Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Conservation In Mind – Presidential candidates and combatting climate change

By Frances Lamberts

A recent Pen Points cartoon, depicting a typical highway sign, noted get-away choices for leisure-vacation trips.

Indicated by left- and right-turn arrows, these included hurricanes and heat waves, drought and wildfires, the virus pandemic reachable in either direction.

For the dire situations brought on by climate change, the sign might usefully add arrows reminding us of the upcoming presidential elections. Below are examples what the arrows for Candidate A (with lengthy senatorial history followed by White House stint as vice president) and Candidate B (with lengthy history in real estate business and television, and current White House occupant) might reveal as concerns the climate issue.

Mr. Biden has shown great consistency in government initiatives to mitigate climate impacts from fossil energy use, thereby protecting our shores and landscapes and wildlife, and reducing the climate-damaging carbon emissions.

The League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard reveals him almost always voting for measures to expand renewable sources, greater efficiency in electric and automobile-fuel energy, and aid to low-income families for home-insulation and other energy-saving means. Bills to combat global warming directly, such as McCain’s Climate Stewardship Act and others, would receive his steady support while such as would aggravate greenhouse gas emissions would see him in opposition. Among the latter were attempts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and coastal lands to oil drilling, and give over more federal public lands to energy extraction.

While in the White House, he helped get many of the then administration’s successes toward reducing climate-warming emissions off the ground.

For Mr. Trump, consistency in approach to climate change, its reality, cause and impacts has been lacking.

Before the 2009 UN Climate Conference, as then businessman he signed an open letter to “Dear President Obama and the United States Congress.” It urged stringent carbon-emissions targets, since the “catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet, if we fail to act now” are known through science. And, as the Associated Press has reported, “when his golf resorts are affected, Trump believes in global warming” — fronting his International Golf Links and Hotel in Clare County, Ireland, its beach being eroded by “storminess” under climate change, an ocean wall is being built to protect the resort.

Yet directed by executive orders during his White House stay, many of more than 100 environmental-rules revisions involve the weakening or reversal of climate-protection measures, including fuel-and energy efficiency rollbacks, pipelines approval and expanded use of federal lands for fossil-fuel extraction and, notably, withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

As we suffer with West Coast Americans under the horrific wildfires, and with fellow citizens everywhere who lose homes or their lives in “extreme weather events,” let’s hope for a strong climate vision to emerge in the presidential debates, to be carried out by whoever will be the next occupant of the White House.