CU is becoming a hosting ground for the discussion of climate change and its prominence in American society.
The Center for Environmental Journalism hosted a lecture Thursday evening in Eaton humanities titled, “Climate Change and the 2012 Election: The New Wedge Issue?” to discuss the issue of climate change in the political realm.
The lecture featured Washington Post journalist Juliet Eilperin, and Andrew Light, the director of the International Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress.
The guest lecturers spoke about the “wedge politics” regarding the past and current positions of the Republican, Democratic and Independent parties concerning climate change, and whether or not global warming will be an influential factor in the 2012 presidential election.
During the first portion of the lecture, national environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin lectured primarily about the Republican Party, covering topics like the relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency and the GOP presidential candidates, as well as the rise in climate skepticism among conservative Republicans.
Marilyn Schriner, a retired firefighter from Chicago and recreation worker at Brainard Lake, said that the Eilperin’s coverage of the Republican perspective on climate change was informative.
“The statistics for the Republican party were a really good starting point opening up a conversation about getting climate change discussed,” Schriner said. “I know my family is very Republican, so going to a family event at the beginning of October, this is perfect … just perfect ammunition.”
Marisa McNatt, a 26-year-old environmental journalism masters alum, said the contrasting perspectives of the lecturers was important for the full understanding of the issues discussed.
“It was interesting to hear the different opinions of the political analyst and the environmental journalist on this issue, and looking at the quantitative versus qualitative perspective.”
Andrew Light said that if President Obama desires to be re-elected, his campaign must make a straightforward, progressive climate message that can win Independent and Democrat votes, while risking the loss of Republican votes in which he would have lost regardless.
Steven Vanderheiden, professor of the Environmental Political Theory course, said that Obama most likely will not focus on climate change during this election.
“I doubt that there will be a lot of attention paid [to climate change] by Obama during the general election campaign,” Vanderheiden said. “Past performance is a good predictor of future performance, and he hasn’t made it a priority so far.”
Vanderheiden said that because Obama is the one democratic incumbent running in the 2012 elections, constituents concerned about climate change will support him rather than the other Republican candidates like Perry and Romney.
“If they [the government] can make it an economic issue, like opportunities for a green economy, then I think there will be some talk about that,” Vanderheiden said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Nina Holtz at Nina.firstname.lastname@example.org.