One (slightly) encouraging sign: The most emailed story on the McClatchey newspapers site recently was a story about how the campaigns are talking (or not talking) about climate change.
Although climate change typically ranks below such issues as the economy, polling done in March 2012 by Yale University and George Mason University found that 72 percent of Americans think that global warming should be a priority for the president and Congress. Among registered voters, 84 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans think global warming should be a priority.
Regardless of the candidates’ relative silence about global warming on the campaign trail, the next president will face tough choices on controversial energy and environmental issues such as whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and how to handle natural gas development and the environmentally fraught “fracking” that goes with it.
The silence on the campaign trail belies the reality – and the gravity – for many coastal communities. Planners in south Florida and New York City already are looking at the multibillion-dollar expense of upgrading infrastructure to address rising sea levels.
Until recently, though, climate change has been so low a priority in the year’s political discourse that some major political contributors with a strong interest in environmental issues have been reserved in their giving.