The US Presidential elections are taking place later this year (election day is November 8th 2016) and environmental issues are extremely timely right about now, in the wake of the historical Paris Climate Summit and with the continued emergence of data supporting, “Climate change is here to stay and yes, it’s caused by us...duh”.
While some may argue that there are competing arguments about climate change (conspiracy theories, anyone?), likewise, there are currently groups of deeply confused individuals who argue that the world is flat (yes really)
For the rest of us who buy into the scientifically-supported notion that climate change is a critical issue that needs to be curbed, it’s interesting to take a look at the mixed-bag of front-running Presidential hopefuls and make note of who thinks what about climate change.
Over his term, President Obama’s climate change agenda has made great strides in legitimizing and prioritizing climate change, and he is leaving the office with an important message to whoever will precede him: don’t fck this up.
Let’s review the top candidates from an environmentalist’s point of view, in the absence of other agendas.
Arguably the most misdirected yet creative type of climate-science-denier, Cruz has virtually zero interest in acknowledging the legitimacy of the great body of science supporting climate change.
Cruz prefers the term ‘skeptic’ over ‘denier’ as he fancies himself a scientist, and good scientists are after all, skeptical. This is of course not to mention the fact that virtually all scientists to date agree that climate change is in fact a very real and pressing matter.
Regardless, science-man Cruz is pushing for an American Energy Renaissance Act which excludes greenhouse gases from regulation by the EPA, leaves federal lands exposed to oil and gas exploration, and streamlines various oil projects on both land AND on water.
Verdict: Complete and utter tool
Another decidedly anti-science presidential frontrunner, everyone’s favourite villain Donald Trump vehemently denies climate change.
Well, not only does he deny climate change, but he simultaneously welcomes it with open arms, tweeting “we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”
Trump has been known for his strategy of focussing on vague concepts without any specific plans or intentions to back them up and this seems to apply doubly for his stance on the environment. He appears to be blissfully unaware that the economy relies deeply and inextricably on a finite number of natural resources.
Verdict: Also a complete and utter tool but without pretending to be scientific
Probably the most proactive advocate for environmental awareness and action among the presidential hopefuls, Sanders has an established climate record that stretches far back into his time in the senate.
He aligned with Obama by citing in his first democratic debate that climate change is the biggest national security threat.
He was also a strong advocate against both Keystone and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and believes that the president needs to have a stronger stance in taxing carbon as part of their agenda in order to meaningfully curb the effects of climate change.
Sanders seems to truly ‘get’ the urgency behind climate change. He calls on social reform as much as governmental intervention and believes that the entire nation (government included) needs to mobilize NOW to invest in clean energy and provide a future for generations to come.
Verdict: He really gets it, and he wants it to happen now. #FeelTheBern
As opposed to Bernie, Clinton was in support of the TPP from the beginning, despite turning around her stance in her presidential campaign. Currently, she claims that climate change is an important and urgent challenge that needs to be addressed. Clinton is in support of Obama’s Clean Power Plan and has revealed plans to assist with the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.
While Clinton’s stance on climate change is certainly less urgent as Sanders, she also recognizes the importance of the issue and potential for investment in the clean energy sector. Instead of provoking social change via lobby groups and putting on the pressure for immediate action, she is taking a more slow-moving and ‘through the system’ approach to climate action.
Verdict: She gets it, but it may take a while.