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Voter Guide To Environmental Issues

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Saving the Environment May be Our Best Hope for the Economy -- Election Guide

From climate change to energy independence, a look at where the candidates stand on this year's top 10 environmental issues.

By AlterNet
Posted October 17, 2008

For full story see… Saving the Environment May be Our Best Hope for the Economy -- Election Guide

The pressing issues on Americans' minds today are the election and the economy. But as we cast our votes for who we think can best right a near sinking financial ship and throw a life preserver around our own economic prospects, there is another important issue to consider: the environment.

Our economic crises are intertwined with energy, food, water and climate issues. In order to save our economy we have to abandon a system that rewards polluters and stifles new, green solutions.

Leaders in the field of economic, green growth, like Van Jones, have called for a green economy, that will "lift all boats," so what is good for one group in the U.S. will be good for all and what is good for the planet will be good for people, too.

There is no doubt that the next president will need to tackle a whole bunch of environmental issues after taking office -- some of which are so important that the rest of the world is waiting and watching.

Clearly the most prominent of these is global warming. The world's leading scientists that form the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have found that human activity, namely the burning of fossil fuels, is dramatically affecting the Earth's climate. They found that over the next 100 years, we are likely to witness rising sea levels, which will displace millions of people in coastal areas; the loss of snow from all but the highest mountains, which will threaten water sources for people and nature; an increase in deserts, resulting in even less water; an acidification of the oceans, which will lead to the destruction of coral reefs; and an increase in the severity of heat waves, which already claim thousands of lives each year.

This would be an economic catastrophe as well as an environmental and humanitarian one as well.

As the world leader in greenhouse gas emissions, the United States thus far has played no part in working with the international community on solutions or making any commitments for change. Billions across the world are hoping that will change with our next election.

As Bill McKibben writes, "He who comes next is the Climate Change President." Across the globe, people are holding their breath to see whether the United States will finally join the rest of the world in trying to stop climate change. So who's the best pick?

Below, we take a look at where McCain and Obama both stand on this issue, but we don't stop there. We also examine nine other pressing environmental topics and how the presidential candidates match up. Of special interest are energy issues, which are of course also linked to global warming. The League of Conservation Voters reports: "An election-day poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that in 2006, energy was the most important issue for independent voters. In 2008, as gas prices skyrocket and time to head off the effects of global warming runs out, recent polling shows energy to the be the single most important issue for the entire electorate."

So where do the candidates stand on energy issues like drilling, nuclear, renewables, coal, energy efficiency and biofuels? And how do they compare on other hot-button environmental issues like clean air, green jobs and water?

Read below and find out what the candidates say they'll do and what they've actually done.

1. CLIMATE CHANGE

We face economic, humanitarian and environmental crises from unchecked global climate change, including the loss of important water sources that help quench the needs of our industry, agriculture and homes. Our coastal cities will also be threatened by rising sea levels, and the frequency and severity of storms are predicted to increase.

Solution: We need to pass a comprehensive bill on climate change to cut emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, as the world's leading scientists of the IPCC have prescribed.

Obama's position: Obama supported legislation to cut emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and has a plan to achieve that through a market-based cap-and-trade system.

McCain's position: McCain co-sponsored the first bill in the Senate calling for mandatory reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, in 2003. He supports action on climate change, but his proposals fall far short of what is recommended by scientists. His plan only calls for a 60 percent drop below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

For full story see... Saving the Environment May be Our Best Hope for the Economy -- Election Guide

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