Amid the pages of America’s traditional print media, Tom Friedman has emerged as perhaps the strongest regular columnist on energy issues. He has moved from his globalization agenda to ever stronger appeals for a move toward more sensible energy policies and for confronting the crises of Peak Oil and Global Warming.
Today’s column, And Then There Was One, is a clarion call for America’s university students (and, well, Americans) to realize that — if you have any concerns about energy and Global Warming — there is only one candidate on the ballot this November worthy of a vote: Barack Obama.
For Friedman, Palin was the last straw.
With his choice of Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change, for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.
This OPED is a must read and a refutation of McCain on multiple levels.
Friedman is calling McCain out on multiple levels in this OPED. Friedman is challenging McCain’s(dirty) green credentials; McCain’s lack of vision for a better energy future; McCain’s readiness to weaken American national security (playing into Russia’s hands); McCain’s embrace of the worst of big business counter facts and counter national interests; McCain’s flip-flopping for political convenience. And, so on …
As we emerge from Labor Day, college students are gathering back on campuses not only to start the fall semester, but also, in some cases, to vote for the first time in a presidential election. There is no bigger issue on campuses these days than environment/energy.
This gives me hope, let it be true.
Will fears over Global Warming. Concerns over the impacts of Peak Oil on their futures drive college students to break all expectations in their activism and voting this November? I have hope …
Going into this election, I thought that — for the first time — we would have a choice between two “green” candidates. That view is no longer operative — and college students (and everyone else) need to understand that.
Al Gore praised McCain on Global Warming … no more, Al, no more. McCain has lost any credibility for praise when it comes to Global Warming. All words, no action. McCain has spoken to the problem, even forcefully, but has abandoned any credentials for offering even a shadow of a solution when it comes to both Global Warming and Peak Oil.
Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.
Friedman called out recently McCain on those eight votes … forcefully. And, now he is taking it a step forward. McCain’s green is only the greenbacks that he is receiving from Exxon-Mobil and other fossil fuel fools hoping to having another oily occupation of the Executive Branch. They want their four more years of excessive profits at the expense of our economy, our national security, our planetary health, our future.
So please, students, when McCain comes to your campus and flashes a few posters of wind turbines and solar panels, ask him why he has been AWOL when it came to Congress supporting these new technologies.
Sort of like T Boone Pickens, don’t let some fancy photos and seemingly attractive sound bites seduce you from reality.
What has John done to help create an energy future? He has, as I’ve written often before, simply been AWOL when given the chance to help create a better future.
“Back in June, the Republican Party had a round-up,” said Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. “One of the unbranded cattle — a wizened old maverick name John McCain — finally got roped. Then they branded him with a big ‘Lazy O’ — George Bush’s brand, where the O stands for oil. No more maverick.
Not “maverick” but irratic. And, McCain’s slipperyness is now being enhanced with an oily sheen.
“One of McCain’s last independent policies putting him at odds with Bush was his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” added Pope, “yet he has now picked a running mate who has opposed holding big oil accountable and been dismissive of alternative energy while focusing her work on more oil drilling in a wildlife refuge and off of our coasts. While the northern edge of her state literally falls into the rising Arctic Ocean, Sarah Palin says, ‘The jury is still out on global warming.’ She’s the one hanging the jury — and John McCain is going to let her.”
McCain has just embraced the know-nothing branch of the Republican Party, those who reject science as something of merit. (You know, Palin’s father was a science teacher …)
Indeed, Palin’s much ballyhooed confrontations with the oil industry have all been about who should get more of the windfall profits, not how to end our addiction.
Palin is no reformer. She was simply seeking to have a greater slice of the pie.
Barack Obama should be doing more to promote his green agenda, but at least he had the courage, in the heat of a Democratic primary, not to pander to voters by calling for a lifting of the gasoline tax. And while he has come out for a limited expansion of offshore drilling, he has refrained from misleading voters that this is in any way a solution to our energy problems.
Obama’s policies are not perfect when it comes to energy and global warming, but they are strong in many respects. And, Obama offers the hope of learning and strengthening his policies in ways that might actually make a real impact and make real strides in solving problems and seizing opportunities.
I am not against a limited expansion of off-shore drilling now. But it is a complete sideshow. By constantly pounding into voters that his energy focus is to “drill, drill, drill,” McCain is diverting attention from what should be one of the central issues in this election: who has the better plan to promote massive innovation around clean power technologies and energy efficiency.
DRILL! DRILL! DRILL! is no solution other than to enhance profit making potential for oil company executives.
Why? Because renewable energy technologies — what I call “E.T.” — are going to constitute the next great global industry. They will rival and probably surpass “I.T.” — information technology. The country that spawns the most E.T. companies will enjoy more economic power, strategic advantage and rising standards of living. We need to make sure that is America. Big oil and OPEC want to make sure it is not.
DRILL! DRILL! DRILL! is a threat to America’s national security. Some so-called security hawks have embraced this but those who really understand the opportunities and challenges realize that drilling won’t solve any problems and simply put us further at peril to foreign interests.
Palin’s nomination for vice president and her desire to allow drilling in the Alaskan wilderness “reminded me of a lunch I had three and half years ago with one of the Russian trade attachés,” global trade consultant Edward Goldberg said to me. “After much wine, this gentleman told me that his country was very pleased that the Bush administration wanted to drill in the Alaskan wilderness. In his opinion, the amount of product one could actually derive from there was negligible in terms of needs. However, it signified that the Bush administration was not planning to do anything to create alternative energy, which of course would threaten the economic growth of Russia.”
Let us strengthen Russia. A true winning campaign platform, no?
So, college students, don’t let anyone tell you that on the issue of green, this election is not important. It is vitally important, and the alternatives could not be more black and white.
Perhaps I am wrong, but this is an OPED that I hope gets wide distribution … something that I would hope is reprinted in college newspapers … and that, may we hope, that it goes viral from in-box to in-box.
The choice is clear. And only one choice offers a viable path for the future.