09/12/2012 05:06 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2012

A Sharp Contrast on Climate

Now that the fanfare of both party conventions has come to a close, the choice voters face in November is more clear than ever, especially when it comes to confronting the climate crisis.

During his speech at the Republican National Convention, one of Mitt Romney's biggest applause lines came when he mocked then-Senator Obama's 2008 call to address climate change: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans -- [pauses for audience laughter] -- and to heal the planet. My promise... is to help you and your family."

Romney's opposition to policies that curb harmful global warming pollution is well documented, but this line -- given as he was accepting his party's nomination for president -- takes his climate callousness to a whole new level. Worse, Romney's punchline reveals that he does not understand that protecting the planet will help our families, now and in the future. Just ask those families in Colorado affected by wildfires. Or the families throughout the Midwest suffering from record droughts. Or the families in Florida threatened by rising sea levels. These families cannot afford to have a president who ignores the impacts of a changing climate.

During his own convention speech, President Obama delivered a direct rebuttal to Romney's climate joke and the climate deniers backing his campaign:

My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet -- because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They're a threat to our children's future. And in this election, you can do something about it.

And the president's words were backed up by his recent actions. In the days leading up to the convention, President Obama announced the single biggest step the United States government has ever taken to reduce global warming pollution: finalizing historic new national fuel efficiency standards that will make our cars go further on a gallon of gas, which will dramatically reduce our carbon footprint.

Unfortunately, Romney was not content to leave his climate ignorance at the convention -- doubling down during last weekend's interview on NBC's Meet the Press: "I'm not in this race to slow the rise of the oceans or to heal the planet."

The past two weeks have made clear that we face a stark choice this November -- and when it comes to confronting the climate crisis, that choice is obvious. To Mitt Romney, climate change is nothing more than a punchline. For President Obama, it is one of the great challenges of the 21st century.

For those of us who care about addressing climate change, it's easy to be frustrated by a system that makes big change slow and difficult. But the change necessary to usher in a new clean energy economy and reduce global warming pollution will never happen in a Romney administration influenced by Big Oil. With 53 days until Election Day, now is the time to stand up for President Obama and the clean energy future he is fighting for.