Liberal or conservative, declared or undeclared, candidates eyeing the 2008 presidential election are feeling political heat on climate change. They're reading polls showing that most Americans think global warming is a serious problem, and they're being pressured by interest groups who are keeping a close eye on candidates' positions.
Though questions of national security and energy policy – both related to changing climate – have been part of the campaign rhetoric from the start, Earth Day on April 22 prompted many to tout their greenness. The following day, Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona made it clear he's not a skeptic in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington:
"The burning of oil and other fossil fuels is contributing to the dangerous accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere … with the potential for major social, economic, and political upheaval.
"The world is already feeling the powerful effects of global warming. And far more dire consequences are predicted if we let the growing deluge of greenhouse gas emissions continue and wreak havoc with God's creation."
All the major candidates say global warming is real, that it's caused to some extent by human activity, and that it requires government action to counter it. Not surprisingly, Democrats are more vocal in their pronouncements and tougher in their proposed remedies.
On Earth Day, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) of New York pledged to create a strategic energy fund, invest oil companies' "windfall profits" in renewable energy, and obtain 20 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable resources by 2020, the Associated Press reported.
Senator Clinton also wants to show that she can walk her talk on reducing greenhouse emissions. Her website promised that her campaign would be "carbon neutral" – purchasing carbon offsets for the energy it uses.