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Five Questions for Presidential Candidates on Climate Change

posted Nov 30, 2014, 4:40 PM by Rob Hogg   [ updated Apr 8, 2015, 11:54 AM ]
Five Questions for Presidential Candidates on Climate Change

Prepared by State Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids

Here are five questions Iowans can ask candidates for President about climate change to improve the public discussion about this important issue:

1.     Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere went up 2.3 parts per million in 2014 and have just passed 400 parts per million (compared to a pre-industrial level of 280).  Nitrous oxide levels are around 325 parts per billion (compared to a pre-industrial level of 270).  Methane levels average around 1800 parts per billion (compared to a pre-industrial level of 722).  Do you support efforts to slow down and stop the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere?  Do you have a goal for stopping the buildup of these greenhouse gases?  Is there a danger level beyond which the world should not go?  How high are you willing to allow greenhouse gas concentrations to go?


2.     In 1987, President Reagan signed an international agreement (the Montreal Protocol) to fight stratospheric ozone depletion.  In 1991, President Bush strengthened that agreement.  Do you support international agreements to fight climate change?  What is your strategy for getting China and India more involved in the fight against climate change?  How about other large polluters like Russia, Europe, Japan, OPEC, Brazil, and Indonesia?


3.     Many Americans believe we need to slow down and stop the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  If elected, how would you reduce greenhouse gas pollution?  Do you support incentives like the renewable energy production tax credit that has helped grow Iowa’s wind and solar energy industries, regulations like the EPA’s carbon pollution rules, carbon fees, or something else?


4.     Damage levels from climate-related disasters are increasing in the United States.  Iowa has suffered 20 presidentially declared disasters since 2007, including the unprecedented damage from the Flood of 2008 that caused nearly $10 billion in damage.  What specific ways would you help Iowans and other Americans address climate-related disasters like extreme floods, drought, invasive species, rising seas, and ocean acidification?


5.     Last October, 2014, the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, released a report on climate change for the Department of Defense, stating that climate change “will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.”  Other military leaders have warned that climate change is a “threat multiplier” for security around the world.  How will you address the economic, humanitarian, and security consequences of disasters around the world like drought in Syria or typhoon damage in the Philippines?


By asking these types of questions, Iowans can help elevate the discourse about climate change before the 2016 elections.  It is not enough for a candidate to say he or she believes that climate change is real (or not real).  Iowans need to push our political leaders to address the reality of existing greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere, the ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, and the reality of climate-related disasters.