Sunday, February 3, 2008

Voting to Protect the Planet

Since Super Tuesday is this week, I thought that I would spend a few minutes thinking about which candidates' positions would be best for the planet...

First of all, I urge all of you to check out this chart at Grist Magazine.

Grist does a great job at discussing the positions of the remaining candidates on many facets of the Climate Crisis.

The most important factors in my opinion after looking at the scientific recommendations of what will be needed to avert a major global warming crisis are these...

1. Globally, we must lower carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
2. A Cap and Trade system to do so seems the most likely to be politically possible in this country, but a carbon tax would be much more efficient according to most economists.
3. On fuel economy standards... the higher the better in my book. Why don't we just jump to 100 mpg and level the playing field with the rest of the world?
4. Renewable Energy: We need a market stimulus of a required 25% of the country's energy portfolio ASAP, and we need to fund R&D in this field in the billions!
5. Biofuels: Scientifically this is tricky as to effectiveness. Cellulosic ethanol offers the most promise, but can't yet be produced on an industrial scale. I support R&D funding in this area, but not over-subsidizing corn.
6. "Clean Coal": I would support this if it could work, but so far there are no indications that it will. And, coal-to-liquid fuels would actually worsen the carbon emissions of our fuel.
7. Nuclear: This could be a useful last-resort source of energy, But, there are a lot of problems with storage and safe disposal. It's likely that renewable energy and efficiency options would be much cheaper.

And, finally, whoever becomes president will not only need to deal with this issue at home, but will need to be able to be persuasive abroad as we must work with the developing world to truly deal with this global problem. And, this is not an issue to be seen in isolation. If a "green" economy becomes a goal for this nation, it could also be an outstanding source of economic stimulus and job creation. So, the issue of climate change is inseparable from the economy, poverty, and foreign relations.

Based on the work Grist has done in looking at the candidates' positions, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied on the Democratic side, either would be a huge step forward on this issue for the nation. (Mike Gravel's positions are also very strong, but as far as I know he is no longer in the race.) On the Republican side, John McCain shows the most leadership on this issue. But, his targets are not strong enough to avert severe climate damage, he does not support renewable energy strongly enough, and his support for coal-based energy and fuels could be dangerous.

Now... get out there and vote green mamas! The next generation is counting on us to solve this crisis, and we can't do it alone. It will take real leadership from our nation!


1 comment:

Ally said...

Great post, Jessica. I was just thinking today that it would be nice to have this all summarized, and here you've gone and done it for us! Thank you!