Elections

Paul Krugman Says Media ‘Criminally Irresponsible’ For Avoiding Climate Talk

REUTERS/Chip East

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Chris White Tech Reporter

New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman is crying foul about the lack of media attention given to global warming issues during this election year’s presidential debates and forums.

Global warming is the most important issue confronting the country, Krugman wrote Friday in an editorial for the NYT. He also said it would be “criminally irresponsible” if the media sought to blackout questions about the presidential candidates’ climate policies.

He believes the problem is especially important given the staggering differences between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton on environmental issues.

“If Hillary Clinton wins, she will move forward with the Obama administration’s combination of domestic clean-energy policies and international negotiation — a one-two punch that offers some hope of reining in greenhouse gas emissions before climate change turns into climate catastrophe,” Krugman explained.

But if Trump wins, Krugman added, climate change skepticism and paranoia about China creating global warming “will become official doctrine, and catastrophe will become all but inevitable.”

The Nobel Prize winner also suggested the media focuses too much on the failures of green energy companies such as Solyndra, SolarCity and Tesla Motors. They should instead be more critical toward Trump’s belief that China concocted global warming “to hurt U.S. competitiveness,” Krugman lamented.

Journalists should also focus on the Obama administration’s tightening of fuel efficiency standards, he said, adding that President Barack Obama’s policies have done more to reduce greenhouse gasses than any other president. Krugman sees no reason to believe Clinton won’t enact the same kind of policies.

He went on to cite polls showing millennial voters worried about environmental issues – and used those polls to suggests that nearly half of youngsters believe there is no actual difference between Trump and Clinton on so-called man-made global warming.

“Yes, I know, people should be paying more attention,” he wrote, “but this nonetheless tells us how easy it is for voters who rely on TV news or don’t read stories deep inside the paper to miss what should be a central issue in this campaign.”

He said polls also show voters have moved away from skepticism and toward mild concern about the effect pollution and greenhouse gasses have on the climate.

A Gallup poll from March shows that 31 percent of Republicans think environmental issues are important, which is the lowest level of concern since 2001. In fact, only 10 percent of Republicans worry a great deal about global warming, compared to 36 percent of Democrats, according to the Gallup data.

“Climate change and the quality of the environment rank near the bottom of a list of concerns for Americans, who are instead far more worried about more basic economic issues such as the economy, federal spending and the affordability of healthcare,” Gallup reported in March.

So, while Americans are becoming more concerned about climate change, other issues, such as the economy and national defense, represent the bulk of voter fears, despite Krugman’s suggestion that the issue if of utmost importance to voters.

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