How Green is Green? The Candidates on the Issues

As a wilderness fan, I’m interested in preserving wild places and raising awareness about America’s natural resources. I’m also in favor of freedom. Traditionally, most people who are interested in “saving the environment” want to do so through legislation—not the preferred Libertarian way. Is there a balance that can be reached between environmental wellbeing and human freedom (and wellbeing)? We’ll see. My research indicates that our favorite politicians are talking much more about climate change and clean energy than they are about natural spaces and preserving wilderness. Hm. Anyway, what do the candidates say?

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton

“I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.” – Hillary (source)

Hillary talks a lot about the dangers of climate change and what she’s going to do to decrease the impact of climate change. Her website talks about her plans to install a half billion solar panels, diminish energy waste in American buildings, and reduce American oil consumption through cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles.

It all sounds pretty nice, but with Hillary, I always wonder about what’s being left out of the equation. Solar panels are icons for green energy, but in reality they’re still a work-in-progress, since we don’t have the batteries necessary to store solar power. Diminish energy waste also sounds nice . . . is this going to happen through similar tactics that brought about our “energy-saving” mercury-filled lightbulbs? Historically, when legislation is put in place in the name of saving energy, it creates problems that the market had previously solved. Products are suddenly more expensive and less effective, a step backwards. This is not the right way to save the world, and Hillary’s plans to decrease oil consumption fall under the same umbrella.

In her defense, Hillary has devoted attention to the environmental issues of climate change. (This is the only environmental issue I’ve heard her take up.) She’s often lauded for having a clear plan about how to counter climate change. Yes, her plan is pretty specific—but the factors involved are not so clear-cut. In my opinion, yes, the environment is worth protecting, but there’s no need to annoy a vast percentage of Americans in order to do it.

Is anyone paying attention to the broken American agricultural system, or thinking about getting involved on their local farms and buying food? There are so many goods that could come about this way. Ha—wouldn’t it be something if a politician made buying supermarket produce illegal? That sounds crazy, but it’s worth thinking about. Suddenly everyone would either buy processed foods alone, or swarm America’s rural lands in search of produce, and prices would skyrocket. It would be bad, especially for the biggest food companies. Would it be worse than other “green” legislation?

trumpfire

Donald Trump

This quote pretty much sums up Trump’s energy stance.

“Green energy is just an expensive feel-good for tree-huggers.” -Trump (source)

Trump has also been known to repeatedly imply (or say outright) that global warming is a hoax.

Overall, Trump and Hillary are pretty much opposites when it comes to environmental impact and what to do about it. A short glance at Trump’s website reveals his plans to increase jobs through tapping America’s fossil fuel reserves. In general he supports cheaper fuel (at a cost to environment) and higher pay for workers by exploiting America’s natural energy resources.

Bottom line, Trump’s not green. (He’s orange-ish.) His goal is making money as well as creating independence from middle-eastern supplies of oil . . . somehow. Trump contrasts himself from Hillary in the following way: focus on cheap fuel and other products rather than saving the environment. As a wilderness-lover, this does sound a bit worrisome to me due to the implications—should we destroy any and all natural resources if we can get rich by doing it? (No, please!) Still, Trump’s ideas are less legislation-heavy than Hillary’s.

commongoodjill

Jill Stein

Jill’s website talks about a “Green New Deal,” including a plan to

“Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.” -Jill’s website (source)

A not-too-close glance at the rest of her page reveals her typical utopian, almost socialist outlook: jobs, health care, and higher education for everyone. Anyway, you’d expect the Green Party candidate to score the most points when it comes to environmental conservation, and as long as you’re not worried about the details, you’d be right. Jill is the only candidate (that I know of) to even mention sustainable agriculture, though I don’t like her word “invest.” Government money will be going to sustainable agriculture? Well, I guess it’s already going to the massive monocrop farms of the midwest that can’t make ends meet without government support, but still. I think government should keep away from the dinner table.

Jill’s creation of “millions of jobs” needs elaboration (not to mention acknowledging the huge number of jobs lost due to the “clean” energy transition), and her investments in seemingly good things will be done with taxpayer money unless I miss my guess. Yes, Jill is green. If she miraculously becomes president, I expect we’ll see prices rise wherever she places her green thumb, and taxes rise, and a decrease in freedom of choice. Instead of individuals choosing how to live based on their own values, the government will decide what’s best for the environment and enforce laws based on that decision.

I also saw on Jill’s website, under her “Protect Mother Earth” headline, that she thinks we should “Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.” That’s a pet peeve of mine. Nothing can be proven safe. There’s no such thing as proof in the physical world, just evidence. So you know what that means? The moratorium lasts forever!

garythumbsup

Gary Johnson

“When it comes to the environment, the Federal government’s responsibility is no different than in other aspects of our lives. It is simply to protect us from those who would do us harm and damage our property.” -Gary (source)

My first impression is that Gary sounds the most reasonable of all four candidates . . . and also the most vague. In effect, he says things that sound pretty great to a Libertarian nature-lover like me, but mean nothing because he doesn’t mention specifics.

Gary’s website says the following:

“Governor Johnson believes the Environmental Protection Agency, when focused on its true mission, plays an important role in keeping the environment and citizens safe. . . . the federal government should prevent future harm by focusing on regulations that protect us from real harm, rather than needlessly costing American jobs and freedom in order to pursue a political agenda.” -Gary’s website (source)

Again, sounds pretty great, if wordy. Gary’s statements are almost totally inoffensive, because he doesn’t list the specifics of what “real harm” is, what the EPA’s “true mission” is, or what needless cost to American jobs and freedom is. There’s a whole lot to get straightened out with Gary’s happy sounding but indistinct plan for America and the environment.

What You Need To Know

hillarymountains

Hillary

Has a specific plan to decrease dependence on fossil fuels and increase dependence on cleaner, probably more expensive, fuel sources.


U.S. property mogul Trump holds a golf club during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate

Trump

Has a general plan opposite of Hillary’s: increase reliance on American fossil fuels and thereby generate jobs while diminishing dependence on foreign fuel.


jill-stein

Jill

Vague plan to “invest” in sustainable practices and somehow use 100% green energy by 2030 (at the cost of taxpayers).


garywhitehouse

Gary

Extremely vague plan to have the government minimally protect the environment without excessively infringing on personal freedom.


Who to vote for based on green-ness?

My professional opinion: choose a different deciding issue. In any event, Jill seems to have the worst plan: it imposes the most legislation and tax increases while maximizing vagueness.

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