Just the Tree of Us
Newsweek, April 14 2008
In his April 14, 2008 article, Jerry Adler explores the differences and similarities among the three remaining candidates for President.
- "It was clear starting all the way back in Iowa and New Hampshire that this campaign would be much more about the environment," says Dave Willett, a spokesman for the Sierra Club. "The questions weren't 'Do you think global warming is happening?' but 'How are you going to deal with it, what's your approach?'"
- McCain is an appealing figure to some environmentalists precisely because he is a Republican from a Western state, whose occasional departures from Republican orthodoxy seem to be grounded in genuine conviction.
- Environmentalists agree that the two Democrats, whose positions are mostly indistinguishable, are considerably ahead of McCain.
- Both Democrats ... set a target of 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and 60 billion gallons of biofuel annually by 2030. McCain is more supportive of nuclear power.
- "Whoever is elected," says Berkeley's Kammen, "will need a pretty good energy plan as part of their first hundred days' agenda."
Just the Tree of Us
By Jerry Adler
April 14, 2008
Driven by public concern, all the candidates agree that action is needed to slow global warming. No matter who's elected, America's policy will be different a year from now.
At this vital juncture in the earth's history, it's clear that the American people are looking for a presidential candidate who will take climate change "very seriously." One who favors "unbiased research" into the problem and promises to support regulations that are "based on science." Someone, perhaps, like George W. Bush, who in 2000 managed (in those words) to convey just enough assurance of his good intentions to defuse global warming as a make-or-break issue in the campaign. After seven years of inaction on greenhouse-gas emissions, Bush can honestly claim that he hasn't changed his position. "I take the issue seriously," he told a news conference at the end of last year.
Even back then, of course, the leaders of environmental groups understood that their interests aligned more closely with Al Gore, who would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against global warming. This year, though, those leaders want to make sure there's no confusion on the part of the voting public. The environment, which typically ranks somewhere around "regulatory reform" among voters' concerns, has emerged as a leading issue in this election cycle; last year more than three voters in 10 said they would take a candidate's green credentials into account, according to pollster John Zogby, up from just 11 percent in 2005. "It was clear starting all the way back in Iowa and New Hampshire that this campaign would be much more about the environment," says Dave Willett, a spokesman for the Sierra Club. "The questions weren't 'Do you think global warming is happening?' but 'How are you going to deal with it, what's your approach?'" Willett presumably means questions from citizens. Climate-change skeptics and deniers sometimes charge that the threat of global warming is a conspiracy kept alive by the media, but the reality seems rather different. The League of Conservation Voters tracks how often candidates are asked about environmental issues in televised debates and interviews, and the current tally shows that of 3,231 questions by the leading political reporters from five networks, exactly eight concerned global warming.
The league, which generally calls the tune for most mainstream environmental groups when it comes to national politics, hasn't chosen a candidate for 2008. Officially, it is keeping an open mind, while waiting for John McCain to elaborate on his global-warming plan. But it would constitute a major political upheaval if the league, for the first time since it began making presidential endorsements in 1980, chose the Republican. In its ranking of senators based on their positions on 15 votes in 2007 (including farm subsidies, gas mileage and biofuel standards), the Democrats are almost all clustered in the top half of the standings, while the Republicans, with a couple of exceptions (essentially, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine), bring up the rear. Specifically, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are considered strong environmental candidates. In addition to the annual rankings, the league maintains lifetime standings, which may be more significant than those based on a single year's votes. The Illinois senator has a 96 percent lifetime voting record; Clinton has a 90 percent lifetime rating and was endorsed by the league as an "environmental champion" in her 2006 re-election campaign. "It's clear from both of their voting records in the Senate that they're committed to supporting energy efficiency and slowing global warming," says league spokesman Jay Natoli. "In fact, they're too similar to say at this point that one is better than the other. [As for] McCain, his plan isn't as strong, but he has sponsored and supported legislation that shows he cares about the environment. But at this point, we're not ready to endorse."
To read the full Newsweek article, please CLICK HERE.
Print This Page