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Candidates, candidates everywhere

13 Mar 2019 | OP ED Watch

And not a plan in sight. That at least is the lament of the New York Times “Climate Fwd.” which asks in its March 6 email (web version here without that subject line) “Who will be the 2020 Climate Candidate” and answers just about every Democrat. And the public is on board and the evidence is overwhelming. The only problem is that “One thing that’s been missing from the early campaign discourse, however, is what the candidates would actually do.” Oh. Just that.

Newsletters like “Climate Fwd.” are worth reading because of their revealing narrowness. The first article, by John Schwartz, is a parade of clichés: “As the world heats up, we’re seeing the effects in the oceans, which have absorbed about 90 percent of the heat trapped by excess greenhouse gases since midcentury…. the increasing number of ocean heat waves and the damage they are doing to marine life…. fish populations are declining as oceans warm… in Washington, President Trump is increasingly isolated in his denial of climate science, even among some senior Republicans.” Then it quotes former Obama advisor David Axelrod that we are “surrounded by floods and fires in a way that is becoming more and more visible.”. And it assures us “scientists are increasingly comfortable explaining the links between extreme weather events and climate change, but every cold snap gets trumpeted by those who deny the scientific evidence for global warming.” Regrettably “people may become inured to weather extremes over time.” Which you might think was evidence that climate change isn’t a serious problem since instead of being devastated people just shrug it off. But no.

Instead “The 2020 Democratic presidential field is now awash with climate candidates.” All serious, credible people not even slightly attracted to the issue by its rhetorical resonance with the left-wing primary base provided you don’t suggest anything even slightly costly like carbon taxes that alienate swing voters in the general election. “For all the talk of a Green New Deal, there has been little support for its main policy prescription: a price on carbon.” Fortunately a California professor of politics says don’t worry about practical solutions.

“There will be a lot of push in the Democratic primaries to pin people down on specific positions, but right now it’s early days. What’s clear is that the climate issue really matters.” As if it hasn’t been a political winner for years… except that awkward detail about an actual plan.

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