Op-Ed: Twelve Questions for Presidential Hopefuls
SED’s Douglas Zook on bringing the environment into the campaign
After 20 debates and millions of print, broadcast, and online words from the candidates, and those speaking directly to the candidates — the press — we still do not hear many of the key issues of our time addressed. One would think that health care, jobs, the economy, and the war have nothing to do with a healthy environment, global warming, ecology, and our future existence. It is ironic and tragic that universal health-care proposals ignore the reality that a successful health-care system, of any kind, depends on building and maintaining a healthy Earth. In this election, health care and the environment remain woefully separated, and the latter even ignored.
As the November election draws closer, here are some fundamental questions that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain must be asked:
- What specific, concrete actions would you recommend to the American people so that they, as individuals, can contribute to solving the energy crisis?
- How will you make the United States a responsible leader in confronting global climate change?
- How, and how soon, will you create alternative energy programs that reduce our dependency on petroleum?
- Would you consider creating a new cabinet post focused solely on combating global warming and climate change?
- Do you see global climate change on a par with terrorism as a national security threat?
- Do you feel a responsibility to propose a new American Dream, based on the scientific reality that we have very limited resources on the planet — an honest message that living simpler and with sustainable agriculture and business practices is required?
- Given that large forested areas are critical to maintaining global water distribution and for absorbing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, what specific measures will you work out both here and with other countries to help ensure the perpetuation of such ecosystems?
- With the decline in fish species along the coastal United States — and indeed, over much of the globe — how will you help provide for new job training and other measures to coax fishermen away from the seas until fish stocks are able to rise to healthy levels again?
- What are your plans for ensuring that schoolchildren receive ongoing exposure to learning about our dependence on the Earth’s resources?
- Low-income people and people of color are often the primary victims of disrespect to the Earth through government and private policies. What measures would you propose to assist those disadvantaged residents who may become victims of severe hardship because of global climate change?
- Each sport utility vehicle (SUV) contributes tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year and of course perpetuates greatly the need for petroleum searches and petroleum-based wars. Would you consider a tax or other penalties as well as incentives to help citizens move away from such damaging luxuries?
- Given that the campaigns and the media have ignored these fundamental, far-reaching questions, how can you now convert inconvenience to courage and truth to reality?
Douglas Zook is an associate professor of curriculum and teaching, with a focus on science education and global ecology, in the School of Education. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments