The Second Debate: Kenneth Bone Saves the Day

I am running behind. My intention this week was to cover two of the most contentious issues in this election period – not only within the US but globally: immigration and trade. I discussed immigration in a series of blogs in August and September but I didn’t discuss trade because I thought it was outside my scope of focus on this platform. I was wrong. Immigration and trade are both indicators of globalization, which in turn is the central indicator of the new era dominated by humans: the Anthropocene (February 3, 2015 and May 3June 14, 2016). I have talked about globalization mainly in terms of common threats – the most pressing of which I see being climate change. However, globalization can also help increase global wellbeing. Trade is not a zero sum game, it can benefit us all. As I mentioned in the last blog, globalization – as any socio-economical change, can result in winners and losers. The mechanism for sharing the benefits is a transfer of wealth from the winners to facilitate assistance for the losers. Good government should be judged by its determination and success in making that happen. These are appropriate topics in presidential debates but immigration was hardly mentioned in the first debate and any talk of trade was limited to negative implications.

The second presidential debate on Sunday, October 9, went well beyond all of this. It took place immediately after a tape was leaked in which Donald Trump was seen and heard going after women – married or single – in a way that made not only the country, but the world cringe in disgust. His polls declined sharply and the Republican Party found itself on the verge of implosion. Donald Trump attempted to downplay or disregard any fallout from his actions, concentrating instead on throwing red meat to keep at least his most dedicated supporters happy.

Unexpectedly, toward the end of the debate, most of which was an all-out brawl, two questions posed by audience members within the Town Hall setting, presented welcome exceptions.

The last question asked the candidates to name one characteristic they admired in their opponent. Trump actually came with a much better answer than Clinton did but both were exceedingly trite. It was obvious that the two cannot stand each other.

The question that interested me most was the penultimate one, posed by Mr. Kenneth Bone. It was in line with everything that I care about in this blog, so I am posting the discussion in full below:

QUESTION: What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs, while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers? (Mr. Kenneth Bone)

COOPER: Mr. Trump, two minutes?

TRUMP: Absolutely. I think it’s such a great question, because energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Under absolutely siege. The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, is killing these energy companies. And foreign companies are now coming in buying our — buying so many of our different plants and then re-jiggering the plant so that they can take care of their oil.

We are killing — absolutely killing our energy business in this country. Now, I’m all for alternative forms of energy, including wind, including solar, et cetera. But we need much more than wind and solar.

And you look at our miners. Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There is a thing called clean coal. Coal will last for 1,000 years in this country. Now we have natural gas and so many other things because of technology. We have unbelievable — we have found over the last seven years, we have found tremendous wealth right under our feet. So good. Especially when you have $20 trillion in debt.

I will bring our energy companies back. They’ll be able to compete. They’ll make money. They’ll pay off our national debt. They’ll pay off our tremendous budget deficits, which are tremendous. But we are putting our energy companies out of business. We have to bring back our workers.

You take a look at what’s happening to steel and the cost of steel and China dumping vast amounts of steel all over the United States, which essentially is killing our steelworkers and our steel companies. We have to guard our energy companies. We have to make it possible.

The EPA is so restrictive that they are putting our energy companies out of business. And all you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or places like Ohio, which is phenomenal, or places like Pennsylvania and you see what they’re doing to the people, miners and others in the energy business. It’s a disgrace.

COOPER: Your time is up. Thank you.

TRUMP: It’s an absolute disgrace. COOPER: Secretary Clinton, two minutes.

CLINTON: And actually — well, that was very interesting. First of all, China is illegally dumping steel in the United States and Donald Trump is buying it to build his buildings, putting steelworkers and American steel plants out of business. That’s something that I fought against as a senator and that I would have a trade prosecutor to make sure that we don’t get taken advantage of by China on steel or anything else.

You know, because it sounds like you’re in the business or you’re aware of people in the business — you know that we are now for the first time ever energy-independent. We are not dependent upon the Middle East. But the Middle East still controls a lot of the prices. So the price of oil has been way down. And that has had a damaging effect on a lot of the oil companies, right? We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas, which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. And I think that’s an important transition.

We’ve got to remain energy-independent. It gives us much more power and freedom than to be worried about what goes on in the Middle East. We have enough worries over there without having to worry about that.

So I have a comprehensive energy policy, but it really does include fighting climate change, because I think that is a serious problem. And I support moving toward more clean, renewable energy as quickly as we can, because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses.

But I also want to be sure that we don’t leave people behind. That’s why I’m the only candidate from the very beginning of this campaign who had a plan to help us revitalize coal country, because those coal miners and their fathers and their grandfathers, they dug that coal out. A lot of them lost their lives. They were injured, but they turned the lights on and they powered their factories. I don’t want to walk away from them. So we’ve got to do something for them.

COOPER: Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: But the price of coal is down worldwide. So we have to look at this comprehensively.

COOPER: Your time is up.

CLINTON: And that’s exactly what I have proposed. I hope you will go to HillaryClinton.com and look at my entire policy.

COOPER: Time is up. We have time for one more…

The question and answers emphasized the role of government in addressing the socio-economic issue at hand and the people that are directly impacted by the current and next steps regarding our energy transition. Both candidates answered the question in full and emphasized their fundamental differences on this important issue. I only wish that the full debate had been conducted in this spirit.

Many news organizations crowned Mr. Bone as the winner of this debate. I fully agree.

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About climatechangefork

Micha Tomkiewicz, Ph.D., is a professor of physics in the Department of Physics, Brooklyn College, the City University of New York. He is also a professor of physics and chemistry in the School for Graduate Studies of the City University of New York. In addition, he is the founding-director of the Environmental Studies Program at Brooklyn College as well as director of the Electrochemistry Institute at that same institution.
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