Move over, Sunrise. NBC’s weak climate questions help make the case for a climate debate.

View the video in your browser

As members of the Sunrise Movement camped out in front of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters to demand a debate focused solely on climate, the second night of the first 2020 primary debate drew to a close.

Many users on Twitter have found a fresh reason to agree with the group of youth climate activists: the NBC-hosted debates themselves.

Self-proclaimed 2020 ‘climate candidate’ Washington Governor Jay Inslee has continued to push for a primary debate dedicated to the climate crisis. Many other Democratic presidential hopefuls got on board, but DNC Chair Tom Perez put the kibosh on the idea, saying having a dedicated debate to each topic “isn’t practical,” but vowing that the climate would be discussed.

But two nights have come and gone and many viewers were unimpressed. With just 8 percent of the debates total devoted to climate — 10 minutes out of two hours each night — voters were left wondering how candidates plan to address the impending climate disaster within the next decade.

And many of the questions could be seen as out-of-touch (Who should pay to mitigate climate disaster in America?) or showing a dated understanding of the topic (the premise that a president would have to choose between healthcare and climate). Many of Chuck Todd’s questions on the first night emphasized the potential costs or difficulties in taking climate action, without noting the danger or economic cost of not taking action.

It was enough to change some minds, including one MSNBC host:

I think I’ve changed my mind on the need for a climate debate. I see the DNC’s point that it opens up a set of asks for other specifically themed debates. BUT there is just nothing like the climate crisis and no way to wrestle with its scope in the context of a general debate.

— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 28, 2019

I think the first debate is doing the best job yet making the case for a climate change debate.

— Rebecca Leber (@rebleber) June 28, 2019

Wait, are we done with the debate on climate change already? What did I miss? I had just gone to the fridge to get my Diet Dr. Pepper and. when I came back.. okay, I guess so much for the greatest existential threat to the planet

— Dan Rather (@DanRather) June 27, 2019

There should be a climate debate and it should be moderated by someone with a basic fluency about the crisis. Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd’s questions might as well have been written by the American Enterprise Institute.

— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) June 27, 2019

These debates are making it clearer than ever to me that America doesn’t understand how the climate crisis touches pretty much every area of policy…health, mental health immigration, geopolitics, trade, manufacturing, etc. etc. etc.

— Emily Holden (@emilyhholden) June 28, 2019

But climate has been niche for too long, so anything short of a full debate is going to frustrate people.

Chuck Todd’s “we’re moving to climate, guys” is like the 2nd-rate treatment not far from Crowley’s 2012 “you climate people.” Not really framing for a full-blown crisis

— Rebecca Leber (@rebleber) June 28, 2019

Even Democratic Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii knocked NBC over the debates’ climate setup.

It is just not reasonable to expect to have enough time for a climate question that every candidate answers. That would eat in to the time set aside for them raise their hands for yes/no questions like it’s a game show.

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 27, 2019

One respondent to the Hawaii senator’s tweet poked fun at Todd’s rapid fire round on climate:

In one word, based on the current geopolitical threat, which character from Friends are you?

— Stallman’s Beard (@StallmansBeard) June 27, 2019

Sunrise Movement leader Varshini Prakash expressed her disappointment after the first night of debates:

And that’s it. A measly 9 minutes about the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes, with lame questions and mostly non answers from 4 out of 10 candidates.

I really, truly, perhaps naively, thought this time would be different.

We need a damn #ClimateDebate.

— Varshini Prakash 🌅 (@VarshPrakash) June 27, 2019

And of course, you can always count on Inslee to stay the course:

60 minutes in. No climate questions. @DNC: We need a #ClimateDebate. #DemDebate2

— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) June 28, 2019

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Move over, Sunrise. NBC’s weak climate questions help make the case for a climate debate. on Jun 28, 2019.

Many of the questions could be seen as out-of-touch or showing a dated understanding of the topic. […]Read More