There’s significant evidence that Barack Obama as an individual cares very deeply about climate change, particularly in his role as a parent.
However, he built a governing team around him with deep, unresolved conflicts on climate action. Inspiring scientists like John Holdren, Jane Lubchenco, and Stephen Chu are at key leadership positions in his administration. However, his top economic advisers – Timothy Geithner, Peter Orszag, Ben Bernanke, Larry Summers – reflect the false economic orthodoxy that climate action comes at the price of economic growth. (Even though Summers believes that climate change is on par with nuclear war as an existential threat to the human race.) His top political advisers – Bill Daley, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Jim Messina, Anita Dunn, Stephanie Cutter – believe climate action to be a political loser.
As president, he economic advisers hold sway first, followed by the political advisers, then last the scientists.
As a candidate, the political advisers come first, followed by the economic advisers. The scientists are thought to be irrelevant.
This has led to problems.
A popular metaphor for understanding how global warming pollution causes more extreme weather is how steroids created the Home Run era of modern baseball.
The metaphor usually goes: “Climate scientists compare global warming to steroids and extreme weather to home runs. While we can’t attribute any single home run to the use of steroids in baseball, we can attribute to such performance enhancing drugs the increased frequency and magnitude of long balls.”
But that’s not where the metaphor should stop.
Perhaps we can’t attribute any single home run to steroid use, but we can attribute immune system damage, liver damage, gynecomastia, testicular atrophy, ventricular thickening, premature epiphyseal fusion, and fetal disorders to steroid abuse.
The influence of manmade greenhouse gases on our climate system is systemic and cumulative. It’s not just changing the frequency of extreme weather events; it’s changing what weather is.
Frankenstorm Sandy wasn’t just a home run powered by global warming—it was a home run hit by a climate system with systemic damage caused by global warming.
2008: FIRST MCCAIN-OBAMA DEBATE
MCCAIN: Nuclear power is not only important as far as eliminating our dependence on foreign oil but it’s also responsibility as far as climate change is concerned. An issue I have been involved in for many, many years and I’m proud of the work of the work that I’ve done there along with Senator Clinton.
OBAMA: Over 26 years, Senator McCain voted 23 times against alternative energy, like solar, and wind, and biodiesel. And so we — we — we’ve got to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to energy independence, because this is probably going to be just as vital for our economy and the pain that people are feeling at the pump — and, you know, winter’s coming and home heating oil — as it is our national security and the issue of climate change that’s so important.
SECOND MCCAIN-OBAMA DEBATE
QUESTION: Senator McCain, I want to know, we saw that Congress moved pretty fast in the face of an economic crisis. I want to know what you would do within the first two years to make sure that Congress moves fast as far as environmental issues, like climate change and green jobs?
MCCAIN: Well, thank you. Look, we are in tough economic times; we all know that. And let’s keep — never forget the struggle that Americans are in today. But when we can — when we have an issue that we may hand our children and our grandchildren a damaged planet, I have disagreed strongly with the Bush administration on this issue. I traveled all over the world looking at the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, Joe Lieberman and I. And I introduced the first legislation, and we forced votes on it. That’s the good news, my friends. The bad news is we lost. But we kept the debate going, and we kept this issue to — to posing to Americans the danger that climate change opposes. Now, how — what’s — what’s the best way of fixing it? Nuclear power. Senator Obama says that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that. Look, I — I was on Navy ships that had nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is safe, and it’s clean, and it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. And — and I know that we can reprocess the spent nuclear fuel. The Japanese, the British, the French do it. And we can do it, too. Senator Obama has opposed that. We can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternate — alternative energies for — for hybrid, for hydrogen, for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs. We can do that, we as Americans, because we’re the best innovators, we’re the best producers, and 95 percent of the people who are our market live outside of the United States of America.
BROKAW: Senator Obama?
OBAMA: This is one of the biggest challenges of our times.
OBAMA: And it is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the United States. It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades. And we can do it, but we’re going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we’ve got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well. And that’s why we’ve got to make some investments and I’ve called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal. Contrary to what Senator McCain keeps on saying, I favor nuclear power as one component of our overall energy mix. But this is another example where I think it is important to look at the record. Senator McCain and I actually agree on something. He said a while back that the big problem with energy is that for 30 years, politicians in Washington haven’t done anything. What Senator McCain doesn’t mention is he’s been there 26 of them. And during that time, he voted 23 times against alternative fuels, 23 times. So it’s easy to talk about this stuff during a campaign, but it’s important for us to understand that it requires a sustained effort from the next president. One last point I want to make on energy. Senator McCain talks a lot about drilling, and that’s important, but we have three percent of the world’s oil reserves and we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. So what that means is that we can’t simply drill our way out of the problem. And we’re not going to be able to deal with the climate crisis if our only solution is to use more fossil fuels that create global warming. We’re going to have to come up with alternatives, and that means that the United States government is working with the private sector to fund the kind of innovation that we can then export to countries like China that also need energy and are setting up one coal power plant a week. We’ve got to make sure that we’re giving them the energy that they need or helping them to create the energy that they need.
THIRD MCCAIN-OBAMA DEBATE
SCHIEFFER: Let’s go to — let’s go to a new topic. We’re running a little behind. Let’s talk about energy and climate control. Every president since Nixon has said what both of you…
MCCAIN: Climate change.
SCHIEFFER: Climate change, yes — has said what both of you have said, and, that is, we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil. When Nixon said it, we imported from 17 to 34 percent of our foreign oil. Now, we’re importing more than 60 percent. Would each of you give us a number, a specific number of how much you believe we can reduce our foreign oil imports during your first term? And I believe the first question goes to you, Senator McCain. MCCAIN: I believe we can, for all intents and purposes, eliminate our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and Venezuelan oil. Canadian oil is fine. By the way, when Senator Obama said he would unilaterally renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canadians said, “Yes, and we’ll sell our oil to China.” You don’t tell countries you’re going to unilaterally renegotiate agreements with them. We can eliminate our dependence on foreign oil by building 45 new nuclear plants, power plants, right away. We can store and we can reprocess. Senator Obama will tell you, in the — as the extreme environmentalists do, it has to be safe. Look, we’ve sailed Navy ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them. We can store and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, Senator Obama, no problem. So the point is with nuclear power, with wind, tide, solar, natural gas, with development of flex fuel, hybrid, clean coal technology, clean coal technology is key in the heartland of America that’s hurting rather badly. So I think we can easily, within seven, eight, ten years, if we put our minds to it, we can eliminate our dependence on the places in the world that harm our national security if we don’t achieve our independence.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Can we reduce our dependence on foreign oil and by how much in the first term, in four years?
OBAMA: I think that in ten years, we can reduce our dependence so that we no longer have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela. I think that’s about a realistic timeframe. And this is the most important issue that our future economy is going to face. Obviously, we’ve got an immediate crisis right now. But nothing is more important than us no longer borrowing $700 billion or more from China and sending it to Saudi Arabia. It’s mortgaging our children’s future. Now, from the start of this campaign, I’ve identified this as one of my top priorities and here is what I think we have to do. Number one, we do need to expand domestic production and that means, for example, telling the oil companies the 68 million acres that they currently have leased that they’re not drilling, use them or lose them. And I think that we should look at offshore drilling and implement it in a way that allows us to get some additional oil. But understand, we only have three to four percent of the world’s oil reserves and we use 25 percent of the world’s oil, which means that we can’t drill our way out of the problem. That’s why I’ve focused on putting resources into solar, wind, biodiesel, geothermal. These have been priorities of mine since I got to the Senate, and it is absolutely critical that we develop a high fuel efficient car that’s built not in Japan and not in South Korea, but built here in the United States of America. We invented the auto industry and the fact that we have fallen so far behind is something that we have to work on.
OBAMA: Now I just want to make one last point because Senator McCain mentioned NAFTA and the issue of trade and that actually bears on this issue. I believe in free trade. But I also believe that for far too long, certainly during the course of the Bush administration with the support of Senator McCain, the attitude has been that any trade agreement is a good trade agreement. And NAFTA doesn’t have — did not have enforceable labor agreements and environmental agreements. And what I said was we should include those and make them enforceable. In the same way that we should enforce rules against China manipulating its currency to make our exports more expensive and their exports to us cheaper. And when it comes to South Korea, we’ve got a trade agreement up right now, they are sending hundreds of thousands of South Korean cars into the United States. That’s all good. We can only get 4,000 to 5,000 into South Korea. That is not free trade. We’ve got to have a president who is going to be advocating on behalf of American businesses and American workers and I make no apology for that.
OCTOBER 2, 2008 BIDEN-PALIN VP DEBATE
IFILL: Governor, I’m happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let’s talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?
PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real. I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet. But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts? We have got to clean up this planet. We have got to encourage other nations also to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that. As governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change sub-cabinet to start dealing with the impacts. We’ve got to reduce emissions. John McCain is right there with an “all of the above” approach to deal with climate change impacts. We’ve got to become energy independent for that reason. Also as we rely more and more on other countries that don’t care as much about the climate as we do, we’re allowing them to produce and to emit and even pollute more than America would ever stand for. So even in dealing with climate change, it’s all the more reason that we have an “all of the above” approach, tapping into alternative sources of energy and conserving fuel, conserving our petroleum products and our hydrocarbons so that we can clean up this planet and deal with climate change.
IFILL: Senator, what is true and what is false about the causes?
BIDEN: Well, I think it is manmade. I think it’s clearly manmade. And, look, this probably explains the biggest fundamental difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and Sarah Palin and Joe Biden — Governor Palin and Joe Biden. If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is manmade. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar icecap is melting. Now, let’s look at the facts. We have 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25 percent of the oil in the world. John McCain has voted 20 times in the last decade-and-a-half against funding alternative energy sources, clean energy sources, wind, solar, biofuels. The way in which we can stop the greenhouse gases from emitting. We believe — Barack Obama believes by investing in clean coal and safe nuclear, we can not only create jobs in wind and solar here in the United States, we can export it. China is building one to three new coal-fired plants burning dirty coal per week. It’s polluting not only the atmosphere but the West Coast of the United States. We should export the technology by investing in clean coal technology. We should be creating jobs. John McCain has voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources and thinks, I guess, the only answer is drill, drill, drill. Drill we must, but it will take 10 years for one drop of oil to come out of any of the wells that are going to begun to be drilled. In the meantime, we’re all going to be in real trouble.
IFILL: Let me clear something up, Senator McCain has said he supports caps on carbon emissions. Senator Obama has said he supports clean coal technology, which I don’t believe you’ve always supported.
BIDEN: I have always supported it. That’s a fact.
IFILL: Well, clear it up for us, both of you, and start with Governor Palin.
PALIN: Yes, Senator McCain does support this. The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into. They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we’re building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America’s largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets. Barack Obama and Senator Biden, you’ve said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we’re in. You even called drilling — safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf. There — with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. But also in that “all of the above” approach that Senator McCain supports, the alternative fuels will be tapped into: the nuclear, the clean coal. I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn’t anything — such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.
IFILL: We do need to keep within our two minutes. But I just wanted to ask you, do you support capping carbon emissions?
PALIN: I do. I do.
IFILL: OK. And on the clean coal issue?
BIDEN: Absolutely. Absolutely we do. We call for setting hard targets, number one…
IFILL: Clean coal.
BIDEN: Oh, I’m sorry.
IFILL: On clean coal.
BIDEN: Oh, on clean coal. My record, just take a look at the record. My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology. A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it won’t be as dirty, it will be clean. But here’s the bottom line, Gwen: How do we deal with global warming with continued addition to carbon emissions? And if the only answer you have is oil, and John — and the governor says John is for everything. Well, why did John vote 20 times? Maybe he’s for everything as long as it’s not helped forward by the government. Maybe he’s for everything if the free market takes care of it. I don’t know. But he voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources.
OCTOBER 8, 2004 KERRY-BUSH SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE – TOWNHALL STYLE
HUBB: Mr. President, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist? What specifically has your administration done to improve the condition of our nation’s air and water supply?
BUSH: Off-road diesel engines — we have reached an agreement to reduce pollution from off-road diesel engines by 90 percent. I’ve got a plan to increase the wetlands by 3 million. We’ve got an aggressive brown field program to refurbish inner-city sore spots to useful pieces of property. I proposed to the United States Congress a Clear Skies Initiative to reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury by 70 percent. I have — was fought for a very strong title in the farm bill for the conservation reserve program to set aside millions of acres of land to help improve wildlife and the habitat. We proposed and passed a healthy forest bill which was essential to working with — particularly in Western states — to make sure that our forests were protected. What happens in those forests, because of lousy federal policy, is they grow to be — they are not — they’re not harvested. They’re not taken care of. And as a result, they’re like tinderboxes. And over the last summers I’ve flown over there. And so, this is a reasonable policy to protect old stands of trees and at the same time make sure our forests aren’t vulnerable to the forest fires that have destroyed acres after acres in the West. We’ve got a good, common-sense policy. Now, I’m going to tell you what I really think is going to happen over time is technology is going to change the way we live for the good for the environment. That’s why I proposed a hydrogen automobile — hydrogen-generated automobile. We’re spending $1 billion to come up with the technologies to do that. That’s why I’m a big proponent of clean coal technology, to make sure we can use coal but in a clean way. I guess you’d say I’m a good steward of the land. The quality of the air’s cleaner since I’ve been the president. Fewer water complaints since I’ve been the president. More land being restored since I’ve been the president. Thank you for your question.
GIBSON: Senator Kerry, minute and a half.
KERRY: Boy, to listen to that — the president, I don’t think, is living in a world of reality with respect to the environment. Now, if you’re a Red Sox fan, that’s OK. But if you’re a president, it’s not. Let me just say to you, number one, don’t throw the labels around. Labels don’t mean anything. I supported welfare reform. I led the fight to put 100,000 cops on the streets of America. I’ve been for faith-based initiatives helping to intervene in the lives of young children for years. I was — broke with my party in 1985, one of the first three Democrats to fight for a balanced budget when it was heresy. Labels don’t fit, ladies and gentlemen. Now, when it comes to the issue of the environment, this is one of the worst administrations in modern history. The Clear Skies bill that he just talked about, it’s one of those Orwellian names you pull out of the sky, slap it onto something, like “No Child Left Behind” but you leave millions of children behind. Here they’re leaving the skies and the environment behind. If they just left the Clean Air Act all alone the way it is today, no change, the air would be cleaner than it is if you pass the Clear Skies act. We’re going backwards. In fact, his environmental enforcement chief air-quality person at the EPA resigned in protest over what they’re doing to what they are calling the new source performance standards for air quality. They’re going backwards on the definition for wetlands. They’re going backwards on the water quality. They pulled out of the global warming, declared it dead, didn’t even accept the science. I’m going to be a president who believes in science.
GIBSON: Mr. President?
BUSH: Well, had we joined the Kyoto treaty, which I guess he’s referring to, it would have cost America a lot of jobs. It’s one of these deals where, in order to be popular in the halls of Europe, you sign a treaty. But I thought it would cost a lot — I think there’s a better way to do it. And I just told you the facts, sir. The quality of the air is cleaner since I’ve been the president of the United States. And we’ll continue to spend money on research and development, because I truly believe that’s the way to get from how we live today to being able to live a standard of living that we’re accustomed to and being able to protect our environment better, the use of technologies.
GIBSON: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
KERRY: The fact is that the Kyoto treaty was flawed. I was in Kyoto, and I was part of that. I know what happened. But this president didn’t try to fix it. He just declared it dead, ladies and gentlemen, and we walked away from the work of 160 nations over 10 years. You wonder, Nikki, why it is that people don’t like us in some parts of the world. You just say: Hey, we don’t agree with you. Goodbye. The president’s done nothing to try to fix it. I will.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2004 KERRY-BUSH DEBATE
KERRY: You don’t help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty, for instance, or when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations. …. What I worry about with the president is that he’s not acknowledging what’s on the ground, he’s not acknowledging the realities of North Korea, he’s not acknowledging the truth of the science of stem-cell research or of global warming and other issues.
OCTOBER 11, 2000 BUSH-GORE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
MODERATOR: New question, new subject. Vice President Gore, on the environment. In your 1992 book you said, quote, “We must make the rescue of our environment the central organizing principle for civilization and there must be a wrenching transformation to save the planet.” Do you still feel that way?
GORE: I do. I think that in this 21st century we will soon see the consequences of what’s called global warming. There was a study just a few weeks ago suggesting that in summertime the north polar ice cap will be completely gone in 50 years. Already many people see the strange weather conditions that the old timers say they’ve never seen before in their lifetimes. And what’s happening is the level of pollution is increasing significantly. Now, here is the good news, Jim. If we take the leadership role and build the new technologies, like the new kinds of cars and trucks that Detroit is itching to build, then we can create millions of good new jobs by being first into the market with these new kinds of cars and trucks and other kinds of technologies. You know the Japanese are breathing down our necks on this. They’re moving very rapidly because they know that it is a fast-growing world market. Some of these other countries, particularly in the developing world, their pollution is much worse than anywhere else and their people want higher standards of living. And so they’re looking for ways to satisfy their desire for a better life and still reduce pollution at the same time. I think that holding onto the old ways and the old argument that the environment and the economy are in conflict is really outdated. We have to be bold. We have to provide leadership. Now it’s true that we disagree on this. The governor said that he doesn’t think this problem is necessarily caused by people. He’s for letting the oil companies into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Houston has just become the smoggiest city in the country. And Texas is number one in industrial pollution. We have a very different outlook. And I’ll tell you this, I will fight for a clean environment in ways that strengthen our economy.
BUSH: Well, let me start with Texas. We are a big industrial state. We reduced our industrial waste by 11%. We cleaned up more brown fields than any other administration in my state’s history, 450 of them. Our water is cleaner now.
MODERATOR: Explain what a brown field is to those who don’t follow this.
BUSH: A brown field is an abandoned industrial site that just sits idle in some of our urban centers. And people are willing to invest capital in the brown fields don’t want to do so for fear of lawsuit. I think we ought to have federal liability protection, depending upon whether or not standards have been met. The book you mentioned that Vice President Gore wrote, he also called for taxing — big energy taxes in order to clean up the environment. And now that the energy prices are high, I guess he’s not advocating those big energy taxes right now. I believe we ought to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund to — with half the money going to states so states can make the right decisions for environmental quality. I think we need to have clean coal technologies. I propose $2 billion worth. By the way, I just found out the other day an interesting fact, that there is a national petroleum reserve right next to — in Prudhoe Bay that your administration opened up for exploration in that pristine area. And it was a smart move because there’s gas reserves up there. We need gas pipelines to bring the gas down. Gas is a clean fuel that we can burn to — we need to make sure that if we decontrol our plants that there’s mandatory — that the plants must conform to clean air standards, the grandfathered plants, that’s what we did in Texas. No excuses. You must conform. In other words, there are practical things we can do. But it starts with working in a collaborative effort with states and local folks. If you own the land, every day is Earth Day. People care a lot about their land and care about their environment. Not all wisdom is in Washington, D.C. on this issue.
MODERATOR: Where do you see the basic difference in very simple terms in two or three sentences between you and the governor on the environment? If a voter wants to make a choice, what is it?
GORE: I’m really strongly committed to clean water and clean air, and cleaning up the new kinds of challenges like global warming. He is right that I’m not in favor of energy taxes. I am in favor of tax cuts to encourage and give incentives for the quicker development of these new kinds of technologies. And let me say again, Detroit is rearing to go on that. We differ on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as I have said. We differ on whether or not pollution controls ought to be voluntary. I don’t think you can — I don’t think you can get results that way. We differ on the kinds of appointments that we would make.
MODERATOR: Would you say it’s a fundamental difference?
GORE: I think it’s a fundamental difference. Let me give you an example.
MODERATOR: Hold on one second.
GORE: Okay, sure.
MODERATOR: We’ve talked about supply. I just want to know for somebody — we’re getting close to the end of our time here. If somebody wanted to vote on the environment, how would you draw the differences, Governor?
BUSH: Well, I don’t believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C. I believe Washington ought to set standards, but again I think we ought to be collaborative at the local levels and I think we ought to work with people at the local levels. And by the way, I just want to make sure — I can’t let him just say something and not correct it. The electric decontrol bill that I fought for and signed in Texas has mandatory emission standards, Mr. Vice President. That’s what we ought to do at the federal level when it comes to grandfathered plants for utilities. I think there’s a difference. I think, for example, take — when they took 40 million acres of land out of circulation without consulting local officials, I thought that was —
MODERATOR: That was out in the west?
BUSH: Out in the west, yeah. And so — on the logging issue. That’s not the way I would have done it. Perhaps some of that land needs to be set aside. But I certainly would have consulted with governors and elected officials before I would have acted unilaterally.
MODERATOR: Would you believe the federal government still has some new rules and new regulations and new laws to pass in the environmental area or do you think —
BUSH: Sure, absolutely, so long as they’re based upon science and they’re reasonable. So long as people have input.
MODERATOR: What about global warming?
BUSH: I think it’s an issue that we need to take very seriously. But I don’t think we know the solution to global warming yet. And I don’t think we’ve got all the facts before we make decisions. I tell you one thing I’m not going to do is I’m not going to let the United States carry the burden for cleaning up the world’s air. Like Kyoto Treaty would have done. China and India were exempted from that treaty. I think we need to be more even-handed, as evidently 99 senators — I think it was 99 senators supported that position.
MODERATOR: Global warming, the Senate did turn it down. I think —
BUSH: 99 to nothing.
GORE: Well, that vote wasn’t exactly — a lot of the supporters of the Kyoto Treaty actually ended up voting for that because the way it was worded. But there’s no doubt there’s a lot of opposition to it in the Senate. I’m not for command and control techniques either. I’m for working with the groups, not just with industry but also with the citizen groups and local communities to control sprawl in ways that the local communities themselves come up with. But I disagree that we don’t know the cause of global warming. I think that we do. It’s pollution, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals that are even more potent, but in smaller quantities, that cause this. Look, the world’s temperature is going up, weather patterns are changing, storms are getting more violent and unpredictable. What are we going to tell our children? I’m a grandfather now. I want to be able to tell my grandson when I’m in my later years that I didn’t turn away from the evidence that showed that we were doing some serious harm. In my faith tradition, it is — it’s written in the book of Matthew, “Where your heart is, there is your treasure also.” And I believe that — that we ought to recognize the value to our children and grandchildren of taking steps that preserve the environment in a way that’s good for them.
BUSH: Yeah, I agree. I just — I think there has been — some of the scientists, I believe, Mr. Vice President, haven’t they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming? A profound scientist recently made a different —
MODERATOR: Both of you have now violated — excuse me. Both of you have now violated your own rules. Hold that thought.
GORE: I’ve been trying so hard not to.
MODERATOR: I know, I know. But under your alls rules you are not allowed to ask each other a question. I let you do it a moment ago.
MODERATOR: Now you just — twice, sorry. (LAUGHTER)
GORE: That’s an interruption, by the way.
MODERATOR: That’s an interruption, okay. But anyhow, you just did it so now —
BUSH: I’m sorry. I apologize, Mr. Vice President.
MODERATOR: You aren’t allowed to do that either, see? (LAUGHTER) I’m sorry, go ahead and finish your thought. People care about these things I’ve found out.
BUSH: Of course they care about them. Oh, you mean the rules.
MODERATOR: Yeah, right, exactly right. Go ahead.
BUSH: What the heck. I — of course there’s a lot — look, global warming needs to be taken very seriously, and I take it seriously. But science, there’s a lot — there’s differing opinions. And before we react, I think it’s best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what’s taking place. And I think to answer your question, I think both of us care a lot about the environment. We may have different approaches. We may have different approaches in terms of how we deal with local folks. I just cited an example of the administration just unilaterally acting without any input. And I remember you gave a very good answer to New Hampshire about the White Mountains, about how it was important to keep that collaborative effort in place. I feel very strongly the same place. It certainly wasn’t the attitude that took place out west, however.
OCTOBER 9, 1996 KEMP-GORE VP DEBATE
LEHRER: Mr. Vice President, some Democrats have charged that the environment would be in jeopardy if Mr. Kemp and Senator Dole are elected. Do you share that fear?
GORE: I certainly do. Let me first say that. In citing John F. Kennedy’s tax cut in the 1960s, I want to also remind you that Mr. Kemp has pointed out in the past, Bob Dole was in the Congress then. He was one of those who voted against John F. Kennedy’s tax cut. The environment faces dire threats from the kind of legislation that Senator Dole and Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to pass by shutting down the government and attempting to force President Clinton to accept it. They invited the lobbyists for the biggest polluters in America to come into the Congress and literally rewrite the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. President Clinton stopped them dead in their tracks. We have a positive agenda on the environment because we believe very deeply that it’s about our children and our future. Clean air and clean water, cleaning up toxic waste sites, when millions of children live within one mile of them. That’s important. We have a plan to clean up two-thirds of the toxic waste sites in America over the next four years. We’ve already cleaned up more in the last three years than the previous two administrations did in 12. The President just set aside the Utah National Monument. He is protecting the Everglades here in Florida. Bob Dole is opposed to that plan. President Bill Clinton will protect our environment and prevent the kind of attacks on it that we saw in the last Congress and are included in the Republican platform.
KEMP: And so will Bob Dole. I mean, Al, get real. Franklin Roosevelt said in 1932 that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. The only thing, Jim, they have to offer is fear. Fear of the environment, fear of the climate, fear of Medicare, fear of Newt, fear of Republicans, fear of Bob, and probably fear of cutting tax rates. They ain’t seen nothing yet. Look, we recognize that this country has to live in balance with our environment. Every one of us who have children and grandchildren recognize how we have to reach a balance. It is not jobs versus our environment. Both are important. This is the most overregulated, overly litigated economy in our nation’s history. And to call a businessman or woman who sits down and has a chance to express his or her interest in how to make these laws work and call them a polluter is just outrageous. It is typical of the anti-capitalistic mentality of this administration. That will change, because we believe in democratic capitalism for everybody.
GORE: There are lots of jobs to be created in cleaning up the environment. All around the world we’re seeing problems that people want to solve because they love their children. They want them to be able to drink clean water and breathe clean air. They don’t want them to live next to toxic waste sites. When the United States of America takes the lead in protecting the environment, we do right by our children, and we also create new business opportunities, new jobs, new sources of prosperity for the United States of America, and we’re going about it in a common sense way.
OCTOBER 13, 1992 GORE-QUAYLE-STOCKDALE VP DEBATE
BRUNO: Okay, I’m not pointing any fingers. Let’s talk about the environment — we’ll get away from controversy. (Laughter) Everyone wants a safe and clean environment, but there’s an ongoing conflict between environmental protection and the need for economic growth and jobs. So the point I throw out on the table is, how do you resolve this conflict between protection of the environment and growth in jobs, and why has it taken so long to deal with basic problems, such as toxic waste dumps, clean air and clean water? And, Vice President Quayle, it’s your turn to start first.
QUAYLE: Hal, that’s a false choice. You don’t have to have a choice between the environment and jobs — you can have both. Look at the president’s record: clean air legislation passed the Democratic Congress because of the leadership of George Bush. It is the most comprehensive clean air act in our history. We are firmly behind preserving our environment, and we have a good record with which to stand. The question comes about: What is going to be their position when it comes to the environment? I say it’s a false choice. You ought to ask somebody in Michigan, a UAW worker in Michigan, if they think increasing the CAFE standards, the fuel economy standards, to 45 miles a gallon is a good idea — 300,000 people out of work. You ought to talk to the timber people in the Northwest where they say that, well, we can only save the owl, forget about jobs. You ought to talk to the coal miners. They’re talking about putting a coal tax on. They’re talking about a tax on utilities, a tax on gasoline and home heating oil — all sorts of taxes. No, Hal, the choice isn’t the environment and jobs. With the right policies — prudent policies — we can have both.
BRUNO: Admiral Stockdale.
STOCKDALE: I read Senator Gore’s book about the environment and I don’t see how he could possibly pay for his proposals in today’s economic climate.
(APPLAUSE) You know, the Marshall Plan of the environment, and so forth. And also, I’m told by some experts that the things that he fears most might not be all that dangerous, according to some scientists. You know, you can overdo, I’m told, environmental cleaning up. If you purify the pond, the water lilies die. You know, I love this planet and I want it to stay here, but I don’t like to have it the private property of fanatics that want to overdo this thing.
BRUNO: Senator Gore.
GORE: Bill Clinton and I believe we can create millions of new jobs by leading the environmental revolution instead of dragging our feet and bringing up the rear. You know, Japan and Germany are both opening proclaiming to the world now that the biggest new market in the history of world business is the market for the new products and technologies that foster economic progress without environmental destruction. Why is the Japanese business organization — the largest one they have, the Ki Den Ren (phonetic), arguing for tougher environmental standards than those embodied in US law? Why is MITI — their trade organization — calling on all Japanese corporations everywhere in the world to exceed by as much as possible the environmental standards of every country in which they’re operating? Well, maybe they’re just dumb about business competition. But maybe they know something that George Bush and Dan Quayle don’t know — that the future will call for greater efficiency and greater environmental efficiency. This is a value an issue that touches my basic values. I’m taught in my religious tradition that we are given dominion over the Earth, but we’re required to be good stewards of the Earth, and that means to take care of it. We’re not doing that now under the Bush-Quayle policies. They have gutted the Clean Air Act. They have broken his pledge to be the environmental president. Bill Clinton and I will change that.
BRUNO: Okay. Discussion period now. Again, leave time for each other, please. Vice President Quayle, go ahead.
QUAYLE: Well, I’m tempted to yield to Admiral Stockdale on this. But I — you know, the fact of the matter is that one of the proposals that Senator Gore has suggested is to have the taxpayers of America spend $100 billion a year on environmental projects in foreign countries —
GORE: That’s not true —
QUAYLE: Foreign aid — well, Senator, it’s in your book. On page 304 —
GORE: No, it’s not.
QUAYLE: It is there.
(APPLAUSE) It is in your book. You know, Hal, I wanted to bring the Gore book tonight, because I figured he was going to pull a Bill Clinton on me and he has. Because he’s going to disavow what’s in his book. It’s in your book —
QUAYLE: It comes out to $100 billion of foreign aid for environmental projects.
BRUNO: All right. Let’s give him a chance to answer.
QUAYLE: Now, how are we going to pay for it? How are we going to pay for an extra $100 billion of the taxpayers’ money for this?
GORE: Dan, I appreciate you reading my book very much, but you’ve got it wrong.
QUAYLE: No, I’ve got it right.
GORE: There’s no such proposal.
QUAYLE: Okay, well, we’ll find —
BRUNO: Let him talk, Mr Vice President. Let the senator talk. Go ahead.
GORE: There is no such proposal. What I have called upon is a cooperative effort by the US and Europe and Asia to work together in opening up new markets throughout the world for the new technologies that are necessary in order to reconcile the imperatives of economic progress with the imperatives of environmental protection. Take Mexico City for an example. They are shutting down factories right now, not because of their economy, but because they’re choking to death on the air pollution. They’re banning automobiles some days of the week. Now what they want is not new laser-guided missile systems. What they want are new engines and new factories and new products that don’t pollute the air and the water, but nevertheless allow them to have a decent standard of living for their people. Last year 35 % of our exports went to developing countries, countries where the population is expanding worldwide by as much as one billion people every ten years. We cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend that we don’t face a global environmental crisis, nor should we assume that it’s going to cost jobs. Quite the contrary. We are going to be able to create jobs as Japan and Germany are planning to do right now, if we have the guts to leave. Now earlier we heard about the auto industry and the timber industry. There have been 250,000 jobs lost in the automobile industry during the Reagan-Bush-Quayle years. There have been tens of thousands of jobs lost in the timber industry. What they like to do is point the finger of blame with one hand and hand out pink slips with the other hand. They’ve done a poor job both with the economy and the environment.
(APPLAUSE.) It’s time for a change.
BRUNO: Admiral Stockdale, you had something you wanted to say here?
STOCKDALE: I know that — I read where Senator Gore’s mentor had disagree with some of the scientific data that is in his book. How do you respond to those criticisms of that sort? Do you —
QUAYLE: Deny it.
GORE: Well — (Laughter.)
STOCKDALE: Do you take this into account? (Laughter.)
GORE: No, I — let me respond. Thank you, Admiral, for saying that. You’re talking about Roger Revelle. His family wrote a lengthy letter saying how terribly he had been misquoted and had his remarks taken completely out of context just before he died. (Jeers.) He believed up until the day he died — no, it’s true, he died last year —
BRUNO: I’d ask the audience to stop, please.
GORE: — and just before he died, he co- authored an article which was — had statements taken completely out of context. In fact the vast majority of the world’s scientists — and they have worked on this extensively — believe that we must have an effort to face up to the problems we face with the environment. And if we just stick out heads in the sand and pretend that it’s not real, we’re not doing ourselves a favor. Even worse than that, we’re telling our children and all future generations that we weren’t willing to face up to this obligation.
QUAYLE: Hal, can I —
GORE: I believe that we have a mandate —
BRUNO: Sure. We’ve still got time.
GORE: — to try to solve this problem, particularly when we can do it while we create jobs in the process.
BRUNO: Go ahead, Mr. Vice President, there’s still time. Not much, though.
QUAYLE: I know it. We’ve got to have a little equal time here now, Hal. In the book you also suggest taxes on gasoline, taxes on utilities, taxes on carbon, taxes on timber. There’s a whole host of taxes. And I don’t just — I don’t believe raising taxes is the way to solve our environmental problems. And you talk about the bad situation in the auto industry. You seem to say that the answer is, well, I’ll just make it that much worse by increasing the CAFE standards. Yes, the auto industry is hurting, it’s been hurting for a long time, and increasing the CAFE standards to 45 miles per gallon, like you and Bill Clinton are suggesting, will put, as I said, 300,000 people out of work.
OCTOBER 5, 1988: BENTSEN-QUAYLE VP DEBATE
MARGOLIS: Senator, we’ve all just finished – most America has just finished one of the hottest summers it can remember. And apparently this year will be the fifth out of the last nine that are among the hottest on record. No one knows, but most scientists think, that something we’re doing, human beings are doing, are exacerbating this problem, and that this could, in a couple of generations, threaten our descendants comfort and health and perhaps even their existence. As Vice President what would you urge our government to do to deal with this problem? And specifically as a Texan, could you support a substantial reduction in the use of fossil fuels which might be necessary down the road?
BENTSEN: Well, I think what you can do in that one, and which would be very helpful, is to use a lot more natural gas, which burns a lot cleaner. And what Mike Dukakis has said is that he’ll try to break down those regulatory roadblocks that you have in the regulatory agency that denies much of the passage of that natural gas to the northeast, a way, in turn, can fight against acid rain which is another threat, because it’s sterilizing our lakes, it’s killing our fish. And it’s interesting to me to see in the resume of Senator Quayle that he brags on the fact that he’s been able to fight the acid rain legislation. I don’t think that that’s a proper objective in trying to clean up this environment. But the greenhouse effect is one that has to be a threat to all of us, and we have to look for alternative sources of fuel. And I’ve supported that very strongly. The Department of Energy is one that has cut back substantially on the study of those alternative sources of fuels. We can use other things that’ll help the farmer. We can convert corn to ethanol, and I would push for that very strong. So absolutely. I’ll do those things that are necessary to put the environment of our country number one. Because if we don’t protect that, we’ll destroy the future of our children. And we must be committed to trying – to clean up the water, clean up the air, and do everything we can, not only from a research standpoint, but also in the applied legislation to see that that’s carried out.
WOODRUFF: Senator Quayle?
QUAYLE: Vice President George Bush has said that he will take on the environmental problem. He has said further that he will deal with the acid rain legislation and reduce millions of tons of the S02 content. That legislation won’t get through the Congress this year. But it will get through in a George Bush Administration, a George Bush Administration that is committed to the environment. Now the greenhouse effect is an important environmental issue. It is important for us to get the data in, to see what alternatives we might have to the fossil fuels, and make sure we know what we’re doing. And there are some explorations and things that we can consider in this area. The drought highlighted the problem that we have, and therefore, we need to get on with it, and in a George Bush Administration, you can bet that we will.