The wrong climate for a debate?

By Jesse Nichols, June 28, 2019

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by Grist. It appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The numbers speak for themselves: 160 minutes of total debate time, and less than 15 minutes devoted to climate change.

As Dan Rather tweeted: “…[S]o much for the greatest existential threat to the planet”


Less than six percent of the questions covered climate, and half the 20 candidates on stage never even got the chance to address the topic at all. And all this happened even though activists and some candidates have been asking, repeatedly, for a Democratic debate devoted solely to climate change. As Washington governor (and presidential contender) Jay Inslee put it: “If we don’t solve the climate crisis…  nothing else matters.” He derided what he called the “bumper sticker answers” that the curent debate format promotes.

Yet the Democratic National Committee has still rejected all requests that it schedule a debate dedicated solely to climate change, despite it being a topic that clearly animates the party’s base.

What’s going on? Grist’s Jesse Nichols seeks to find out.


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