Joe Biden at  the DNC

Climate, the campaign and the conventions

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.

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

In congested Istanbul, e-scooters find a home

The global proliferation of the two-wheelers has reached the Turkish metropolis, and one company in particular is dominating the market.
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.

failed coal mine threatens WA electricity grid
denisbin/Flickr

Failed Griffin Coal mine owes close to $1.5 billion to creditors as WA electricity grid woes loom

The failed coal mine in Collie, 200km south of Perth, owes close to $1.5 billion to creditors, with the banks urged to "come clean" on their losses to avoid a potential disaster in WA’s biggest electricity grid.
gas exploration in Australia's Lake Eyre
denisbin/Flickr

Future gas exploration in Lake Eyre could upset the 'greatest desert river system in the world' forever, research shows

The gas industry has been mining Australia's Lake Eyre Basin for decades, but possible future extraction techniques like fracking could devastate its fragile ecosystem.

Want a career saving the planet? Become an electrician

Installing all of the solar panels, the heat pumps and transmission lines needed for the clean energy transition will require something that the United States currently doesn’t have: lots and lots of electricians.

Pakistan floods: 'It’s like fighting a war with no end'

Pakistan's worst floods in years have left millions homeless and lacking clean drinking water.

Three ways to build back smarter after hurricane Ian

Big storms more becoming more common. That makes it crucial to take climate change into account when rebuilding.
From our Newsroom
Chemical recycling grows  along with concerns of its impacts

Chemical recycling grows — along with concerns about its environmental impacts

Industry says chemical recycling could solve the plastic waste crisis, but environmental advocates and some lawmakers are skeptical.

Failure of the universities: The culture gap is now near lethal

Universities are failing us

Our educational systems are failing to prepare people for existential environmental threats

Shell's new petrochemical complex in southwestern Pennsylvania

The Titans of Plastic

Pennsylvania becomes the newest sacrifice zone for America’s plastic addiction.

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Developing countries that increase their fossil fuel production are at a crossroads: securing their own long-term well-being or earning revenue to finance programs to support immediate economic growth.

Solving the climate crisis will help both ‘sacrifice zones’ and ‘cute’ puffins

Solving the climate crisis will help both ‘sacrifice zones’ and ‘cute’ puffins

Curbing pollution for families in Chicago calms the climatic conditions that drive fish away from puffins half a continent away.

puffin tern recovery climate change

Good news: A good year for puffins and terns, despite climate change

A visit to a remote Maine island finds puffins and terns rebounding despite climate change

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