These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.
I posted the responses to the first question (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.
The responses to the second question (concerning research) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.
The responses to the third question (concerning climate change) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.
I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts. My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.
Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water and many other products and services on which we depend every day. Scientists are finding that the variety and variability of life is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of human activity. What steps will you take to protect biological diversity?
Hillary Clinton (D)
Conserving biodiversity is essential to maintaining our quality of life. Healthy soils provide the foundation for agricultural productivity and help absorb carbon; wetlands soak up floodwaters and pollutants and protect our communities; forests filter our water and keep it clean; bees and other pollinators are essential to our food supply; and coral reefs and coastal marshes are nurseries for our fisheries. Although we have made considerable progress protecting our environment and conserving our natural resources, climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, unsustainable management practices, introduction of invasive species and other forces pose serious threats to biodiversity and our way of life.
We need to collaborate across all sectors and at all levels to conserve our natural resources and maintain the viability of our ecosystems. I believe, for example, that we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction. That is why I will work to double the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to help states, tribal nations, and local communities act earlier to conserve wildlife before they become threatened or endangered.
The 100th anniversary of our national park system is also an opportunity to re-energize America’s proud land and wildlife conservation traditions. I will establish an American Parks Trust Fund to scale up and modernize how we protect and enhance our natural treasures, and to better protect wildlife habitat across the country.
Internationally, we need greater cooperation to address declining biodiversity. My Administration will work collaboratively with other nations to advance biodiversity science, further our understanding of the causes of biodiversity loss, and take action to diminish them. We will share information about our conservation successes, including our national parks, fish and wildlife refuge systems, and marine reserves to aid other nations working to protect their natural resources and conserve biodiversity. And we will work collaboratively to end trafficking in wildlife and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing that threatens our oceans.
Donald Trump (R)
For too long, Presidents and the executive branch of our federal government have continued to expand their reach and impact. Today, we have agencies filled with unelected officials who have been writing rules and regulations that cater to special interests and that undermine the foundational notion of our government that should be responsive to the people. Our elected representatives have done little to uphold their oaths of office and have abrogated their responsibilities. When these circumstances occur, there is an imbalance that rewards special interests and punishes the people who should benefit the most from the protection of species and habitat in the United States. In a Trump administration, there will be shared governance of our public lands and we will empower state and local governments to protect our wildlife and fisheries. Laws that tilt the scales toward special interests must be modified to balance the needs of society with the preservation of our valuable living resources. My administration will strike that balance by bringing all stakeholders to the table to determine the best approach to seeking and setting that balance.
Jill Stein (G)
Protecting biodiversity is an extremely important and often overlooked priority. Here is how we will act to protect biodiversity:
- Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
- Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on new GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.
- Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.
- Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.
- Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone.
- Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.
- Support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials and the use of closed-loop, zero waste processes.
First, Trump again gives a non-answer answer. He really doesn’t address the issue, saying that he will bring people together to create a solution. Leadership is more than bringing people to the table; it is about creating a solution when all the parties are there.
It would seem that his primary argument is the need to eliminate executive action but such action takes place because Congress allows special interest to dictate what is being done (at least, he says he will counter the special interests in this regard, even though the special interests would want him in the White House).
Stein’s answer, while in depth, tends to go away from the issue at hand (continuing a trend exhibited in earlier answers). Her early answers show an understanding of the problem but I feel that her later answers are more political in nature and not related to the topic at hand. I am not disagreeing with her but it has seemed as if she moves back to an unstated agenda in her answers.
I believe someone once wrote that Hillary Clinton was a policy wonk and her answers to the first four questions point this out. It will probably drive some of conspiracy theorists crazy that she is suggesting an international approach to this issue but that is a very important part of the problem. One nation cannot make decisions about biodiversity without consultation and agreement with other nations, for the acts of one nation can impede or counter the actions of another.
In the end, there has to be a realization that we all live on this one planet and the actions of one group will impact on other groups that share this planet. I know that is a bit of a cliché but it is true. Decisions must be made on a broad base, not a limited one.