In the first democratic presidential debate, Sen. Kamala Harris declared “It’s the climate crisis,” to draw contrast to the softer terms often used to describe climate change. She, along with many other democrats, hope it will spark urgency.
E&E News’ Nick Sobczyk’s article “How climate change got labeled a ‘crisis’” published July 10, 2019, explores the evolution of the messaging and if using the word crisis will bring swifter action. Barry Rabe, professor of public policy, explained "This is a way to try to demonstrate that this is not just an issue that you can realistically kick down the road for 20 or 30 years.” While he is not sure that it will end the political stalemate entirely, Rabe pointed out that it could become a “rallying cry” for policy solutions like carbon pricing.
Rabe also shared he thinks the term crisis is a justifiable one to use, for politicians and journalists alike because the scientific research warrants it. "If you're simply trying to underscore this threat compared to other kinds of threats that might be facing the American population and the world, both near term and long term, I think it's very fair.”
Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School. He is also the Arthur Thurnau Professor of Environmental Policy and holds courtesy appointments in the Program in the Environment, the Department of Political Science, and the School for Environment and Sustainability. Barry was recently a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and continues to serve as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His research examines climate and energy politics and his newest book, Can We Price Carbon? (MIT Press) was released in spring 2018.