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Pressure Mounts for Climate Question During Presidential Debates

forest fire: "Things are heating up."
Photo: Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

Trimmel GomesTALLAHASSEE, FL – As the nation grapples with massive wildfires, a hurricane season already on its second alphabet and intensifying drought, conservationists are calling on moderators for the first presidential debate to press candidates on their plans to address climate change.

In 2016, just one question referenced climate change during a town hall event. And Collin O'Mara, President and CEO at the National Wildlife Federation, said this year's moderators need to chart a different course.

"To not have that question is just the height of irresponsibility," O'Mara said. "We think that every American has a right to know what the candidate's positions are on these incredibly important issues that are affecting millions of their neighbors across the country."

O'Mara and others want USA Today's Susan Page, C-SPAN's Steve Scully, Fox News' Chris Wallace and NBC News' Kristen Welker to ask President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden for their plans to reduce emissions in electricity generation, in the transportation sector, in agriculture, and restoring lands to capture and sequester more carbon.

The world's top scientists have warned that less than a decade remains to sharply curtail fossil-fuel emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

O'Mara said the next president will be charged with leading the nation out of the biggest financial downturn since the Great Depression, and he said the future of Florida will be very much dependent on addressing climate change directly.

"Whether folks want to protect their property values or they want to make sure their businesses can thrive or they just want clean water and they are tired of the blue-green algae and the red tide - you know, that kills everything in its wake - it really is a question that has to be asked," he said.

O'Mara said the presidential and vice-presidential debates don't have to be just a spectator sport. He's encouraging Americans who have been impacted by climate change to reach out to the networks and to remind journalists on their Facebook and Twitter pages to make sure climate change is part of this year's national conversation.

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