

    Hum soft all the bells! To an empty world tell!
    Of Kyoto’s smiles and deceit
    Hum soft all the bells! To an empty world tell!
    The greed of lies on spreadsheets.

    Copyright December 8, 1997 Daniel J. Lavigne

    My book,
    ‘Purported Pedophile’
    should be available by June or July next year (2017). Not that such shall change anything.
    Unless we change.
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