As the 2012 U.S. presidential election winds down, both major-party candidates remain conspicuously quiet on the issue of climate change. President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney never said the word "climate" during their three debates, and they've scarcely mentioned it on the campaign trail all year.
But they haven't completely ignored it. At the Republican National Convention in August, for example, Romney joked that Obama wants to "slow the rise of the oceans" and "heal the planet," prompting guffaws and applause from the audience. In a new ad, that joke is painfully juxtaposed with the destruction from Superstorm Sandy:
The ad was produced by an advocacy group called Climate Silence, which has been chastising both candidates for not making climate change a campaign issue. It implies a link between global warming and Superstorm Sandy, something many scientists are hesitant to do because of all the climatological complexities in such an attribution.
Scientific caution isn't necessarily the same as scientific doubt, though. Advanced climate models have long predicted a general increase in the strongest, most destructive hurricanes, and scientists say we should expect more storms like Sandy as the planet's air and oceans heat up. Not only do rising temperatures boost the likelihood of violent, rainy hurricanes, but melting polar ice and warmer seawater can also worsen coastal storm surges via long-term sea-level rise — a phenomenon that unfortunately served as the butt of Romney's "heal the planet" joke.
Update: At a recent campaign event in Ohio, a woman asked Romney, "Do you still think the rising of the seas is funny?" Romney responded that "I never imagined such a thing is funny," noting that "I wrote a book, and there's a chapter on global warming" in which she can find his stance. Check out the video below:
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