Candidates Outbidding each other on Global Warming?

For too long, the debates and reporters questions on the news shows have simply ignored the pressing realities of Global Warming and Peak Oil and other energy/environmental issues. (Thus, What are they waiting for?) Amid all the problems of yesterday’s Republican and Democratic debates, one must give Charlie Gibson for at least raising the issue with both the Republicans and Democratic candidates.

And, when it comes to the responses, it looks like the Democratic Party candidates are now in the position of trying to outbid each other for more aggressive responses to the challenges and the Republican candidates are mainly engaged in a process of proving whose head is further buried in the sand.

To the Republicans, Gibson put in a question re oil prices. Ron Paul used that as a chance to argue for going back to the Gold Standard. Guiliani supported “Clean Coal”. Romney called research. Only McCain even hinted at Global Warming as part of a pretty good overall answer to the challenge:

At that price of oil we’re going to send $400 billion a year overseas to oil producing countries. Some of that money will end up in the hands of terrorist organizations. It will certainly end up in the hands of dictators who do not have our interests or our values and sometimes want to harm America. We have to reduce the dependence on foreign oil, and we have to eliminate — we have to address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. I think it’s a nexus of two critical issues facing this country. Alternate energy, nuclear power, wind, solar, tide, hybrids — we have to unleash the technology of America, and we must reduce and eventually eliminate this dependency on foreign oil because it has become a national security issue. And we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because I believe there’s enough evidence that we are going to damage this planet beyond repair unless we begin to address that issue.

One has to believe that speaking to reality will hurt McCain among a good portion of the Republican faithful.

None of the other Republicans thought a question re oil, re energy evidently had anything to do with Global Warming. That is, of course, in the unlikely case that it exists …

Democrats outbid each other to top Lieberman-Warner

Unlike with the Republicans, there were multiple questions re energy and Gibson directly asked the Democratic candidates about Global Warming. He also phrased the question in a challenging way, as to why the candidates did not favor a carbon tax (as Senator Dodd proposed as part of his campaign).

In terms of the responses, what is valuable to note is that, for the most part, all of the candidates gave strong responses.  All spoke forcefully in favor of carbon reduction and of a Cap & Trade program.

Governor Richardson pointed to his strong percentage targets. Senator Clinton eloquently spoke to the type of programs required to make this a reality.  And, Senator Obama emphasized that there needs to be 100% auctioning of all pollution permits under a Cap & Trade program (thus, a Cap, Auction, & Trade). 

This is good. It is hard to imagine that, just a few years ago, that the Democratic field would all be targeting an 80% reduction by 2050 (at least) and that 100% auction of pollution permits would be on the table.

This is real progress.

But, there are concerns. Will Senators Obama and Clinton take their strong talk to the Senate floor and ensure that the reckless Lieberman-Warner American Climate (in)Security Act (with its giveways of over $500 billion in pollution permits to serial polluters) is not put before George W. Bush for signature? 

And, in terms of political rhetorhic and in terms of understanding the challenge and reality, there is the real concern about understanding about the situation and the benefits for action. 

“Sacrifice …” This is a word that can and might be used. But look at how Senator Obama used the term:

But we’re also going to have to ask the American people to change how they use energy. Everybody is going to have to change their light bulbs. Everybody is going to have to insulate their homes. And that will be a sacrifice. But it’s a sacrifice that we can meet. Over the long term, it will generate jobs and businesses, and can drive our economy for many decades.

Sacrifice?  “Over the long term, it will generate jobs and businesses …” 

  1. “Long-term”?  Huh? If we are to have an economic stimulus, capital projects to improve energy efficiency are an excellent place to start.  Put construction workers (not building homes) to work lowering the cost of operating government, businesses, homes tomorrow.
  2. “Sacrifice” to change light bulbs and insulate homes?  Anyone else asking “huh”? 

Yes, sacrifice might be required.  Might … That might, however, is countered by the fact that there will be tremendous benefits from taking the actions to reduce Global Warming’s impacts and from moving our (and the Global) economy off fossil fuels. From improved health, to improved jobs situation, to reduced trade deficits, to improved national security, a systems-of-systems examination of the benefits of mvoing to counter-act fossil fuel pollution and our near-total dependence on oil for our transportation requirements.

No, not sacrifice, but investment in a better future. It is time to stop our credit card habits, that are putting us as individuals and us as the US ever further into debt to pay for our daily living expenses. Investing in energy efficiency. Investing in renewable energy. Investing in developing new technologies and new approaches for a carbon-free future.  These are investments, not sacrifice, that will pay off for all Americans.

Yes, “sacrifice”, because just as we sacrifice as individuals today when we put aside money for investing for tomorrow, we can sacrifice as citizens to invest in a stronger and better tomorrow for the United States. 

Thus, speak to investing, together, in a stronger and better future. 

NOTES

SUPPORTING MATERIAL: Here is the transcript material from the Democratic debate:

GIBSON: All right. Let me turn to something else.

Reversing — you invoked the name of Al Gore a few moments ago — reversing or slowing global warming is going to take sacrifice.

I’m sort of sorry Chris Dodd isn’t here because he’s talked a lot about a carbon tax in this election. Al Gore favors a carbon tax.

None of you have favored a carbon tax. Is it a bad idea, or is it just so politically unpalatable that you guys don’t want to propose it?

RICHARDSON: Can I answer?

You know, I was energy secretary. It’s a bad idea. Because, when you have a carbon tax, first of all, it’s not a mandate. What you want is a mandate on polluters, on coal companies, on those that pollute, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a certain target.

Under my plan: 30 percent by the year 2020; 80 percent by the year 2040. It takes international leadership. The better way to do it is through a cap-and-trade system which is a mandate.

Furthermore, a carbon tax, that’s passed on to consumers, that’s passed on to the average person, that’s money you take out of the economy.

So it’s a bad idea.

Cap-and-trade is a mandate, but it’s also going to take presidential leadership. It’s going to take all of us here, every American, you know, to think more efficiently about how we transport ourself, what vehicles we purchase, appliances in our homes.

It’s going to take a transportation policy that doesn’t just build more highways. We have to have commuter rail, light rail, open spaces. We’ve got to have land-use policies where we improve people’s quality of life.

GIBSON: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: Well, I agree with Bill that I think a cap-and-trade system makes more sense. That’s why I proposed it: because you can be very specific in terms of how we’re going to reduce the greenhouse gases by a particular level.

Now, what you have to do is you have to combine it with a 100 percent auction. In other words, every little bit of pollution that is sent up into the atmosphere, that polluter is getting charged for it.

OBAMA: Not only does that ensure that they don’t game the system, but you’re also generating billions of dollars that can be invested in solar and wind and biodiesel.

I do disagree with one thing, though, that Bill said, and that is that on a carbon tax, the cost will be passed on to consumers, and that won’t happen with a cap-and-trade.

Under a cap-and-trade, there will be a cost. Plants are going to have to retrofit their equipment. And that’s going to cost money, and they will pass it onto consumers.

We have an obligation to use some of the money that we generate to shield low-income and fixed-income individuals from higher electricity prices.

But we’re also going to have to ask the American people to change how they use energy. Everybody is going to have to change their light bulbs. Everybody is going to have to insulate their homes. And that will be a sacrifice. But it’s a sacrifice that we can meet. Over the long term, it will generate jobs and businesses, and can drive our economy for many decades.

CLINTON: Charlie, let me make a connection here that I think is really important.

I think the economy is slipping toward a recession — the unemployment figures on Friday hitting 5 percent, the $100 a barrel oil that we also hit this week, the fall of the dollar. There’s a lot of pressures on middle-class families, and the kind of costs that they have to keep up with have all gone up astronomically.

I mean, you know, the energy costs for the typical family in New Hampshire since George Bush has been president have tripled. And that’s far beyond what the costs of the tax cut that they got from George Bush.

So, what we’ve got to do is use energy as an opportunity to actually jump-start economic recovery. We need to quickly move toward energy efficiency. We should require the utilities to begin to work for energy efficiency and conservation, costs that will be shared and decrease the pressure on families.

We need a weatherization and low-income heating emergency program that is out there now helping families in New Hampshire and elsewhere to cover their costs.

And we need to look at how doing what is right about energy is not only good for our security and good for the fight against global warming, but it will be essential in dealing with the economic challenges that we face.

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4 responses to “Candidates Outbidding each other on Global Warming?

  1. Pingback: Energizing America: The E2 Solution Path — The energy speech for the next President … « Energy Smart

  2. The more produced on The Global Warming the more made reader wondering at APPROACH to a problem.

    All the planetary history is a perfect testimony to a naturally sustained climate change, of which global warming processes are part of, otherwise, for instance, no coal depositories had been discovered in Arctic/Antarctic.

    As mentioned already, solar radiation and space rays add significantly to a global reality where ozone depletion and climate change have been natural processes following the unstoppable deteriorating of the biosphere accustomed, which is a process of natural aging the Earth is being affected with:

    http://omega.twoday.net/stories/302957/

    Therefore, the complex a d o p t i n g to planetary changes rather than playing digits of exhausted gases’ exchange is seen to be a major task for realists as call for “doing something with global warming” sounded alike “let’s postpone a sunrise”.

  3. Pingback: E2 Solution for Energizing America to a Better Tomorrow

  4. Pingback: E2 Solution for Energizing America to a Better Tomorrow - The Seminal :: Independent Media and Politics

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