Joe Biden at  the DNC

Climate, the campaign and the conventions

Both Trump's Mar-a-Lago and Biden's Wilmington Amtrak station may be swamped by sea level rise. So let's talk?

Something that speaks volumes about the environment's low-level standing in American politics is how the environment wasn't spoken about in volumes at this week's Democratic National Convention.


First, a little digression. This week's Democratic Convention, and presumably next week's Republican gathering, are absent the traditional crowds. Scripted "spontaneous applause" breaks and balloon drops are out. For the Dems at least, they substituted a political infomercial. It was at times slickly-produced and inspirational; at other moments I suspected that Jerry Lewis was about to spring back to life with an oversized telethon check.

Young activists

Alexandria  Villase\u00f1or

On Wednesday, climate change got its five minutes of increasingly intense sunshine. It was a montage featuring young activists and their partial remedies for a crisis that, unlike the deep but hopefully transitory tragedy of COVID-19, is already locked in for decades to come. The star of the brief climate cavalcade was Alexandria Villaseñor, the 15 year-old New Yorker being cast as America's homegrown Greta Thunberg. The only office-holder who focused on clean energy and its promise of new jobs was New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

For most of the four-night vote-cast, rising party stars shared the spotlight with party veterans: Three ex-presidents, two ex-first ladies, failed 2020 presidential candidates, and multiple senators, representatives, governors. None, save for Grisham and California Gov. Gavin Newsome, focused on climate change.

Existential  threats

Al Gore

One that might have is Al Gore, who was absent from the Convention. Not only has science and reality vindicated his four decades of advocacy on climate, but, long before 2016, he was the poster child for losing the Presidency by winning the vote but not the Electoral College. Gore has since been recognized with an Oscar and a piece of a Nobel Peace Prize, but never by his own party.

He's also been reviled by climate deniers and turned into a caricature by Republicans, all for being right about the multiple existential threats. Another reason for the Party to hear from Gore: His experience with denial and contempt for science is prologue for the rampant denial now in full bloom with the coronavirus pandemic. If contempt for science is a hallmark of America's COVID-19 failures, Al Gore has a story to tell us all.

In Thursday's acceptance speech, Joe Biden listed climate as one of four simultaneous crises, along with COVID-19, the economy, and race relations. "It's not only a crisis, it's a tremendous opportunity" for economic growth, he said.

All wet

Biden  Amtrak Station

Biden's speech took place in America's lowest-lying state, Delaware. I did a little eyeball research on Google Earth, where Amtrak's recently-renamed Joe Biden Wilmington Station is six feet above the current sea level—just like the clubhouse at Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf resort.

The Republicans meet next week, where we'll likely be treated to a few anti-regulatory, anti-science, climate-denying screeds.

Maybe after that, we'll get to see who's all wet. Maybe both parties. Maybe all of us who live near a coastline.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist. His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences. Contact him at pdykstra@ehn.orgor on Twitter at @Pdykstra.

solar power schools

Solar power at Pennsylvania schools doubled during the pandemic

“If this growth continues, schools could set Pennsylvania up as a clean energy leader and not just the fossil fuels we’re known for.”

NORTH BRADDOCK, Penn.—On Wednesday evening, 10th grader Abby Wypych stood in front of Woodland Hills School District’s board and urged them to approve a feasibility study on installing solar panels.

Keep reading...Show less
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Green options transforming wedding industry
JimGermond

Green options transforming a wedding industry prone to waste

NEW YORK (AP) — The wedding industry remains fraught with waste, but a growing contingent of brides and grooms is pushing for more sustainable changes, from the way they invite guests to the food they serve and the clothes they wear.

Suicides indicate wave of ‘doomerism’ over escalating climate crisis

While alarm over wildfires, droughts, flooding and societal unrest is on the rise, not many of us talk about climate angst.

Beyond magical thinking: Time to get real on climate change

Energy scientist Vaclav Smil says it’s time to stop ricocheting between apocalyptic forecasts and rosy models of rapid CO2 cuts and focus on the difficult task of remaking our energy system.

Climate change could expand forests. But will they cool the planet?

Climate change could lead to a net expansion of global forests. But will a more forested world actually be cooler?

'Carbon bomb' projects are hurting any hope of meeting climate goals

NPR's Emily Feng talks with Oliver Milman, environment correspondent for The Guardian, about how U.S. fossil fuel projects are damaging efforts to limit climate change.

Connecticut schools will soon be required to teach climate change. Here’s why

Connecticut schools soon will be required to teach climate change as a part of the science curriculum, a move state legislators and advocates say will mean changes at a small percentage of schools that aren’t yet bringing the subject to the classroom.

From our Newsroom
environmental justice

Op-Ed: Black gold and the color line

How historical racist redlining practices are linked to higher exposures to oil and gas wells.

Our mothers' gifts: Readers respond

Our mothers' gifts: Readers respond

We asked you to share one "big lesson" your mother gave. And you responded

Lake Mead

Dykstra: A corpse in a barrel in a drying reservoir

And other climate change tales for our age

A mother's gift

Gifts from our mothers

What one "big gift" did your mother give you? We want your story.

Bird photography

Earth Day 2022: Amidst the crises, don’t forget the beauty

Words and images from our founder, Pete Myers, on how bird photography keeps him connected to and curious about a planet in peril.

fracking pennsylvania

Public health in Pennsylvania ignored during fracking rush: Report

A new report outlines the alleged missteps in protecting Pennsylvanians from the health impacts of fracking.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.