The Washington Post

Bloomberg: I want a president who will slow the rise of the oceans

I’m in the camp that doesn’t place much stock in the importance of endorsements, but this passage from Mike Bloomberg’s surprise endorsement of Barack Obama today is pretty noteworthy:

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief....

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week’s devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. ...

When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America...

One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.

In Romney’s convention speech, he mocked Obama thusly: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” Apparently Bloomberg thinks a president should be promising to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet.

In all seriousness, Bloomberg’s emphasis on climate change is welcome. He is doing what both candidates refused to do, which is to at least try to place climate change at the center of the agenda as we pick our next president.

Bloomberg hopes the devastation of Hurricane Sandy will make climate change an issue in the presidential race. Will it? I suppose it’s conceivable it could matter a bit at the margins. Some analysts think climate change and global warming matter to certain subsets of swing voters, such as independents and college educated women. The issue is also potentially resonant for them as a proxy for the question of which candidate has a vision of the future that’s more to their liking. These are the types of voters both candidates had hoped to reach with a Bloomberg endorsement. But climate change simply hasn’t been a major topic in the race. As John Broder put it recently, both candidates have tried “to outdo each other as lovers of coal, oil and natural gas — the very fuels most responsible for rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

Still, Obama is far better on the issue than Romney. He has backed broad climate change legislation, has been an aggressive advocate for more investment in clean energy, which he’s talked about on the stump, and dramatically increased federal fuel efficiency standards to curb carbon emissions. Romney opposes those standards, would strip the EPA of regulatory power and has struggled to explain how much stock he places in climate science. So perhaps Hurricane Sandy will matter a bit at the margins.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.

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