Summary of the Democratic town hall on climate change

Yesterday, CNN hosted a seven-hour climate change marathon where 10 candidates in sequence faced about 40 minutes of questions from the moderators, scientists, and others about their climate change plans. Rolling Stone had a summary of the key points, saying that “We can’t pretend it was fun. But it was historic: This is almost certainly the longest stretch of programming a U.S. news network has ever dedicated to the topic of climate change. We watched all ten of the candidates make their case for their candidacies on the basis of their plans to keep the planet from overheating.”

The format enabled the candidates to speak more expansively on the topic, especially important since the debates have largely ignored the issue of climate change and the responses there are so brief as to be not very enlightening on this topic.

Bernie Sanders has fully embraced the Green New Deal and said that protecting the Earth is a existential issue. Pete Buttigieg said of the inaction on this issue that “Congress right now is like a room full of doctors arguing over whether medication or surgery is the best approach, and the other half are saying cancer doesn’t exist.”

The writers gave props to Elizabeth Warren for shooting down the kinds of irrelevancies that the media and Donald Trump focus on that distract from the seriousness of the issue. (Cory Booker was even asked, if you can believe it, if him being a vegan “meant he would attempt to ban or restrict meat and dairy from American diets”. Really.)

Warren touted the plan on Wednesday night, but her most memorable moment may have come when she scoffed at Chris Cuomo’s question about whether the government should be in the business of telling Americans which kinds of lightbulbs they should use. “Give me a break,” she said before noting that there are a lot of different ways to curb energy consumption. “But this is exactly what the fossil-fuel industry hopes we’re all talking about. They want to be able to stir up a lot of controversy around your light bulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers, when 70 percent of the pollution, of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air, comes from three industries.”

“That’s where we need to focus,” she added. “And why don’t we focus there? Corruption!”

Very on-brand. In the best way possible.

Good for her. She has become extremely adept at challenging and countering media framing of issues.


  1. brutus says

    I want very much for Elizabeth Warren to fix her flaws, admit her egregious mistakes, and move the discussion forward. Hard to believe yet, however, that she can overcome her past or stop her obvious posturing. Of any of the candidates, she demonstrates the best ability to see through the BS and take corrupted folks to task. But that might just mean she should be Attorney General instead of President.

  2. John Morales says


    [About 9,600 results (0.56 seconds)]

    the building industry, the electric power industry and the oil industry.

    (No need to thank me for my under a minute’s worth of effort in researching and answering your query)

  3. Michael Sternberg says

    John M.: Sources, please.

    I happen to find different claims. Given spam filters, I can list just one in full, and it has the fingerprints of the current administration on it:

    Under the sentence “The primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are:” it lists:

    Transportation, Electricity production, “Industry” (?), Commercial and Residential, Agriculture, and the kicker: Land Use and Forestry, with only in the text stating that the last item actually acts as a sink: “(offset of 11.1 percent of 2017 greenhouse gas emissions)”.

    Another reference I found is at, listing, in this order: Power plants, Manufacturing Facilities, and Agriculture. It *looks* reasonable but I have not fully assessed the credibility of this source.

  4. anat says

    Michael, John was quoting Warren’s speech, see for example here.

    Regarding which industries really contribute the most, much depends on how one defines ‘industry’ and the boundaries between industries. (Yikes, the spell checker complained about industry between quotes, but not with just one quote-mark.) But the big point is that most individual choices have very little impact (even if joined by many individuals) as long as structural issues such as what sources do we use to produce electricity aren’t dealt with.

  5. Holms says

    John Morales,
    But I did conduct a search for it: I typed it into /singham and waited for results to appear.

  6. John Morales says

    Holms, I didn’t insinuate you hadn’t searched for it, I merely found for you the information you requested. I was less unsuccessful than you, that’s all.

    Michael, what anat wrote.

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