"What are the moral implications of the Palin pick?"
- McCain has a significant chance of dying in office.
- Palin is a global warming denier.
- If the the next president doesn’t provide very strong climate leadership at home and abroad then we have doomed our children and countless generations after them to ever worsening misery and suffering.
What is the morality of electing a President or Vice President who doesn’t understand the urgent need for very strong domestic action and international leadership to mitigate man-made climate change?
What does McCain’s choice of Palin say about whether he really considers global warming a priority issue, given that he put a global warming denier a heartbeat away from the presidency (see “No climate for old men“)? What does it say about his judgment? At least they found common, albeit Luddite, ground on renewable energy (see “Pork queen Palin is an earmark expert, NOT energy expert” and “The truly clean technologies don’t work”).
Let’s go through the three points:
1. Politico has published the actuarial analysis at “McCain and the politics of mortality“:
According to these statistics, there is a roughly 1 in 3 chance that a 72-year-old man will not reach the age of 80, which is how old McCain would be at the end of a second presidential term. And that doesn’t factor in individual medical history, such as McCain’s battles with potentially lethal skin cancer….
… for a man who has lived 72 years and 67 days (McCain’s age on Election Day this year), there is between a 14.2 and 15.1 percent chance of dying before Inauguration Day 2013
In short, there is a substantial chance that Palin could end up President.
2. Newsmax has Palin’s views on warming:
This makes Palin a typical conservative. A recent poll revealed that only 27% of Republicans believe the earth is warming because of human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels (see “The deniers are winning, especially with the GOP“). Needless to say, if humans aren’t the cause of global warming, then it’s a random cycle that will eventually reverse itself, so you’d be crazy to mandate sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions like McCain (says he) wants.
Despite all the conservative blather about family values, if you are global warming denier, then you simply don’t care about the nation’s or the world’s children.
3. “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment,” warned IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri last fall when the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its major multi-year report synthesizing our understanding of climate science. And remember that Pachauri was handpicked by the Bush administration to replace the “alarmist” Bob Watson. It’s the facts that make scientists alarmists, not their politics.
Only a president who understands that humans are the cause of global warming can provide the aggressive leadership needed to achieve deep greenhouse gas emissions cuts in this country — and convince the rest of the planet, including countries like China, India, and Russia to join us. Only genuine presidential leadership on climate can avert centuries of misery, including many tens of feet of sea level rise, loss of fresh water supplies to a billion people, desertification of one third the planet, and extinction of more than two thirds of all species on land and sea (see “Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction“).
Global warming is, I argue, the only true preventable existential threat to the health and well-being of Americans. From a moral perspective, the stakes in this election could not be higher.