Two Percent of Debate Time Addressed Climate Change

Pressing topic was mostly left out of all presidential debates.

Grist writer Emma Foehringer Merchant calculated that climate change was addressed by both presidential candidates for only five minutes and twenty-seven seconds across all debates. An initiative launched by Presidential Open Platform, an online platform where the top 30 voter-submitted questions were considered when formulating the topics posed to candidates, was filled with climate change-related questions. These included one posed by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals President Ingrid Newkirk, “Will you reduce support for animal agriculture to counter climate change?”—which gained nearly 20,000 votes. The only relevant question which received any air time was posed by (now internet sensation) Ken Bone about what steps the candidates planned to take to meet energy needs while remaining environmentally friendly. Presidential candidate Donald Trump openly denies the existence of climate change, while opponent Hillary Clinton—even though she admits climate change is a concern—hardly addresses the topic. Despite numerous substantiated claims that animal agriculture is a climate nightmare—as supported by the United Nations 2009 report documenting that methane emissions by cows used in food production contribute more greenhouse gas than all transportation combined—the topic continues to be mostly ignored by world leaders.

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