There are many actions that each of us, individually, can take to counteract anthropogenic climate change. We can focus on energy efficiency—switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs, better insulating our homes, and choosing efficient appliances. We can reduce consumption—carpooling, investing in alternative home energy systems such as solar hot water, photovoltaic electricity, wood stoves instead of oil or electric. We can purchase personal carbon offsets when we travel, in so doing, investing in companies that are producing clean and renewable energy. We can think more broadly about sustainable practice in every aspect of our lives—buying locally so as to reduce the energy required to produce and transport goods, eating organic foods that do not require fossil fuel-based fertilizers nor aggressive soil-damaging farm practice. We reduce, reuse, recycle. And all of this is good, and necessary. But it is not enough. As we convert ourselves to more sustainable living we also need to convert our communities. Individual actions are essential, and are the first step to positive global change, but at the same time we need to think more comprehensively about far-reaching change. Community activism and raising awareness are key, and these activities require strong leadership – scientific, educational, economic, political. Perhaps the single most important action that any of us can take is to choose elected officials who have the commitment, the skill, and the vision to effect change. Outstanding political leadership, at the local, state, and national levels is needed—now more than ever—to design incentive and conservation programs, to support energy alternatives, and to collaborate internationally on effective global stewardship.
With this in mind, the students of EAS 220 have reviewed the positions of the major presidential candidates, both Republican and Democratic, on issues of climate and energy policy. A summary is provided for each candidate, with links for more information, and each student has assessed the candidate’s position and awarded him/her a letter grade for overall effectiveness and potential.
Alexandra Moore, Ph.D.
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences