The Right Choice – Why, for our planets sake, President Obama must be Re-Elected
The Right Choice
Why, for our planets sake, President Obama must be re-elected
“Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain, For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain. America, America, man sheds his waste on thee, And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.”
― George Carlin
It doesn’t matter which man wakes up on November 7th this year as President of the United States, whoever it is will have to continue the task of dragging the most powerful nation on Earth out of the economic quagmire in which it currently wallows. The US however, and therefore the world, is without a doubt better off than it was four years ago. Yes, America is healing, but she is still sick. Unemployment is high; confidence in four more years of Barack Obama is debatable in some circles. It’s understandable then that the one thing pushing this election, driving the American people to vote, possibly even to change their political allegiance is their economy. They need jobs and they need to be able to feel the change they were promised four years ago by that fresh-faced senator from Illinois.
What does this 2012 election mean for the planet we live on though? A planet that is in just as much need of a recovery and change as are all the world’s economies. Unfortunately the environment has no say in its own future and will not be featured much at all as the election heats up in the coming weeks. The environment cannot choose between two people, between two political parties, between two ideologies, as the American people will do on November 6th. So those of us who care about the planet we live on, a planet we share with millions of other species and organisms, many of which we depend on for our own existence, will just have to hope the right man is picked for the job.
That man, in my opinion, is Barack Obama. When he was elected back in 2008, Obama immediately signed the Federal Sustainability executive order. It required federal agencies to increase energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption, conserve water, reduce waste, support sustainable communities and promote environmentally responsible products and technologies. This was a President that had just taken charge of an economy collapsing beneath him. He didn’t forget his promises to help the environment however, and to slow the rapid, dangerous addiction to depleting oil supplies and invest in and promote wind, solar and other green technologies. The energy produced by these technologies has doubled since he took office in 2008 and is still on the rise.
Obama is not perfect however, as nobody can be. His administration’s decision allowing Shell to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean is disastrous. Considering he had a front row seat when BP’s Deepwater Horizon hemorrhaged almost 5 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, it is an astonishing decision which I fear he will one day regret. While that decision has the environmental community fired up, Obama has voiced strong opposition to proposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and has refused to open coasts off the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards to the hungry oil and gas industries.
The next big decision for the President (if he gets re-elected) will either make or break his environmental legacy and will be one of the most important decisions he will make as commander in chief; the Keystone XL Pipeline, if approved, will carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta across the American heartland to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The consequences of leaks or an explosion anywhere along the route would be catastrophic. The writer and journalist John H. Richardson described the proposed pipeline as ‘central to the debate over the future habitability of planet earth’. It must not be allowed to be built, and in the end, if re-elected, it will be down to Obama to stop it.
The environmental community must accept that no President can be perfect. If there is enough pressure from big businesses, the oil and gas industry and the GOP, then bad decisions will be made. A Romney White House however, would be a leap backwards for the progress made over the last 4 years by a President who actually cares. Mitt Romney is a man who, despite widespread scientific thinking and evidence, believes man is either not a contributing factor at all or not a very significant contributor to climate change.
Romney is a man who rejects completely Obama’s efforts to introduce CO2 emission regulations, stating, “I disagree with that. I exhale carbon dioxide. I don’t want those guys following me around with a meter to see if I’m breathing too hard.” He is a man who promises one of the most unrealistic goals any Presidential candidate has ever made; to make the US energy independent by 2020. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t also one of the most dangerous pledges any presidential candidate has ever made. Romney would set out to achieve this by opening up almost every conceivable piece of land and ocean to oil and gas companies.
From the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and countless National Parks, they would all be sucked dry of any natural resources under a Romney administration. He is also a man that given the power the Oval office, would immediately give the go ahead for the Keystone Pipeline to be built. Romney is trying to justify these proposals by saying they would empower energy production and create jobs across the country. But at what cost? Donella Meadows, the great pioneering American environmental scientist once said “You may be able to fool the voters, but not the atmosphere”. Let’s hope that come November 6th 2012 Mitt Romney has not succeeded in fooling the American people.
“To the Last Drop: Canada’s Dirty Oil Sands” (Part 1) >
“To the Last Drop: Canada’s Dirty Oil Sands” (Part 2)
**The views and opinions expressed in this editorial guest post do not necessarily reflect the views and or opinions of The Environmental Blog.
About The Author:
Matthew Oxley is an award winning marine, wildlife & conservation photographer based in Cornwall, England. He is currently working on a long-term project addressing the rapid decline of the European Starling. Visit his website at: www.matthewoxleyphotography.com
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