175-Year-Old Magazine Endorses Candidate for First Time

'Scientific American' backs Biden as climate change becomes a 2020 issue
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2020 11:00 AM CDT
Climate Change Enters the Election Debate
The sun is seen against a sky turned orange with smoke from wildfires as it sets near Sumner, Wash., south of Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Climate change emerged front and center in the election on Monday, at least temporarily. The big quote came from President Trump when he was discussing the West's wildfires with a natural resources official in California. "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch," Trump said. When the official replied, "I wish science agreed with you," Trump answered, "I don't think science knows." Joe Biden, meanwhile, called Trump a "climate arsonist" and said four more years would only make the wildfire situation even worse. Coverage, including the first-ever presidential endorsement from a long-standing science publication:

  • Big differences: Climate change hasn't been much of an election issue to date, writes Anthony Zurcher of the BBC, but it's a topic "on which Trump and Biden have sharp and substantive disagreements." He notes that while Trump has walked back previous assertions that climate change is a "hoax," his administration has rolled back dozens of environmental regulations and ditched the Paris climate accord. Biden says the US would immediately rejoin the latter if elected. In a close race, the debate on how to address climate change, if at all, "could make the difference between victory and defeat."

  • Stopping short: The Washington Post notes that when Biden made his case on Monday, he "stuck to promoting climate policies with wide support and avoided addressing politically thorny topics like the Green New Deal many liberal activists have demanded."
  • Forest management: The Post story notes that Trump continues to blame forest management for the fires. The piece makes the case that while that issue does play a role, ecologists say even extensive clearing of forest floors wouldn't have prevented this year's fires. The AP has a deeper look at the issue. "Scientists say wildfires are all but inevitable, and the main drivers are plants and trees drying out due to climate change and more people living closer to areas that burn," write Andrew Selsky and Adam Beam. "And while forest thinning and controlled burns are solutions, they have proven challenging to implement on the scale needed to combat those threats."
  • The politics: Biden "is trying to politically flip the script as they compete for suburban votes," writes Ben Geman at Axios. Trump says the suburbs are at risk from violent protests, but Biden said Monday the real threats to the 'burbs are from wildfires and floods. It will be worth noting how prominent climate change is in the debates beginning later this month, adds Geman.
  • An endorsement: The magazine Scientific American is making its first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history, and the nod goes to Biden because Trump "rejects evidence and science." Most of the piece centers on Trump's handling of the pandemic, but it says Biden's polices on the environment and climate change—including an emphasis on emissions-free power—are the way to go.
(More Election 2020 stories.)

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