By Fredrica Syren:
It’s that time again when the media bombard us with election news. Of course this time the main topic is the economy, so we get to know very little else about what the candidates stand for, particular regarding “green” issues. By November, 2012, eco-minded Americans searching for a president to represent their views on the preservation of natural resources will have been spent thousands of hours dissecting speeches, sound bites and campaign literature.
Even if caring for “Mother Earth” is not necessarily a partisan issue, environmental issues and politics are linked. Matters concerning the environment are woven into candidates’ speeches each election cycle. Eventually the debt ceiling debate will be settled and the focus will return to the candidates vying to become the next commander in chief.
So what are the main “green” issues in the year’s election?
Clean Energy — The energy industry and candidates are currently focusing on ways to provide jobs and affordable energy services to Americans. Reduction of reliance on foreign oil, the hydraulic “fracking” process, solar power and the environmental impact of coal mining have long been issues addressed by members of both political parties.
Climate Change — Whether candidates refer to the issue as global warming or climate change, concerns over greenhouse gases and drastic changes in weather patterns remain. Candidates will be expected to answer questions concerning threatened ecosystems, promotion of lifestyle changes, grant funding and technological advancements that can be used to detect environmental abnormalities. There is also the question of whether or not the candidates believe this is a man-made issue.
Water Quality — Our global reserves of drinkable water are a fraction of 1%: 1 in 5 humans do not have access to potable (safe) water. Desalinization is an energy inefficient, expensive option. All of this is at the top of the discussion list for many environmentalists and hopefully will be for the candidates as well.
Biofuel Technology — This has turned into a global controversy. Reducing American reliance on foreign oil and developing Earth-friendly alternatives to fossil fuel were brought up in the last election, and hopefully will be front and center during 2012 political debates. Decades of debate and millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded grants have been thrown at the problem with no solution to the problem yet. Investing in private companies and research to further advancements in biofuels, batteries, and electric and solar powered vehicles will be hot topics on the campaign trail for both liberals and conservatives.
Waste and Consumption –– Overconsumption remains a problem in the United States. Despite advocacy group initiatives and grant-funded recycling programs, the U. S. is one of the world’s largest consumers of plastic. While some progress has been made, we still have a long way to go with so many disposable products and the growing amount of waste in America. One positive note is that the failing economy has caused people to look for more recycle, reuse and swap options.