Thinking About Asthma, Pollution, and the 2008 Primary

Fair warning: I have to get a wee bit political today. With the Iowa caucus over and New Hampshire’s primary tomorrow, we’re starting to get an indication of who might end up head-to-head for the Oval Office.

Please note the information below is not an Asthma Mom endorsement for any specific candidate (not yet, anyway).

I’m following this year’s election closer than any previous ones, mostly because the whole world seems poised on the verge of a massive environmental effort (at least, I sure hope it is), and November’s results will probably help determine how large a role this country plays in it. There’s no question the U.S. has dragged its feet during international eco-initiatives so far (see: Kyto, Bali, etc.) while simultaneously emitting the most CO2 and consuming the most natural resources. Nice, huh?

Before I had a kid with breathing problems, I was one of those people who paid lip service to reducing pollution and saving endangered species without actually making the practical changes these efforts require. I didn’t, for example, recycle or use energy-saving light bulbs, and you already know about my artificial tree. Parenting a child with asthma certainly woke me right up to the dangers of poor air quality and overall toxic pollution

So many of us humans are like that, aren’t we? The way we get passionate about a cause only once it affects us personally.

Think about all the activists (in any area) who’ve got some kind of family story behind their work. Nancy G. Brinker, for example, or
Elizabeth Glaser. Barack Obama regularly cites his daughter, Malia, as his reason for advocating stronger environmental policy.

She has asthma, you see. Just like our kids.

I’m terribly impressed by anyone whose family struggles inspire them to great, world-changing accomplishments and even more so by activists without that personal story behind them. I think, though, scientific evidence for climate change and the effects of toxic pollution is so heavy as to eliminate the need for a personal reason like a daughter’s asthma to be concerned about environment.

That’s why today’s post is a rundown of the environmental platforms for the top 3 Democrats. My own party affiliations aside, environmentalism is simply not the campaign issue for Republicans that it is for Democrats.

Here’s the quick green, in order of current support based on caucus results and current polls:

Barack Obama

obama2.jpg

Supports:

–cap-and-trade system
–car fuel-economy standards at 32 mpg by 2020
–renewable energy for 25% of U.S. electricity
–annual U.S. production of 60 billion gallons of biofuels by 2030
–coal-to-liquid fuels only if emissions fall below 20% of current coal fuels
–nuclear power if storage and safety issues are resolved

League of Conservation Voters lifetime score: 96%

Hillary Clinton

hillary.jpg

Supports:

–cap-and-trade system
–car fuel-economy standards at 40 mpg by 2020 and 55 mpg by 2030
–renewable energy for 25% of U.S. electricity by 2025
–annual U.S. production of 60 billion gallons of biofuels by 2030
–coal-to-liquid fuels only if emissions fall below 20% of current coal fuels
–nuclear power if storage and safety issues are resolved, but describes herself as agnostic, skeptical, and doubtful.

League of Conservation Voters lifetime score: 90%

John Edwards

edwards.jpg

Supports:

–cap-and-trade system
–car fuel-economy standards at 40 mpg by 2016
–renewable energy for 25% of U.S. electricity by 2025
–annual U.S. production of 65 gallons of biofuels by 2025
–ban on all new coal-fired power plants unless they capture and store emissions
–no coal-to-liquid fuels
–no nuclear power

League of Conservation Voters lifetime score: 59%

This election involves so many other issues, from the Iraq war to health care to public education, but if you’d like to learn more about all the candidates’ green platforms, check out my sources:

Grist: How Green is Your Candidate?
League of Conservation Voters’ Environmental Profiles for all 2008 Presidential Candidates

4 responses to “Thinking About Asthma, Pollution, and the 2008 Primary”

  1. Asthmagirl says:

    Thanks for a thought provoking article today. I really enjoyed it.

  2. Asthma Mom says:

    Glad you liked it, and I think I’ve finally figured out who my candidate is–not that I’m waiting until the last minute or anything. 🙂

  3. Asthmagirl says:

    I am still absorbing. I’m kind of cautious about this stuff. That and if you wait long enough some candidates self select out which makes thinning the herd a little easier!

    Who knew politics and asthma went together?

  4. Asthma Mom says:

    SO true………..in fact, I finally made up my mind just last night based on one of the contenders’ “self-selection.”

    And doesn’t asthma go with everything? Sure affects everything, doesn’t it?