13 September 2008

2008 Political Party Platforms - Environment

With the political conventions now completed, I decided to take a break from learning about how Sarah Palin did during her first interview and begin looking at the real issues surrounding this election. The new party platforms are now online and show what each party intends to do with their terms of power. It is refreshing to see both major parties showing concern for how we treat the planet, regardless of political persuasion. These quotes obviously represent selections from the various documents:

“Republicans caution against the doomsday climate change scenarios peddled by the aficionados of centralized command-and-control government. We can – and should– address the risk of climate change based on sound science without succumbing to the no-growth radicalism that treats climate questions as dogma rather than as situations to be managed responsibly.”

“Global climate change is the planet’s greatest threat, and our response will determine the very future of life on this earth.”
“We will lead to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide.”

“Because the issue of climate change is global, it must become a truly global concern as well. All developed and developing economies, particularly India and China, can make significant contributions in dealing with the matter. It would be unrealistic and counterproductive to expect the U.S. to carry burdens which are more appropriately shared by all.”

“We will reach out to the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to join a New Global Energy Forum that will lay the foundation for the next generation of climate protocols. China has replaced America as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia. We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia.”

“Government at all levels should protect private property rights by cooperating with landowners’ efforts and providing incentives to protect fragile environments, endangered species, and maintain the natural beauty of America. Republican leadership has led to the rejuvenation and renewal of our National Park system. Future expansion of that system, as well as designation of National Wilderness areas or Historic Districts, should be undertaken only with the active participation and consent of relevant state and local governments and private property owners.”

“We will create a new vision for conservation that works with local communities to conserve our existing publicly-owned lands while dramatically expanding investments in conserving and restoring forests, grasslands, and wetlands across America for generations to come…We will treat our national parks with the same respect that millions of families show each year when they visit. We will recognize that our parks are national treasures, and will ensure that they are protected as part of the overall natural system so they are here for generations to come.”

“…the United States should take measured and reasonable steps today to reduce any impact on the environment. Those steps, if consistent with our global competitiveness will also be good for our national security, our energy independence, and our economy. Any policies should be global in nature, based on sound science and technology, and should not harm the economy.”

“Never again will we sit on the sidelines, or stand in the way of collective action to tackle this global challenge. Getting our own house in order is only a first step. We will invest in efficient and clean technologies at home while using our assistance policies and export promotions to help developing countries preserve bio diversity, curb deforestation, and leapfrog the carbon-energy-intensive stage of development.”

“As part of a global climate change strategy, Republicans support technology-driven, market-based solutions that will decrease emissions, reduce excess greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, increase energy efficiency, mitigate the impact of climate change where it occurs, and maximize any ancillary benefits climate change might offer for the economy.”
“Because Republicans believe that solutions to the risk of global climate change will be found in the ingenuity of the American people, we propose a Climate Prize for scientists who solve the challenges of climate change. Honoraria of many millions of dollars would be a small price for technological developments that eliminate our need for gas-powered cars or abate atmospheric carbon.”

“This challenge is massive, but rising to it will also bring new benefits to America. By 2050, global demand for low-carbon energy could create an annual market worth $500 billion. Meeting that demand would open new frontiers for American entrepreneurs and workers.”
“We will implement a market-based cap and trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic change and we will set interim targets along the way to ensure that we meet our goal. We will invest in advanced energy technologies, to build the clean energy economy and create millions of new, good ‘Green Collar’ American jobs. Because the environment is a truly global concern, the United States must be a leader in combating climate change around the world, including exporting climate-friendly technologies to developing countries. We will use innovative measures to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of buildings, including establishing a grant program for early adopters and providing incentives for energy conservation. We will encourage local initiatives, sustainable communities, personal responsibility, and environmental stewardship and education nationwide.”

So there you have it. Both appeal to science and to energy independence. Both see possibilities to improve the economy through the environment. Both speak of the need to act in the face of climate change. I think in 20 or 50 years, we will look back, and see that these environmental issues we are dealing with now were even more important than we now realize. Many of the other issues that seem so important will fade away with time, but how we deal with the finite resources this planet has given us will end up determining much of what our future has in store for us.

To end on a side note, I found it amusing that both Republicans and Democrats mentioned hunting and fishing in their party platforms (Rep twice; Dem once), especially in context of preserving the environment. It’s as though they are saying, “As stewards of the earth, we will protect the environment for our children and for our future…and also so we can continue to hunt down and kill animals for sport…”


The Faithful Dissident said...

I'm new to your blog, but I appreciate your focus on the environment from an LDS perspective. It's something that I wish was more of a priority for members. I often feel like the odd-ball even at church because I try to cut down on paper, go the extra mile to recycle, cut out meat, etc. It bothers me that I always feel like I have to defend it. Especially the meat thing. :)

jallono said...

I appreciate the focus on platforms rather than personalities. We do need to focus on issues rather than personalities. I also think, however, that as part of considering the issues, the voting records and overall philosophies expressed by the candidates are just as important, if not more so, than party platforms, since individual candidates don't necessarily have to adhere absolutely to platforms. I lived in Arizona under John McCain and his environment record is not very good. Palin's record is even worse. I'm actually hoping that it turns out Palin can't make an intelligent speech without a teleprompter, because if she can, the ideas she'll promote will be dangerous. Of course, if the economy collapses and we continue to get involved in destructive, irresponsible, unjust wars, none of that will help the environment either. What was that John McCain said about his economic knowledge?

Back to the platform, though. I find it interesting that Republicans constantly mention "so long as it doesn't interfere with the economy." It should be obvious by now that a healthy environment is necessary for a sustainable economy, so the only way I can interpret those statements is "so long as long-term environmental health doesn't get in the way of short-term economic gain." Also, what's sound science? Nearly every study done with Republican oversight that I've seen has been proven faulty and downright fraudulent. Nothing against all republicans (that's what most of my family is), but they just don't have many issues to stand on this election, and their platform on the environment still sounds outdated (even after they have tried to update it some).