The Danger of Making Climate Change A Youth Issue
The Pentagon has identified climate change as a significant global threat and the evidence of an overall planetary warming trend is denied by only the most radical in the conservative movement, yet the topic has barely registered this presidential election.
Now, with the election just a week away the issue of climate change finally made an appearance. During a recent campaign stop at the MTV studios, President Obama told the audience that there was a significant difference between himself and Mitt Romney on climate change. As reported by Talking Points Memo, Obama said Romney ”says he believes in climate change….but he says he’s not sure that man-made causes are the reason” As for his own views, “I believe scientists who say we’re putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it’s heating the planet and its going to have a severe effect.”
The President went on to explain why he believed the issue was a significant one. “We’re not moving as fast as we need to,” Obama said. “This is an issue that future generations, MTV viewers, are going to have to be dealing with even more than the older generation is. So this is a critical issue — and there’s a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney. I’m surprised it didn’t come up in the debates.”
Maybe the reason the issue hasn’t come up during the campaign, let alone the debate, is because climate change has for some reason, become framed as principally a “youth vote” issue. Even the president defaults to this framing of climate change as an issue that will dramatically impact “future generations.” The truth is every issue facing our nation will dramatically impact “future generations,” but by relegating the issue of climate change to the MTV audience we don’t talk about it as foreign policy when we should. Nor did we talk about it during the town hall debate because, presumably, the “youth vote” question went to a young man asking about student debt. And in the first debate neither candidate felt compelled to raise the issue of climate change because that debate was supposed to focus on the economy and we all know climate change doesn’t have an economic impact. Just ask the folks still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina.