Trump vs. Biden: The Important Role that Climate Change, the Environment and Pollution Will Not Play in the 2020 Presidential Election

by Raymond S. Heyman

We are just weeks away from the national Presidential election. The two major party candidates, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden, could not be farther apart philosophically than they are on the important issues of climate change and environmental stewardship.

President Trump’ s position is summarized in the following statement issued by the White House:

“Americans have long been told that our country is running out of energy, but we now know that is wrong. America’s energy revolution has produced affordable, reliable energy for consumers along  with stable, high  paying jobs for small businesses-all while dropping carbon emissions to their lowest level in 25 years. American energy policy must balance environmental protection with economic growth in order to encourage innovation, discovery and prosperity.”

Former Vice President Biden’s position is summarized by the following from his official campaign website:

“From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat-not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being. It also damages our communities with storms that wreak havoc on our towns and cities and our homes and schools. It puts our national security at risk by leading to regional instability that will require U.S. military-supported relief activities and could make areas more vulnerable to terrorist activities.”

While these positions are prominent in the minds of the politicians and the media, and the debate rages in some circles over which candidate is correct, a recent Gallup poll surprisingly revealed that the issues of climate change, environment and pollution are ranked as among the least important of the problems facing the country in the minds of U.S. adults. A poll conducted by Gallup, Inc. from July 1-23 posed this question to more than 1,000 adults: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”  As reported by Forbes Magazine in its article, ” Biden vs. Trump: The Battle Over American Energy Policy and it’ s Consequences”, by Tika Dolish (August 8, 2020), key results of the survey included: “A plurality, 30%, chose ‘coronavirus/diseases’ as the most important problem, followed by ‘the government/poor leadership’ (23%), ‘race relations/racism’ (16%), ‘unifying the country’ (6%), and ‘crime/ violence’ (5%). Among economic problems, 9% of the respondents chose the ‘economy in general’, unemployment, and the wealth gap. Notably, ‘climate change/environment/pollution’ came in at the very bottom of the list, garnering just 1% support.”[1]

Regardless of whether the challenges of the pandemic and civil unrest are foremost in the minds of adults or there simply is an overall lack of urgency regarding climate change and the environment, if the results of the Gallup poll accurately reflect the priorities of the electorate, these crucial issues will apparently not play an important role in determining who will be the next President of the United States.

[1] A discussion of the survey and its results can also be found at “More Americans Cite COVID-19 as Most Important U.S. problem”, by Lydia Saad, August 5, 2020, available at https://news.gallup.com/poll/316751/americans-cite-covid-important-problem.aspx.

 

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