Despite considerable pressure from the scientific community and advocacy groups, climate change never made it into the U.S. presidential debates. Now, in the waning days of the campaign, the issue may finally make it out from under the radar given Mayor of New York Michael R. Bloomberg's unexpected endorsement of Barack Obama today.
Bloomberg has been critical of both President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, and until now has resisted efforts from both campaigns to secure his endorsement. However, it seems that the recent devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy across the Eastern Seaboard has changed his mind.
In an editorial published on his own site and on Bloomberg View, the mayor made his concerns clear. "Our climate is changing," he wrote. "And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be—given this week's devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."
That action, according to Bloomberg, will be best taken by Barack Obama, whose efforts over the past 4 years to curb carbon consumption and mercury emissions he lauds. Obama's positions on education, abortion and same-sex marriage also played a role in his endorsement, Bloomberg writes.
The mayor has some blunt criticism for both candidates, however. He writes that Mitt Romney "has a history of tackling climate change. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed on to a regional cap- and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels." But Romney "has reversed course, abandoning the very cap-and-trade program he once supported." He also notes that Romney "in the past … has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them."
As for Obama, Bloomberg writes that he has "found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing." Obama "ran as a pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder," he writes, but has since "engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it."
Those that tried so hard get the candidates to address climate change are glad that at least some attention is finally being given to the issue. "It's just unfortunate that it took a hurricane for politicians to wake up to the fact that climate change is here," Daniel Kessler, media campaigner for 350.org, a climate advocacy group, told ScienceInsider. "And it's only going to get worse if we don't take action."