Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Global Climate Change Presidency

The Global Climate Change Presidency

The next U.S. President could have significant impact on global climate change, yet Senator Obama’s policy is more about energy. Senator McCain’s policy addresses the larger scope of global climate change.

My personal research is relevant to the presidential candidates’ energy and climate change policies, because the two candidates seem to have vastly different understandings of climate change and potential underlying causes of change. (The research is on beliefs about climate change and I am looking for always looking for additional participants: .) Advertising not withstanding, I’ve been thinking a great deal about global warming.

Some voters are not convinced that global warming is occurring. Others believe strongly that global warming is occurring. Those who believe strongly in global warming are not in agreement about the cause. Some attribute the warming to human activity (i.e., anthropogenic). Still others who believe in global warming are split among a variety natural causes, such as solar radiation due to sunspots, etc.

The Obama campaign has no clearly stated policy on global warming; There is no discernable action plan relative to what the Obama / Biden ticket will do to tackle this extremely important issue. Instead, Obama’s energy plan makes vague reference to reducing greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, the McCain campaign has published a clear statement on climate change policy, albeit brief. Like the Obama plan, the McCain plan presupposes that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Unlike Obama, McCain provides extensive detail about how a market-based cap and trade policy will encourage an overall lowering of greenhouse gases.

Double-fault: Obama. Obama’s energy policy provides easy-to-understand bullet points that are absent necessary detail, implying that the candidate and his advisors have not really done considerable thinking about how to address global climate change. Moreover, the lack of detail combined with the prominence of the term green house gas emissions (as the only cause of global warming) in the energy policy seems to indicate that no further scientific inquiry will drive the Obama plan.

Advantage: McCain. McCain’s climate policy is much more detailed and seeks scientific answers for setting acceptable levels of greenhouse gases. Presumably, a science-based approach would include a development of an extensive understanding of the degree to which greenhouse gases have played and will continue to play a role in global climate change.

Both candidates’ websites offer press releases with praises of their respective policies relative to climate change, but only Senator McCain has articulated a point of departure for building a comprehensive solution to the problem of global climate change.



Cameron said...

Thanks for the breakdown. A friend was asking me about this a few days ago, and I wasn't sure.

suek said...

No doubt you're aware of the fact that there have been no sunspots for over a month...the last time this happened was 1923 (I think). Lack of sunspots are thought to be responsible for the global cooling period around 1100 to 1250..(again, I think), which was called the "little ice age".


Which should concern us warming or global cooling?

jlibson said...

The fact that McCain is considering damaging policies to combat the alleged AGW is a HUGE LOSS for McCain.

The evidence is highly conflicted that greenhouse gas (from us) causes GW. The evidence of economic damage from increases in the cost of energy are unambiguous.

We have to compete against the rest of the world. And they are not going to restrain their economies for the sake of a chimera.

FAQ Editor said...

Hi Jlibson,

When I wrote the article, I was thinking that the McCain position is more logical, because it seems to embrace the larger picture: we need to find out what is and is not affecting global climate change and base policies on that knowledge. On the other hand, the Obama position is less logical in that it assumes (1) that CO2 is causing the climate change and (2) that anthropogenic CO2 (i.e., CO2 resulting from mankind's activities) at 1% of the CO2 is having an effect on the total amount of C02. In my opinion, there is just to much what if in these political platforms, but McCain is definitely headed in the more logical direction, with a big picture climate change policy.