After giving unconscionably short shrift to climate change all of these years, CNN has arranged for a massive climate change Town Hall tonight — with 40 minutes given to each of the qualifying Democratic candidates to talk up their plans. (By the way, they should do this for Republicans too — with the same realistic frame of reference and the expectation that they’ll confront the threat to the public.)
This has gotten especially interesting just recently, as Elizabeth Warren seems to be annexing Jay Inslee’s territory as the climate-serious candidate, adopting the substance of his plans. I’m still making my way through that, but it’s exciting — and necessary. I have to say, she’s close to cinching it for me. (Joe Biden, on the other hand, has received a D-minus from Greenpeace. I don’t know what he’s doing.)
- Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro will be interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer at 5 pm ET
- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang will be interviewed by Blitzer at 5:40 pm
- California Sen. Kamala Harris will be interviewed by Erin Burnett at 6:20 pm
- Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will be interviewed by Burnett at 7 pm
- Former Vice President Joe Biden will be interviewed by Anderson Cooper at 8 pm
- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will interviewed by Cooper at 8:40 pm
- Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be interviewed by Chris Cuomo at 9:20 pm
- South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be interviewed by Cuomo at 10 pm
- Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke will be interviewed Don Lemon at 10:40 pm
- New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will be interviewed by Lemon at 11:20 pm
And from David Roberts, I think this is the right framing of the kinds of questions we should look for: How do you use the powers of the presidency to attack climate change? In other words, let’s worry less about winning the argument. Of all things, truth beareth away the victory: Reality has won that argument, in some extremely stark and unsettling ways, where the consensus science view has actually been rather too conservative in forecasting rapid changes. We needn’t waste time with arguments about whether 2+2=4.
Second, while “deniers” may be a useful rhetorical category into which to slot some opponents of climate policy, it is not a meaningful political category. There is no substantial political bloc organized around scientific disagreement. There are blocs organized around protecting various fossil fuel–related industries and the politicians (and party) they fund, blocs that borrow science-denialist talking points when advantageous, but there are no rooms full of Congress members making skeptical notes in the margins of IPCC reports. Again, the axis around which this conflict turns is power, not science.
People don’t oppose action on climate because they don’t believe the science — rather, vice versa. They oppose action because they think it may harm their immediate interests, and rationalize their assessment of reality around that perception. This is the power of cognitive dissonance.
Therefore we cast our political net as wide as possible, in the hopes that people will see that their own interest in climate action. But this is indeed about who has power, and what are we going to do with it — a scrap, not a debate club.