Over at The Week I have a column looking at how the U.S. categorizes climate change as a threat. It is a response to statements made by Senator Rand Paul, downplaying former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s statements that climate change should be a first-order threat. The specific comments in this instance are less important than the general tenor of the debate about this issue, which has so often been lacking in rigor and specificity. If either politician seeks the presidency in 2016, they will need to get much more serious about it:

Those seeking the highest office in the land in 2016 would do us all a favor by making their thoughts clearer on the extent to which they agree that there is a need for more immediate and far-ranging action. Politicians participating in a presidential election in which some forecast $2 billion will be spent owe the voting public much more specific information than has so far been offered during this shadow campaign phase.

And while Sen. Paul has not started the conversation on the strongest foot, he has at least been helpful in kicking off the discussion. We can only hope that it is merely the first step in a dialogue that eventually puts climate change firmly in the upper rank of threats.

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