Democrats Ponder How to Avoid a Climate Debate

In any serious climate plan, the United States would need to plan on building a few thousand of these. California alone would probably need several hundred.Album / Prisma

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

We might get our Democratic climate debate after all:

The Democratic National Committee is considering a pair of resolutions on whether to host a debate of some kind devoted exclusively to climate change, amid mounting pressure from activists who want a spotlight put on the issue. At an executive committee gathering in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the DNC voted unanimously to refer two proposals—one calling for an official debate on climate change, another envisioning a less formal forum—to a committee, a DNC official confirmed to HuffPost.

There are two big problems with a Democratic climate debate. The first is that it would probably be boring since liberals all agree that it’s a huge problem that needs to be seriously addressed. What’s to argue about?

The second is that it might not be boring. If the moderators push the candidates hard, they’ll inevitably start voicing their support for policies that have no public backing. It’s easy if you stick to the Paris Treaty and CAFE standards and subsidies for solar power. That’s kumbaya stuff. For that reason, however, they’ll be taken care of in five or ten minutes with a few “show of hands” questions. Then we’ll have to get down to serious business. Which candidates support a carbon tax? How big? Who thinks we need to end coal mining? Who’s in favor of restrictions on meat production? Does anyone like the idea of a $10 gasoline tax? Should we ease environmental review rules for utility-grade solar and wind plants? What should we do about air travel? And cement production? And chemical manufacturing? Should we scrap the WTO and put in place whopping tariffs on carbon-intensive imports?

Oh, and what about nuclear power on a gigantic scale?

These are the kinds of things that get talked about among people who are serious about addressing climate change. They’re also political land mines. Nobody wants to give up their steaks or their SUVs. Nobody wants their electric bill to double or their gasoline bill to triple. Nobody likes the idea of compromising environmental rules even though we all say we believe that climate change is truly existential.

A climate debate would almost certainly devolve quickly into a contest between the candidates to demonstrate who takes climate change most seriously. That might or might not be good for the planet. But it would sure be a godsend for the Republican Party.

POSTSCRIPT: This reminds me of something. Six months ago, when I (and others) were complaining that the Green New Deal was mostly a statement of goals and not much more, we were told to hold our horses. It’s just a start. The GND folks will be filling the details soon.

I’m still waiting.

WE'LL BE BLUNT.

We have a considerable $390,000 gap in our online fundraising budget that we have to close by June 30. There is no wiggle room, we've already cut everything we can, and we urgently need more readers to pitch in—especially from this specific blurb you're reading right now.

We'll also be quite transparent and level-headed with you about this.

In "News Never Pays," our fearless CEO, Monika Bauerlein, connects the dots on several concerning media trends that, taken together, expose the fallacy behind the tragic state of journalism right now: That the marketplace will take care of providing the free and independent press citizens in a democracy need, and the Next New Thing to invest millions in will fix the problem. Bottom line: Journalism that serves the people needs the support of the people. That's the Next New Thing.

And it's what MoJo and our community of readers have been doing for 47 years now.

But staying afloat is harder than ever.

In "This Is Not a Crisis. It's The New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, why this moment is particularly urgent, and how we can best communicate that without screaming OMG PLEASE HELP over and over. We also touch on our history and how our nonprofit model makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there: Letting us go deep, focus on underreported beats, and bring unique perspectives to the day's news.

You're here for reporting like that, not fundraising, but one cannot exist without the other, and it's vitally important that we hit our intimidating $390,000 number in online donations by June 30.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. It's going to be a nail-biter, and we really need to see donations from this specific ask coming in strong if we're going to get there.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT.

We have a considerable $390,000 gap in our online fundraising budget that we have to close by June 30. There is no wiggle room, we've already cut everything we can, and we urgently need more readers to pitch in—especially from this specific blurb you're reading right now.

We'll also be quite transparent and level-headed with you about this.

In "News Never Pays," our fearless CEO, Monika Bauerlein, connects the dots on several concerning media trends that, taken together, expose the fallacy behind the tragic state of journalism right now: That the marketplace will take care of providing the free and independent press citizens in a democracy need, and the Next New Thing to invest millions in will fix the problem. Bottom line: Journalism that serves the people needs the support of the people. That's the Next New Thing.

And it's what MoJo and our community of readers have been doing for 47 years now.

But staying afloat is harder than ever.

In "This Is Not a Crisis. It's The New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, why this moment is particularly urgent, and how we can best communicate that without screaming OMG PLEASE HELP over and over. We also touch on our history and how our nonprofit model makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there: Letting us go deep, focus on underreported beats, and bring unique perspectives to the day's news.

You're here for reporting like that, not fundraising, but one cannot exist without the other, and it's vitally important that we hit our intimidating $390,000 number in online donations by June 30.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. It's going to be a nail-biter, and we really need to see donations from this specific ask coming in strong if we're going to get there.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate