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Stewardship for all Creation

Friday, August 10, 2007

What will it take to get presidential candidates to commit to stopping human-caused global warming?

In a speech given at a ReEnergize Iowa rally this weekend, Jim Hansen called on presidential candidates to support a Declaration of Stewardship for the Earth and all Creation. Citing the success of public pressure and political leadership in solving the problem of ozone depletion, Hansen presented three points which such a declaration would cover: a moratorium on dirty coal, a gradually rising price on CO2 emissions, and increased energy efficiency and no-carbon energy sources.

"The bottom line," Hansen says, "is this:

"business-as-usual, if it continues for even another decade will be disastrous for the planet. We can have a stable climate, clean air, and an unpolluted ocean. And clean energies yield good jobs. It is up to the public to make sure that we get onto a path that stabilizes climate and allows all the creatures of Creation to continue to thrive on this planet.

It's interesting that a lot of the more detailed discussions that go on around global warming -- the pros and cons of biofuels, the question of "liquid coal," and the fact that plastics are made from petrochemicals -- are nowhere to be found in the declaration. Not being too picky about the details right now will allow candidates to support such a declaration without having to defend, again, their position on this or that specific issue (yeah, Obama, I'm talking to you). The point is to separate the wheat from the chaff: 'We need a way to smoke out who is serious, who will give priority to preserving creation for today's and future generations, and who, on the contrary, is subservient to special interests."

We can hope that the Declaration gains momentum so that candidates will state a position, but a stated position doesn't mean much in the end (see: status-quo Dems. Farm Bill, anyone? CAFE standards?). What we really need to do is hold politicians accountable.

In the meantime, you can see where many of the (Democratic) candidates stand on environmental issues in Grist's special Election '08 section.


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