If the presidential debate planned for Thursday night had taken place as planned, it’s likely that climate change would have been a topic. The first debate featured the longest discussion of climate change of any United States presidential debate to date. But while the issue has gotten unprecedented attention this cycle, climate policy in the U.S. still has a long way to go, says Jennie C. Stephens, dean’s professor of sustainability science and policy at Northeastern.
For the most part, says Stephens, the government’s approach to climate science has been to engineer technological fixes to problems such as rising greenhouse gas emissions, wildfires, and drought—a kind of whack-a-mole where global health is at stake.
The first—and possibly only—presidential debate of the cycle highlighted this approach, says Stephens, who is also director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and director of strategic research collaborations in the Global Resilience Institute.