Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cross Sections

I've been meaning to get around to figuring out where the candidates stand on these issues -- though I have to say I've been somewhat removed from the whole election thing this time around -- as much as I feel it is an ultimately everything changing event that is about to happen.

Instead I have been reading a very interesting article from the Yale Climate Forum about why the environment and global warming are not an issue in this election.

A Gallup Poll in November had asked Americans to list the top ten issues that were most important to them - and environmental issues ranked 10th.

In its analysis, Gallup wrote:

"On the prominent global warming issue, most Americans take it seriously as a problem. At the same time, only about 4 in 10 Americans believe that immediate, drastic action is needed to deal with global warming, and just 28 percent say there will be 'extreme' impact of global warming in 50 years if efforts to address the problem are not increased."

That, in a nutshell, may explain why the climate change issue has not received sustained attention by reporters and editorial writers covering the presidential election, or from the candidates themselves.

One of the major goals of this project was to begin to fill out a picture that we usually only glimpse in tiny pieces. To try to understand how different ideas cross -- cross sections of the newspaper, cross sections of society -- cross sections of our daily lives.

Because the globe's warming climate is driving long-term changes and many of them are incremental, the story is difficult and often tedious for the news media to track, said Richard Somerville, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a coordinating lead author for the latest series of IPCC Reports.

Another report I've been reading this morning was a roundup of a number of different polls from around the country regarding issues of import for this election. In many of these polls the environment wasn't even an issue. Still the war in Iraq and the price of oil were consistently among the top issues weighing on people's minds. Hurricane relief, health care, homeland security.

All of these things, it seems to me, have oil at their core.

We are so fragmented in the information we obtain; we are so compartmentalized in the way we look at our lives. Moment to moment, task to task, thought to thought.


"Now I'm going to read to you a list of issues that the U.S. Congress may address. Which one of the following issues do you think should be the top priority for the U.S. Congress to address: [see below]?" If "All": "If you absolutely had to choose, which one issue would you say should be the top priority?"



War in Iraq


Health care






Social Security/Medicare


Terrorism/Homeland security




Gas prices


The actions of the executive branch/the President


The environment


All of the above (vol.)




Lately I feel like I've been taking some liberties -- writing about coal once or twice -- writing about wildlife or the environment without specifically having oil itself as my topic. I've allowed this to enter in because I don't think that compartmentalizing works. Coal is an issue because of peak oil. The pending extinction of many animals is due to oil exploration, refining, burning. The fact that yesterday felt like spring -- that tornadoes and hurricanes are multiplying...


My real fear in the election though is that it's about to get really ugly. I fear that whichever democrat wins is about to feel wrath the size of a sunami, and that when the American public sees either candidate in the lead of a white male vice president, they haven't a chance in an oil refinery of winning.

That when it comes down to it, people only think about what they see, what they are afraid of and what is easy -- the rest falls into the realms of forgotten.

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