The New York Times Dot Earth Blog
Too Much, Too Many
You're right. I didn't pose the right questions in my February 6 post (#21). So here goes with a first few that the Presidential candidates should be asked and asking: (April 4th post #76)
1. High energy prices are here to stay, along with the tense geo-politics of access to oil and natural gas. What would your Administration do to face these realities and keep them from sapping our economy, putting our soldier and Marines in harm's way, and biting into our hip pockets? (See the James Woolsey video clip)
2. As President Truman said about his office, "The buck stops here". Candidates should show that they would be climate leaders by framing issues and challenges. Each of them should be asking the public, "Why should Americans demand government accountability on climate change now when there are so many other profound and pressing problems pressing in on us?" (Iraq, the economy and health care just being the most talked about.) Then each of them should answer the question again and again until it becomes part of what Americans expect to hear about in the 2008 race.
3. What would your Administration do to stimulate innovation in the next generation of technical, financial and consumer climate developments?
4. Is Tom Friedman right when he says, "Green is the new red, white and blue?"
[ANDY REVKIN belatedly says: You stopped too soon. What are the right questions?]
Sallan says Andy Revkin's "Endless Pursuit of Unnecessary Things" asked the wrong questions.
This Presidential election season is a good time to ask the right ones. Read Nancy's comment #21 in response to Revkin's Feb 6 Posting.
By asking about the sustainability of our collective future in terms of “how many people” and “how much will they consume”, I hear Four Horsemen in Hair Shirts clattering toward us to save the planet! But when they arrive, will Americans, Chinese and everyone else mend their “too many and too much” ways in the face of war, famine and disease? Fear and want rarely bring out the best in us and dire conditions can turn anyone into an immigrant or a case of population excess. Perhaps this Hair Shirt foursome will make us profligates mend our ways and emulate the environmentally virtuous, but don’t count on it.
Today, sustainability and climate aren’t make the cut of top issues in the US Presidential race. The fact is that by casting these critical issues as a matter of consumer choice and lifestyle is deeply apolitical and it means that they won’t make the cut. But it’s not too late to find the public and collective aspects of a path toward sustainability, but we have to start by asking the right questions.