Smart Headlines for the Planet

Here’s the smartest headline we’ve seen in a long time: “It’s Climate Change, Stupid,” declares the cover of Bloomberg Business Week.

After a prolonged absence from the political debate, climate change and conservation are back on the national radar screen thanks to Superstorm Sandy’s appearance the week before the election.

Let’s just hope the lessons of Superstorm Sandy don’t fade along with the headlines of destruction and despair in New York City and New Jersey.

We all know that a single storm isn’t “climate change.” But Sandy wasn’t just a single storm. She was part of a growing and disturbing pattern, whether it’s called Sandy or Katrina or Snowmageddon or a nationwide heat wave that broke 3,215 high temperature daily records this past June.

In our grassroots campaign calling for an end to the partisanship that has paralyzed political action on conservation and the environment, the National Audubon Society and our Republican partner, ConservAmerica, asked you a critical question that was never posed in any of the presidential debates:

What should be the top conservation and environmental priorities for the next administration?

Whether Democrat, Republican or Independent, you responded from across the country.  Your answers offer a valuable roadmap for President Obama, the Congress and other elected officials.

No. 1. Promote the development of clean, renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and foreign sources.

This was by far the most frequently listed priority. Debrah Roemisch echoed the concerns of many when she wrote, “Developing clean energy sources will help the environment, provide jobs and help us be independent—win-win for everyone except the oil companies.”

No. 2: Protect air, water and land from pollution.

“Clean air and water…Take the politics out,” demanded Corrine Carter of Prattville, Ala. In comment after comment, folks across the country expressed dismay that conservation—once one of the great unifying issues in America—has become a victim of drive-by partisan politics.

No. 3. Be cautious with the Keystone XL pipeline, offshore drilling and hydrofracking in environmentally sensitive areas.

“Drop forever the Keystone pipeline project and replace it with a national smart grid (a heck of a lot more jobs,)” wrote Mark Ford.

“Put a moratorium on fracking in the U.S.” said Rosann Strum of Bloomington, Indiana. “Stop deep water drilling.”

Many of you were very passionate on these issues. We believe our elected officials can find common sense solutions for well-managed energy development that both protects sensitive areas and helps meet America’s energy and employment needs.

Elected officials are going to be faced with difficult decisions on whether to allow drilling in the Alaskan arctic and on our coastlines, as well as how to regulate hydraulic fracking so that it does not endanger our communities’ water sources and wildlife areas.

No. 4: Protect national and state parks and open spaces.

“We need to restore and keep full protections for our wilderness, wildlife, national parks,” said Barbara Eaton of Allenstown, N. H., expressing the concerns of many respondents.

Just as Hurricane Katrina before her, Superstorm Sandy demonstrated the short-sightedness of draining, paving and building atop our natural storm barriers—marshes, seashores and other wetlands. Without the protections nature provided, the storms slam into populated shorelines full force with no buffers to slow winds or water surges.

No. 5: More environmental and conservation education.

Educating our youth to care for the communities and the planet they will inherit leave to their children was a recommendation repeated multiple times.

A strong common thread linked the environmental priorities Americans offered the next administration and Congress. In message after message, Americans of every political stripe said they were fed up with the do-nothing partisan politics that has infected virtually every environmental issue.

Ms. Eaton from New Hampshire summed up the real challenge for America’s elected leaders: “Both parties must realize that our Earth and wildlife are not battlegrounds.”

We also received many great comments from our Q and A with Felicity Barringer of the New York Times.

Linda from Idaho called it “a refreshing discussion on how caring for our environment should not be a partisan issue.”

She described the situation in her own state: “There are many Republicans in my red state of Idaho who deeply care about the health of the environment which they depend on for their livelihood, however, they are afraid to speak up for fear of retribution like children bullied in a playground.

“No matter what your political stance, you should be able to freely speak your mind about environmental issues you care about without being bullied and condemned.’’

Maybe now that the electioneering is over, the common sense conservation of our environment begin.

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18 thoughts on “Smart Headlines for the Planet

  1. “This site is the bomb. You have a new fan! I can’t wait for the next update, saved!”

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  3. bette

    Stop this senseless waste of money on Industrial Wind projects – the little amount (which has to be backed up by reliable energy) that is produced – How many wind turbines would you have to have to replace one coal plant – and no it couldn’t replace it. There are many more birds/bats being killed than are reported. These Turbines are on private lands. I would much prefer us spending money on “clean coal”.

    Is there global warming – I don’t know the heat records here in the midwest this summer were not broken – they were higher in the 1950’s. I’m more worried about the numbers of bats being killed by windi turbines and west Nile Virus.- oh, wait we can spray a bunch of chemicals to get rid of the insects that the bats would have ate!!

    • Brenda Maston

      Your comment about coal is a very good on. One of my relatives is sitting on a coal lease in Texas and without more clean coal development, no one can reap the rewards of the mineral rights. All of that energy just sitting in the ground and nobody wants to use it. Buy American! Made in USA, what happened to it!

  4. As far as the number one concern: clean, renewable energy, I imagine this includes the continuing development of windmill energy and which can have serious impact on bird populations and perhaps others such as monarch butterflies. I’d like to see more emphasis on solutions to avoid that.


  6. Lew Okun

    It’s a nice slogan, guys, but actually, conservation DOES have a party. Or more precisely, there is one party that is a vigorous adversary to conservation, with very few exceptions among its members and virtually no exceptions among its leadership. That anti-conservation party, ironically, is the party of so called conservatives and Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican Party.

  7. Laurin Desso

    Maybe I’m a little simplistic but it seems to me that rather than build a pipeline for the Keystone Project that they would consider building a refinery in Wyoming or North Dakota to process the oil that they want to transport to Texas. Just saying.

    • Annie Meo

      I would hope that the ultimate goal would be to be able to dismantle that refinery as soon as possible after replacing it with non-extractive sources of energy.

    • Brenda Maston

      Maybe that make too much sense and the government could not waste more money needlessly. I wonder if there is a good reason why a refinery could not be built next to the source. Jobs would be created and the refinery could be a new facility with the newest technology. That is a very good question. Does anybody have an answer?
      Brenda Maston

  8. lorin vant-hull

    What we really need is to drop all subsidies and impose a significant tax on ALL extractive processes, from gas fracking to coal mining to water extraction to …………………………………………..etc.

  9. Nightmare

    I heartily agree with Ellen Franzen. Sex scandals have been ongoing for thousands of years and will probably continue for thousands more and yet that is all the press and congress seems to recognize.
    $5,000,000,000 to elect a president and not one dime of it went to help Sandy victims. It’s obvious big business could care less about the rest of us and our children will suffer because of it.. Water supply is now our most rapidly disappearing natural resource and it’s decline is already affecting communities here in the Southwest. Drought is one thing, pumping ancient aquifers dry is a death sentence.

    • Brenda Maston

      You’ve got that right about the death sentence! Down here in Texas, the droughts have been draining the aquafiers and at a rapid rate. Some say that is agriculture’s fault, but if people put more into saving their own rainwater and reusing it, the Common people could put a dent in what is taken. There is a man in Texas that has built his home which completely uses rainwater for any water consumption. What a great way to have pure water to drink, cook and bathe. Of course, the investment was around $15,000. Too bad the government wouldn’t sponsor a program for that.

  10. Craig Stott

    Isn’t the Keystone Pipeline Project being developed by a Chinese based company? A pipeline that will run through America’s heartland…and above our prime subterranean aquifers? Whose bright idea was this?!!! We all know how well the oil industry maintains their hardware and equipment don’t we. The Keystone Pipeline Project is just asking to be a major unprecedented disaster! There are much better alternatives to invest in than this very ill conceived project. Alternatives that are based in America and thereby would be contributing to our overall infrastructure. This does not make sense to me.

  11. Kay Twain

    Be an example. Each of us has responsibility to use resources wisely, & think about how & why we are using what we use, from driving when you could walk, making unnecessary trips using fossil fuels, heating the house, using all manner of products made from petroleum, where and how we buy our food, what and how we consume.
    If we are to change the paradigm its up to each one of us, not only big polluters and companies despoiling the environment.

  12. Ellen Franzen

    We need to ask the climate question–what does the current evidence suggest the climate will look like in 20, 30, 40 years and see how we can mitigate the damage now, before it happens. Let’s not wait until we have to adapt, because that will be very painful. Although, frankly, I think we’re doing to be stuck doing way more adaption than mitigation unless Congress can refocus off sex scandals and onto real issues. It looks to me like our national government is so disfunctional that our cities, counties, and states will make progress on the climate change issue and the federal government will just get in the way. Sigh…

  13. signe stuart

    Our natural resources are our commons and should be used sustainably to benefit the common good not to enrich a few. A healthy and clean environment is one of the best legacies we can leave our children. It is in our national and international self-interest.

  14. Brenda Maston

    We need to develop more of oour own natural resources, but not at the cost of poluting our ground water and causing earthquakes. Let’s spend some of that R&D money to find a better way to get the natural gas from the earth.

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