DENVER, Colorado, August 28, 2008 (ENS) - Climate change has made Senator Barack Obama's list of "threats of the 21st century" alongside terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty, genocide, and disease.
Accepting the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night before 75,000 supporters at Denver's Invesco Field, Obama said he would "build new partnerships" to defeat these threats.
"And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president - in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East," he declared.
"Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them," said the senator from Illinois of his Republican opponent.
"In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office."
"Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close," said Obama.
"As president," he promised, "I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.
"I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America," he said. "I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars."
"And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced."
Obama has won the support of many environmentalists for his climate and energy plans.
In a scorecard comparing Obama's energy policies with those of his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Sierra Club last week came out clearly in favor of Obama.
"Both candidates are talking about energy, high prices and global warming, so it's important to look past the rhetoric and see what is at the heart of their plans," said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club political director.
"As this scorecard illustrates, the contrast in this election could not be starker," she said. "Barack Obama wants to give tax relief and $1,000 energy rebates to working families, while John McCain wants billions more in tax breaks for oil companies making more than $1,000 a second in profits."
The League of Conservation Voters said Wednesday that Obama has a "proven record as an environmental champion" and found 10 reasons to support his candidacy.
Speaking tonight in support of the newly selected Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Al Gore described the choice facing American voters as one that will determine the fate of the planet.
He spoke from experience, having run for the presidency in 2000 and won the popular vote only to watch as the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the vote counting in Florida, in effect handing the White House to his opponent, George W. Bush.
"That's why I came here tonight: to tell you why I feel so strongly that we must seize this opportunity to elect Barack Obama president of the United States of America," said Gore.
"Take it from me, if it had ended differently," Gore told the crowd, "we would not be denying the climate crisis; we'd be solving it."
But today, Gore said, "We are facing a planetary emergency, which, if not solved, would exceed anything we've ever experienced in the history of humankind."
"We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the future of human civilization," said Gore. "Every bit of that has to change."
Gore, who shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for doing his utmost to warn the world about global warming, delivered a searing picture of potential climate disaster tonight.
"Many scientists predict - shockingly - that the entire North Polar ice cap may be completely gone during summer months during the first term of the next president," he said.
"Sea levels are rising; fires are raging; storms are stronger. Military experts warn us our national security is threatened by massive waves of climate refugees destabilizing countries around the world, and scientists tell us the very web of life is endangered by unprecedented extinctions," Gore warned.
The former vice president, who served in the Senate with McCain as president pro tem during the Clinton administration and before that as a senator from Tennessee, told the crowd tonight, "In spite of John McCain's past record of open-mindedness and leadership on the climate crisis, he has now apparently allowed his party to browbeat him into abandoning his support of mandatory caps on global warming pollution."
Gore said Obama will be a president who inspires America to believe we can use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis.
By contrast, he said "the carbon fuels industry - big oil and coal - have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party, and they are drilling it for everything it's worth."
At the White House today, presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters that President Bush believes the Obama nomination shows "that America is the best country on Earth and a place where everybody, if they work hard, can achieve great things."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.