Posts Tagged ‘environment’

The 2012 Election’s Biggest Loser: Planet Earth

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

“Hey, don’t I get a vote?”

This election may be the biggest rip-off of America’s democracy in recent memory.

Sure, we have choices between blue and red. Our candidates claim to offer stark ideological differences and visions for our country. Vast swaths of Americans will enthusiastically pick their man and hope for the best, and many others will swallow their disappointment and opt for the lesser evil.

But let’s be clear: when it comes to Planet Earth, our only home, we have a patently false choice.

While both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have advocated sustainable forms of energy, neither has mapped out a legitimate approach to living in a world with finite resources. In all three presidential debates, there was no mention of climate change. From a foreign policy standpoint, there was no appreciation that America’s shining example of consumption and wealth has motivated the rest of the world to try to live like us, and that our planet cannot support such habits indefinitely.

This omission points to a serious failure by our various communities of knowledge to convey to one another the gravity of our circumstances in language that each side can understand. I use the term “failure” because these presidential candidates are supposed to represent the grand sum of our country and culture to the rest of our world; that is the definition of leadership. Although both men are politicians and therefore have to evade the hard questions and sell empty promises as part of their campaigns, they are still faced with an enormously difficult job, and based on our democratic process, they are supposed to be the most qualified candidates we have.

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Meg Whitman Loves the Environment?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

To California liberals, conservative Republican candidate for governor Meg Whitman, whose political travails I chronicled here, here, and here, might not actually be as frightening as she first appeared. Despite swinging extraordinarily far to the right to defeat Republican primary opponent Steve Poizner (including outspoken anti-environmental rhetoric), a quick look at Whitman’s charitable contributions reveals a very different attitude.

Meg Whitman might be nicer to this horse and his environment than anyone previously thought.

In its first year (2007), Whitman’s personal charitable foundation, the Griffith R. Harsh IV and Margaret C. Whitman Charitable Foundation, donated $100,000 to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). That was 80% of the foundation’s total donations. In 2008, Whitman did even more: the foundation doubled its contributions to the EDF and donated an additional 1.15 million dollars to Valley Floor Preservation Partners, an environmental protection organization in Telluride, CO.

All of this information is available on the nonprofit database Guidestar and comes directly from the organization’s 990 disclosure form.

Will these donations be a harbinger of things to come for Whitman’s environmental stance? Whitman seems to already be moving strongly toward the center on the environment, as the San Francisco Chronicle notes:

Whitman assailed AB32 as a job-killer during the Republican primary campaign. Asked at a debate May 2 whether humans cause climate change, she said, “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”

She has toned down her criticism of the law since winning the primary. Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said last week that Whitman, during her one-year moratorium, would “bring accountability and strong leadership to the AB32 process so the regulations effectively reduce our emissions while strengthening our economy.”

On top of this, there is no mention of AB32 anywhere on Whitman’s own web page about the environment, only fairly vague, centrist policies.

It looks like environmentalists may be able to breathe a little easier as Whitman’s campaign picks up steam (and burns through money): even if Whitman does defeat Democrat Jerry Brown, her charitable contributions might speak much more to her real positions regarding the environment than any charged rhetoric can.