Both presidential candidates may be loathe to utter the words “climate change” on the campaign trail, but best-selling author Jonathan Franzen (of the recent eco-minded books Freedom and Farther Away) still thinks you should go with Obama, despite the indisputable: “There’s no whitewashing the fact that his presidency hasn’t been a green one.”
Our opportunity to elect a genuinely green President was in 2000—an opportunity torpedoed (this really bears repeating) by the Green Party candidate. Voters who care strongly about the environment have already let the perfect be the enemy of the good, with calamitous results. If you’re one of those voters, please ask yourself: Can we afford to do it again?
I never expected Obama to be actively environmentalist—he was a senator from a big coal-producing state—and so I’ve been less prone to disappointment with him than my progressive friends have been. What he has been, demonstrably, is passively environmentalist. Unlike his predecessor, he has left our country’s pretty good system of environmental and land-use protections in place, and when he’s seen an opportunity to do the environment a good turn without paying too steep a political price (as when he delayed a decision on the disastrous Keystone oil-sands pipeline), he has taken it.
As for coal-loving R-Money, Franzen has this:
Mitt Romney, if he’s elected, will nullify soundly based decisions by the EPA; he will continue to pretend that the science of climate change is uncertain; he will open up all federal lands (except, presumably, national parks) to the ravages of drilling and mining; he will roll back sensible regulation of pollution and habitat destruction; and he has shown, with his choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, that he is serious about slashing funding for every federal program except the military—and you’d better believe that the EPA and Fish and Wildlife will be the first to be gutted.
You can see Paul Ryan picking his teeth with the clean bones of federal eco-oversight, eyes glistening like open oil barrels, can’t you? Yes, yes you can.