Friday, October 16, 2020

Two Town Halls One Clear Leader

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden participated in head-to-head town halls on Thursday October 15th. The bellicose disposition that defined Trump's comportment in the first presidential debate carried over into his town hall. By comparison Biden's town hall included a series of sober exchanges on a wide range of topics from covid to climate. Obfuscation was the name of Trump's game in the first presidential debate and he stayed the course.

 Mike Pence followed suit in the vice-presidential debate. Trump elaborated upon this strategy lying his way right through the town hall, making some bizarre statements along the way. If the last presidential debate was defined by Trump's failure to disavow white supremacists, the more recent NBC town hall moderated by anchor Savannah Guthrie, was defined by Trump's failure to condemn crazy conspiracy theories like QAnon. Despite repeated opportunities he refused to take back his tweet that suggested Osama bin Laden was still alive. Trump's litany of lies included the absurd suggestion that 85 percent of people who wear masks get the cornavirus. He attempted to once again cast aspersions on the integrity of mail in voting, even though there continues to very little evidence to support his claim. He also lied about his support for preexisting conditions and Biden's tax plan. 

Biden's ABC News town hall moderated by George Stephanopoulos beat Trump in terms of ratings but Biden really won by showing himself to be a reasonable and capable leader. That leadership is evident in Biden's approach to the most serious problems of the day including things like tax reforms, race relations, and policing. Nowhere is the contrasting leadership styles more clear than on the subject of climate change. In one exchange Biden said the president calls global warming a "joke" but "I think it's jobs".

While Trump largely dismisses the science of climate change, Biden offered a raft of fact-based policy proposals. Here is a summary of some of what he said: Biden stated he would "stop giving tax breaks and subsidizing oil" and when asked about fracking he said he would make sure they curtailed their methane emissions, stopped polluting wells and causing earthquakes. As we undergo an energy transition he wants to provide jobs to unemployed oil workers capping the 100,000 wells that have been left uncapped. He also emphasized the importance of renewable energy. 

"What we have to do is the future rests in renewable energy. The single fastest-growing energy source in the world right now because I'm going to say something that's going to sound self-serving but I managed the Recovery Act and I was able to invest billions of dollars into bringing down the cost of the cost per BTU of wind and solar so now it's cheaper than coal and it's cheaper than oil right now and it has great, great promise.

And it's also the fastest-growing employer in the energy industry and so there are a number of things that I would do immediately." Biden said. 

He also stressed the need to siphon carbon out of the atmosphere, "we should be moving toward finding the new technologies that are going to be able to deal with carbon capture so all the millions of transition we moved from to a net zero emission of carbon that we're still going to be able to use if we find the right technology, some gases, some gas to be able to if we can carbon capture it. And I think we're going to be able to move in a direction by the year 2035 we'll be able to have net zero emissions of carbon from the creation of energy, energy creation." 

"I as president am going to invest that $600 billion we spend in government contracts only on those things that in fact also are not only made in America but building an infrastructure that's clean and new and what we have to do is focus on the transmission of energy across the country from areas relating to solar and wind" Biden said, pointing to significant progress in battery technology. He claims he is going to put a million people to work "weatherizing four million buildings and two million homes, because we'll save tons and tons of energy or billions of barrels of energy over time and at the same time provide significant employment and at good union wages, prevailing wages."

Biden wants to transition to zero emissions by including agriculture and conserving significantly more land to sequester carbon, particularly in places like the Amazon. He also supports investments and research into electric vehicles.


Climate, Environment and Sustainability in the Presidential Debate
Building Back Better: Job Creation through Green Recovery Stimulus Investments
Scientific American Endorses a Presidential Candidate for the First Time in its 175 Year History
Joe Biden's September 14th "Climate Arsonist" Speech
The Facts Call Americans to Vote for Leaders Who Support Science-Based Policy
Inflection Point: America's Turning Tide
Biden Leads the Most Climate Friendly Presidential Ticket in the History of the Democratic Party
Advocates of Climate Action and Environmental Justice Laud Biden's Selection of Harris as his Running Mate
Republicans, Conservative Groups, Veterans and Donors Opposing Trump's Reelection

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