In order to want to save the environment, you have to learn to love the environment. This means spending time in nature. Florida's Richard Ryan is in the midst here of spending a lot of time in nature. We met him in Kent, Connecticut as he was into his 3rd month and 900th mile of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Environmental Policy in Short
*To read the policy in full, see further below
"Schriner added he found the Toledo Zoo Bird Shows ending by narrator Emily Insalaco insightful. We've not inherited this earth from our parents; were borrowing it from our children, she said." - The Press, Maumee Bay, Ohio
Dramatically reverse trends leading to global warming.
Make clean, renewable alternative energy (solar, wind, water) Americas primary source of energy.
No to nuclear technology
Create incentives for Americans to substantially cut back on their energy use.
Heightened focus on alternative transportation: solar and electric vehicles, bicycling, walking in a more decentralized society.
Switch to more biomass fuel sources.
Implement Walkable Communities Model nationwide
Reforest America Campaign
Better, and more regionally oriented, forest management practices
End eco-system damaging grazing on federal lands.
Ban environmentally toxic lawn fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Emission control standards for gasoline powered lawn equipment.
Ban toxic (to the environment and humans) farm chemicals -- including a shift to much more organic growing.
Curb urban sprawl and reestablish wildlife habitat including incentives for more Backyard Habitats.
Inspire Endangered Species Associations for each species thats currently endangered.
Stop water pollution.
Help generate more clean water in the U.S. and in the Third World with desalinization plants, low-tech solar ovens for water pasteurization in the Third World, gutter systems to harvest rainwater
Tremendously stepped-up Recycling Program nationwide.
Become a Society of Conservers.
"There are also things homeowners can do to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, [Schriner] said, such as riding a bike or walking places, not using air conditioning, turning the thermostat down and wearing sweaters at home during the winter all things he and his family do. " -Gothenburg (NE) Times
Environment Position Paper
“The environment continues to get worse,” [said Schriner]. “We always use the example of ozone. It’s kind of a dressed up word for rust when it oxidizes in your lungs. We just don’t think it’s fair for little kids… to be breathing that stuff. We’re very pro-environment.” –Nebraska City (NE) News-Press
“ He [Schriner] believes in an “environmental stewardship” policy that would “put me to the left of the Green Party.” –The Mississippi Press
“We’re running as concerned parents who envision a better world for our kids,” said Schriner. –Findlay (OH) Courier
“I don’t want my children growing up in a world laced with pollution, global warming and ozone holes, often from the burning of fossil fuels,” said Schriner. “Wind energy is non-polluting and we should be subsidizing the development of that nationwide.” –The Battle Mountain (NV) Bugle
Categories covered below include: 1) The Issues (an Overview); 2) The Plan (an Overview); 3) Global Warming; 4) Solar Energy; 5) Wind Energy; 6) Subsidizing the Shift; 7) Water Power; 8) Alternative Transportation; 9) Decentralism; 10) Reforesting America, One Tree at a Time; 11) Healthy Forestry, at Nature’s Pace; 12) Healthy Forest Restoration Act; 13) Rangeland Devastation and Rangeland Reform; 14) Lawn Problems; 15) Vanishing Species; 16) Water Pollution and Water Scarcity; 17) Recycling; 18) Future Generations
1) The Issues (an Overview):
Okay, let’s admit it.
Many of us in America are “biophobic.”
And while there isn’t a support group for this yet, there should be – before it’s too late for the planet.
During a research stop at Oberlin College to meet with David Orr, who is the head of Oberlin’s Environmental Science Department and a nationally known author, he told me people who are “biophobic” view the environment as “an enemy to be tamed.”
And the closest these people often get to weather is, well, the Weather Channel.
They live in temperature-controlled homes, temperature-controlled office spaces, temperature-controlled vehicles…
In Sharon, Connecticut, Kathy Amiet, a naturalist who teaches at the Audobon Society Center, told me that people who don’t like nature (except for a few sunny, 75 degree days) aren’t too terribly concerned about saving it.
And that shows.
According to a recent Time Magazine article on the environment, “11,000 species of animals and plants are currently known to be threatened with extinction.” You read that right, 11,000.
At a stop in Slidell, Louisiana (pre-Hurricane Katrina), we were told by a Fish & Wildlife official about a small woodpecker that’s looking at extinction. The reason? We’re addicted to cheap furniture made from the only wood this bird can peck.
And that’s not all.
According to the book The Living World, acid rain, heavy metal pollution and disposal of nuclear waste are all wreaking havoc on the eco-system. Incidentally, it is us who are doing all this.
It is us who are rapidly destroying the earth’s vital ozone layer, which took millions of years to form.
And have I mentioned global warming?
Time Magazine did in a recent “Special Edition” issue dedicated to the topic. The picture it painted was beyond alarming. “Never mind what you’ve heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.”
And Time graphically noted what that looks like:
A recent Category 5 cyclone exploded through northeastern Australia. Polar ice caps are melting faster than ever before, with predictions of sea levels rising 20 feet by the end of the century. (This is not the kind of world my wife Liz and I want to leave our kids, I told the Circleville (OH) Herald newspaper.)
And it was circles of fires and dust that turned the skies of Indonesia orange, because of drought fueled blazes sweeping the nation, said Time.
Back at home, the magazine pointed to a battered Gulf Coast region and the busiest hurricane season, ever.
On a campaign tour leg through the Gulf Coast (post-Hurricane Katrina), we stopped in Pascagoula, Mississippi, which looked like a war zone – six months after the hurricane had hit.
Pascagoula resident Tom Caffrey took us on a tour.
At one point, he pointed to a lone knoll right on the coast, with nothing but a concrete slab left where there used to be an expansive, three-story residence. “That home was said to be hurricane proof,” Caffrey said.
And as the home wasn’t hurricane proof, we are not bullet proof when it comes to the environment.
Nor are we innocent bystanders, especially in this country.
America has only 5% of the world population, yet we use the most energy, Bluffton College Environmental College professor Bob Antibus told me. Professor Antibus said he points out to his classes that if everyone on earth lived like the average North American – it would require at least three earths to provide all the material and energy we’d need.
During a talk to a Moral Theology Class at St. Meinrad’s Seminary in southern Indiana, I said this type of consumption, while billed as the “American Dream,” is actually nothing less than gluttony.
To control our domestic climates, we are burning tremendous amounts of fossil fuels that are sending plumes of global warming gases up. And as we drive (often a tremendous amount of unnecessary miles), we’re doing the same.
Coupled with this, we’re failing to – or don’t want to (take your pick) – connect the dots between our insatiable buying of consumer products (appliances, furniture, tools, lawn care items…), and the energy it takes to make them.
During a research stop at Bowling Green State University to meet with Professor Jon Opperman, who is involved with BGSU’s Alternative Vehicle Department, he told me a car often takes more energy to make – than the energy it will burn during its lifetime.
And we’re not going to have much of a “lifetime” left if we keep going at a veritable snails pace (Remember the snail darter?) with energy conservation and a shift to clean, renewable alternative energy sources.
And have I mentioned the environmental cancer of unchecked urban sprawl these days, as it devours farmland and wildlife habitat, including forests? These are forests with trees that are expressly designed to absorb, of all things, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the number one global warming gas.
A tragic one.
But not the only one…
Out West, cattle grazing has polluted more water, eroded more topsoil, killed more fish, displaced more wildlife and destroyed more vegetation than any other land use,” Ted Williams wrote for an Audubon Magazine article.
And if it isn’t open rangeland, it’s those darned well-manicured suburban yards – that are laced with all kinds of toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, which leech into the groundwater. Groundwater that goes, ultimately, all over the place.
And the world’s waterways are becoming more and more polluted, with practically everything these days, so polluted that the famous marine explorer Jacques Cousteau wouldn’t even eat fish taken from the middle of the ocean toward the end of his life a few years back.
In Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Environmental professor George Kraft told me that world is actually running out of fresh water altogether because we are not only polluting it, but we are diverting it and depleting it, at a “startling rate.”
And the list of environmental maladies goes on…
I used to be a drug and alcohol counselor, and this all seems quite analogous to an alcoholic who is hitting bottom.
Some of the things accompanying hitting bottom might include smashing into a tree while driving drunk (Category 5 cyclone smashing into Australia, Katrina smashing into the Gulf Coast…). As alcoholics move toward their bottom, they start losing friends, family (woodpeckers, spotted owls, snail darters… and 10,997 other plants and animals).
And as all this continues to disrupt the eco-system, organic farmer Kelly Kingsland in Moscow, Idaho, told me what we have to realize is: we’re next.
Some alcoholics never realize this and they are, indeed: next.
Others start to recover.
For the past 15 years, we have traveled the country extensively looking for those who have developed models to help us recover, environmentally.
And we found them.
2) The Plan (an Overview)
We stopped at St. Gertrude Monastery in Cottonwood, Idaho to interview a nun who manages the Monastery’s expansive 1,400-acre forest. Sr. Carol Ann Wassmuth, who regularly gives talks on the “Spirituality of Forestry,” pointed to an edict by St. Benedict.
That is, we should treat everything in God’s environment as we would “the sacred vessels of the altar.”
There is a similar principle adhered to by members of the northern Minnesota Ojibwe Tribe.
On a stop there, we interviewed the Tribe’s Winona La Duke, who ran as a vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket in Campaign 2000. Ms. La Duke is currently coordinating a project on the Reservation to move the Native Americans there back to “traditional ways.”
They are farming organically, fishing the rivers for sturgeon, hunting in a small-scale sustainable fashion… It is all about ‘walking softly’ on the earth, again.
Ms. La Duke said the Native Americans believe that how they live now in the environment ripples through proceeding generations. And spiritually, she said, they are responsible for the next: seven.
If only we all saw it that way.
Our administration would work stridently to create that paradigm.
At the start of this shift, America has to move from a predominant orientation as a “society of consumers (biggest per capita on the planet),” to a “society of conservers.”
We must begin to lead the world in the “Art of Conserving,” at every turn.
And one thing(s) we need to conserve, if not just stop using altogether, is fossil fuels.
As president, I would sign the Kyoto Protocol immediately. (The Kyoto Protocol is a universal set of standards for reduction of carbon dioxide emissions that come from burning fossil fuels.)
And I would go one better. I would turn the White House into a “Kyoto Protocol Home Zone,” and urge all Americans to do the same at their homes and businesses. This would include a dramatic series of strategies to cut central heating, cooling, electricity use in general, while at the same time embracing clean, renewable energy technologies en mass.
At an “Alternative Energy Fair” in Custer, Wisconsin, John Hippensteel, owner of the Lake Michigan Wind & Sun Co., told me wind energy is now growing by 25% worldwide every year.
In America, our administration would push for that figure to be, at least, 500% a year! To repeat: “Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the crisis (global warming) is upon us.”
And the same would go with solar and geothermal technologies.
These Kyoto Protocol Home Zone strategies would also include campaigns to promote much more walking and bicycling locally, use of alternative solar and electric powered vehicles and biomass fuels (Anyone ever hear of switch grass?).
And ultimately, we’d affect a shift to a more “decentralized” society conducive to a lot more “local production for local consumption,” which, by natural attrition, would lead to the cutting back on driving and the emission of global warming gases.
We would also put more “teeth” in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have a stronger voice in regulating: toxic dumping, over fishing, carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles and factories…
And to help clean up the air even more, we’d push to reforest America, quick. (Trees absorb carbon dioxide.)
At a stop in Rawlins, Wyoming, Mark Williams, who majored in Ecology at the University of North Dakota and works for the Bureau of Land Management, told me never mind the Brazilian rainforest, we clear cut the “entire eastern U.S.”
Good environmental stewardship?
Our administration would push “urban forestry” and Tree City USA models, everywhere. We’d propose a moratorium on logging in the federal old growth forests and provide incentives for farmers to switch to tree farms.
What’s more, we’d push for legislation to stop “cut and run” practices in the forests, allow only selective logging, and work for a mandatory Tree Replanting program.
Out west on the rangeland, we’d follow Bureau of Land Management’s Lauren Lambertson’s “ideal solution,” by trying to stop cows from grazing on federal lands altogether – so the land can heal.
What’s going without a few steaks anyway, huh?
We would also push for stringent EPA standards on toxic lawn chemicals that are causing massive amounts of environmental devastation. Just ask environmental activist Ann Salt in Menominie, Wisconsin. We did.
And we would push for emission control standards (there are none currently) for all motorized lawn equipment. (I, personally, will be cutting the grass – that is what is left of the grass after we turn much of the lawn into a permaculture – at the White House with an engineless push mower, like I do at home now.)
As for the vanishing species, we’d fight hard to end urban sprawl, stop pollution in general (instituting a “Zero Pollution Tolerance” policy), and draw on a preservation model we researched in Ely, Minnesota.
The International Wolf Association in Ely has rallied people throughout the country (and around the world) to help save (and repopulate) the wolves in that area. Their success has been phenomenal, and we propose that similar non-profits start up around every animal and plant that is endangered.
While perhaps not as romantic as the wolf, I’ll be joining the International Snail Darter Association when it gets going.
I could go on with this (and I do in the following sections), but I think you get the basic tenor of our environmental stance. I told CBS News in Columbus, Ohio, that: “We are left of the Green Party – and that’s hard to do.”
But we are.
I told The Press newspaper in Maumee Bay, Ohio, that we had recently gone to the Toledo Zoo with our kids. During a “Bird Show,” narrator Emily Insalaco repeated an often-used (but seldom taken seriously) adage:
“We’ve not inherited the earth from our parents; we’re borrowing it from our children.”
I told the reporter Liz and I do really take that seriously.
3) Global Warming
We believe global warming is real. And based on data from a multitude of studies we’ve read about, not only is global warming real, it poses an alarming, and quite impending, threat to the planet.
For instance, studies show several Greenland ice sheets have doubled their rate of slide. In Alaska, melting permafrost (that’s never melted before) is pouring mud into the rivers putting fish populations at grave risk, and allowing significant amounts of carbon dioxide into an already CO2 laden atmosphere. According to the Time Magazine article (mentioned earlier): With sea ice vanishing, polar bears are starting to turn up drowned. Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, predicts there will be no polar ice at all by 2060.”
On the West Coast, rising sea temperatures from global warming is killing off record levels of plankton – the food at the base of the food chain. This is nothing short of catastrophic!
Now, the Bush Administration made a decision not to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. This is a U.N. generated initiative to get countries to adhere to a universal set of standards for reducing global warming gases. (A good number of countries – including many in Europe – have signed the treaty.)
First of all, as president, I would sign this treaty immediately (or a similar subsequent one). See note 1 at end of paper for update on this.
What’s more, during an energy seminar at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, I told the general assembly there that we would ask Americans to go several steps beyond Kyoto.
We would try to spark a mass, grassroots movement of people who become tremendously enthusiastic about the “Art of Conserving Energy.” (Our country uses more energy than any other country in the world, at present. For “environmental stewardship” reasons, we would like to see a paradigm shift where we were working toward conserving the most energy of any country, per capita, in the world.)
As was the case with rationing (and voluntary sacrifice) during World War II, our administration would initially consider rationing energy use, whether that is in connection with home or business energy use, or motor vehicle use. We see what’s going on with the environment (global warming, vanishing species…) as nothing short of war on the planet.
For instance, this rationing would move every homeowner to institute a version of a “Kyoto Protocol Home Zone.”
Our family has established one, and we’ve put a “Kyoto Protocol Home Zone” sign in the front yard – to get neighbors curious and inspired. (And we would place one of these signs, a big sign, in front of the White House.)
Some of our energy saving strategies has included not using air-conditioning (there was a time in this country when no one used air conditioning.). In the winter we turn the heat back, close off part of the house, and wear sweaters.
On a “Voice of the People” television show in Hibbings, Minnesota, I explained that to conserve energy even more our family usually bathes every other day – and we all share the same bath water.
Other strategies we’ve researched include putting an insulation sleeve around hot water tanks and adding an on/off shut off valve in the shower-head to make it easier to take “GI showers.” (That is, while soaping up, the shower can be easily turned off.)
Our family has also become very conscious of lighting, trying only to use lights in rooms being used. (In the life of one light bulb, 500 lbs of coal is burned.) And, we started to go to bed a bit earlier, like the Old Order Amish, Mennonites and Quakers.
At a Luddite Congress in Barnesville, Ohio, I heard a speaker say that with improvements in artificial lighting, awake and sleeping cycles have been thrown off, with people staying up on average, considerably later. In tandem, they are then tired all day and need stimulants like caffeine to keep them going.
Think of the electricity we’d save in America if everyone went to bed an hour and a half earlier!
And at a seminar at the Concord Grove Educational Center of Western Michigan, I learned that a compact fluorescent light lasts 13 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb – and uses one-fourth the energy. What’s more, streetlights waste tremendous amounts of energy by shining sideways and up, as opposed to just training the light straight down where it’s needed.
Another key to saving energy is buying less. Many people don’t make this connection, but it takes the burning of fossil fuels to make most items. (For instance, Professor Jon Opperman, who works with the Alternative Vehicles Department at Bowling Green State University, told me, during a campaign stop there, that more energy is used to produce a car at the factory – than will be used to power it during its lifespan.)
And our administration would point to the Voluntary Simplicity Movement, where people are joining together in support groups (shopping for many in America these days has become a compulsive activity) and discussing ways to simplify their lifestyles and cut back significantly on their consumer purchases. In all this, energy gets saved.
I told the Havre (MT) News that ours is not a “prosperity platform;” but rather we’re asking most of the American public to cut back dramatically on their lifestyle, including energy use.
4) Solar Energy
After all this cutting back, there will still be need for electricity. But instead of finding it in the continued burning of oil, coal and other polluting/global warming generating energy sources, our administration would look implement a tremendous shift to clean, renewable energy sources.
We would, for instance, increase solar technology pursuits.
In Burlington, Vermont, Solar Works representative Doug Wells told us the latest thing on the market is a new type of solar home system that actually allows for sending excess energy (generated by solar) into the grid – and the homeowner is reimbursed. In Manchester, Michigan, we researched designs for a “Zero Energy Home,” utilizing a variety of creative passive and active solar applications.
And our administration would propose providing incentives for homeowners, en mass, to make this transition.
We would also point to initiatives like the non-profit “Southwest Desert Sustainability” project.
On stop in Deming, New Mexico, we learned this project is designed to help educate homeowners per: retrofitting with more insulation and the feasibility of going to more alternative ways to heat and cool, like solar. I told a reporter from The Deming Headlight newspaper that our administration would provide regional grants to get similar non-profit initiatives started all over the country.
Another twist to this “Southwest Desert Sustainability” project is that some local high school youth are trained in doing home insulation and alternative energy assessments. This, in turn, starts to educate a whole new generation in the importance of energy efficiency.
When Jimmy Carter was in the White House in the ‘70s, he had solar panels put on the roof. (Ronald Reagan subsequently had them taken down.) At the time, Carter also enacted liberal tax credits for things like solar hot water systems, which have since expired.
Our administration would have them put back up and we would push to have extensive tax credits put back in place for homeowners going to alternative energy. (In the new Energy Bill – Title XIII, Section 1335, there is a tax credit of 30%, up to $2,000, for the installation of new residential solar hot water systems.)
Incidentally, the solar panels at the White House would go up right next to several small, roof-mounted wind turbines.
Photos by Joe
We met with Bob Jurick in Fairborn, Ohio. He spearheaded a drive for a "greenway belt" around Dayton, Ohio.
During our travels, we saw several prairie restoration sites throughout the Great Plains states.