To preserve my mental health, I've been watching my recording of the first Republican presidential debate in short chunks. So far I'm up to an hour of the two hour debate.
The scariest moment of the debate that I've seen so far -- and I'm pretty sure it will remain on top of my fear factor after I've seen the whole thing -- was the horrendous answers given to a question posed by a young Republican. He said:
Polls consistently show that young people's number one issue is climate change. How would you, as both president of the United States and a leader of the Republican Party, calm their fears that the party doesn't care about climate change?
Well, the eight candidates onstage (Trump didn't take part) did very little, next to nothing in fact, to calm those fears. Which is strange politically, since young people obviously are an important voting bloc.
They're going to be around long after older voters are dead and gone. Which helps explain why they're so concerned about climate change: young people are going to deal with the consequences of global warming the longest.
The Fox News moderators asked for a show of hands of those candidates who believe human behavior is causing climate change. Which, it is, obviously. I'll let an AP story tell the tale of what happened next.
The eight Republican presidential candidates on the debate stage were asked to raise their hands if they believed human behavior is causing climate change.
Not a single hand went up.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shut down the question and attacked the “corporate media.” Echoing the words of former President Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy called climate change “a hoax” and a “wet blanket on our economy.” Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., insisted that more serious environmental threats are coming from China, India and Africa.
Just one Republican, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, said during Wednesday night’s debate in Milwaukee that climate change “is real.”
A day later, frustrated leaders in the GOP’s small but growing movement of environmental activists said their party must do better. In fact, some young conservatives confronted Ramaswamy at a gathering after the debate and told him his answer was particularly unhelpful
“We’re getting to a point where Republicans are losing winnable elections because they’re alienating people that care about climate change,” Christopher Barnard, the Republican president of the American Conservation Coalition, the largest conservative environmental group in the nation, said Thursday.
As the 2024 presidential contest begins in earnest, the Republican Party is struggling to reconcile rising concerns about climate change — especially young people — with the GOP’s older base, which largely rejects climate science as a liberal conspiracy theory. Scientists overwhelmingly agree that heat-trapping gases released from the combustion of fossil fuels are pushing up global temperatures, upending weather patterns and endangering animal species.
...The presidential debate “underscored the fact that one of the two parties (the GOP) not only refuses to act on the climate crisis, but refuses to even acknowledge it exists,” University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann said in an email. “It is a disqualifying position on the defining challenge of our time.”
“The party will lose a huge chunk of voters, especially women and younger voters if it adopts this stance,” he said.
Here's a video of the climate change portion of the debate.
And here's a photo of a clump of oak trees on the upper part of our rural south Salem property that I took this afternoon. We've lived here for 33 years. I don't recall ever seeing oak leaves turning brown and falling off the trees in freaking August.
Oaks aren't supposed to lose their leaves anywhere near this early. It's still summer, not fall. But we haven't gotten any measurable rain for quite a few months, not since May, I'm pretty sure. And it's been considerably hotter than usual.
"Usual" is a word that we'll be increasingly discarding as global warming hits harder and harder. That's why it was so disturbing to have the Republican presidential candidates be so dismissive of climate change.
That may fly with most Republican primary voters. It's a recipe for disaster for our one and only planet.