Sierra Magazine asks Matt Stoller, Michael Bocian, David Orr and Newt Gingrich to square off on how climate change will figure in the 2008 Presidential election.
"DAVID ORR: Public opinion on climate change is at or just past a tipping point. In my view, the standard for effectiveness of any policy solution has five parts. THE POLICY SHOULD AIM TO SOLVE PROBLEMS, NOT JUST SWITCH THEM. The metric must be carbon eliminated per dollar spent. The solutions must be effective immediately, not, say, 50 years from now. They should be repairable, redundant, and cheap. Overall, the policy must "solve for pattern," in Wendell Berry's words: It must become the linchpin for security, economy, equity, and environmental quality.
NEWT GINGRICH: Whoever wins will have a sound and realistic approach to climate change. Democrats have an advantage in developing solutions because their primary voters care more about the issue and because they are more comfortable dealing with environmental issues, which have been largely a liberal area of dialogue for the past generation. Republicans have to play catch-up in developing answers other than no. Our research at American Solutions indicates that, by a very substantial margin, AMERICANS PREFER ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO BUREAUCRACY AND INNOVATION TO LITIGATION. The Republican nominee should be able to develop strong solutions to climate change that emphasize science, technology, innovation, and incentives.
MICHAEL BOCIAN: Mr. Gingrich is correct that the public clamors for innovation. Our polling shows that Americans feel our country is failing to lead on energy and global-warming solutions, yet they believe we have the technological know-how to lead, and we must harness it. Mr. Gingrich is also correct on the importance of incentives. But ANY PURELY VOLUNTARY SOLUTION FAILS TO ADDRESS THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE PROBLEM. Americans believe we need strong standards if we are to succeed. Setting strong standards and enforcing them require real accountability.
MATT STOLLER: Global warming may not figure directly in the 2008 race. Consider that Al Gore received only a small bump in approval ratings for his Nobel prize and continues to have high disapproval ratings. He is the political figure most closely associated with climate change, yet according to some polls, almost half of Democrats don't want him to run for president. I'm using Gore as a proxy, but there are other obvious signposts. There was no climate-change backlash from Katrina in 2005, and NO CANDIDATES ARE MAKING THE ISSUE THE CENTERPIECE OF THEIR CAMPAIGN."