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Backpacker Magazine – November 2008

BACKPACKER Exclusive: Interview with John McCain and Barack Obama

Backcountry enthusiasts deserve a president who cares about trails. So we asked John McCain and Barack Obama ten tough questions–then polled 989 BACKPACKER readers to find out what matters to you in this election.

by: Dave Pidgeon

(Illustrations by Jackie McCaffrey)
(Illustrations by Jackie McCaffrey)

The trail to the White House winds through varied–and at times hazardous–terrain. There's health care, the economy, and energy. Not to mention war and terrorism. You can learn much about how the candidates stand on those issues from newspapers, television, and websites. But 100 years from now, the issue that may just matter most is the preservation of our parks and trails and wild places. And that won't be discussed during any debate. So we asked the candidates about national park funding, global warming, protection for ANWR, and more–including where they go for a good hike.

What experiences have affected your views on the environment?

Obama My connection to the earth was formed during my time in Hawaii, my birthplace. I think those of us who grew up in Hawaii have a particular attachment to the land and understand how fragile it is. When you are snorkeling through the coral reefs, you can see firsthand that a slight change in temperature or increase in sediment and runoff or change in acidification could end up destroying it all and making it unavailable for your children.

McCain I have viewed the tremendous harm that global warming has done to our planet. In Greenland, you can see the glaciers have receded dramatically. You can see the impact in northern Norway. You can go to the South Pole and see incredible damage. These are the visible and disturbing manifestations of climate change, and they should compel us to action.

One-third of our readers say they've witnessed the effects of global warming in our country's wilderness firsthand. How would your administration handle this issue?

McCain The environmental and economic threats posed by climate change are enormous, as are the stakes of how well we deal with the problem. I believe we should pursue a market-based cap-and-trade system to achieve appropriate limits on greenhouse gas emissions. I will ensure that such a system is employed as a means of diversifying the nation's energy mix, which, in turn, will make us less dependent on foreign oil, and thereby place America at the forefront of developing energies and environmental protection technologies that the world will demand for many years to come.

Obama I have frequently said on the campaign trail that tackling global climate change will be a top priority of mine both domestically and internationally. I was the first candidate to present a 100-percent carbon auction within my cap-and-trade proposal to reduce emissions by the amount recommended by top scientists. I am also the only candidate to use the same message on global climate change whether it's in front of environmental audiences or automotive CEOs in Detroit, Michigan.

According to the candidates' environmental planks, both support a cap-and-trade program to regulate carbon emissions (Obama's has the goal of decreasing emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels; McCain's goes to 60 percent below). Obama would have those credits sold at auction (some of the proceeds would be invested in clean energy development); McCain would phase in auctions eventually.



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READERS COMMENTS

Bodacious
Nov 21, 2008

Rumor is that Obama is Kenyan born. Funny how he says Hawaii was his birthplace. Either way he will NOT be good for the USA.

traildog93
Nov 11, 2008

As long as President-Elect Obama puts money and people back to work in the forest it will be such an improvement and a positive step. By implementing some kind of trail management it will only be a positive effect by increasing the economy with Gov. contracts and the quality of our national trail system witch will increase the tourism dollars. A new type of CCC. would also be a great way to fix large sections of our decaying trail system and teach a large group of youth the importance of the forest.

Leroy
Nov 09, 2008

The crap jit the fan the last 2 years when the Dems had control. Pres can't screw up but so much, but congress can and did and will.

nate
Nov 08, 2008

thanks for an issues focused non biased approach to issues that matter to those of us that enjoy the outdoors. Great piece!

gunguy
Nov 08, 2008

I agree that dems are much better for environment over special interest(oil,coal,etc). But whats wrong with law abiders packing a little heat.
They should also be burning instead of cutting forest, this is natural and it will kill the beatles that are destroying the conifer trees in the rockies, in rocky mountain national park there is an imbalance of elk, if they want to make this population healthier, do what yellowstone did and restablish the wolf(this has been very succesful)

fuzzle
Nov 07, 2008

i read these comments and feel that we are hopelessly divided.... :(

Tim
Nov 06, 2008

Some GOP hacks clearly loaded up your poll. McCain a better steward? That's not reality based thinking. As a conservationist, I'm thrilled Obama was elected. Now we have to roll up our sleeves and fix the damage Bush has done - it might take 30 years, but we can finally start!

Daniel
Nov 06, 2008

Four years from now when you Republicans are making more money, receiving better healthcare, and enjoying all the new job opportunities thanks to Obama you won't even notice the minimal tax increase. I'm sure you didn't notice the taxes you've been paying the last six years for the wars in the Middle East. I know that CHANGE is scary for some (especially republicans) but don't worry us Obamamaniacs will hold your hand down the trail and to the voting booth again in 4 years to vote for Obama again. Happy Trails! God Bless Obama.

Steve
Nov 05, 2008

Yes Elissssabeth it's true. The Dems don't hold the monopoly on the environment. Being a good steward of our natural resources is a must. I went to college, became a Republican and now I work every day in protecting water quality and flood control. I work for a Republican in a very Republican place. Good stewardship is just good old fashioned wisdom. It's taking care of what you've been given. It's leaving things better than you found it. I know Republicans who are creating wetland habitat on their own land. I know Republicans who are working to restore rivers and streams. The truth is that Republicans, the people who make up the party of Teddy Roosevelt - who started the National Park system, are working very hard to continue that legacy because we know that our natural resources are a trust that are to be protected, nurtured and passed on to the next generation. We've been blessed in this country, it makes sense to take care of it. This is something for both Republicans and Democrats. Tell you what, next time we pass each other on the trail, and you don't instantly recognize me as a Republican, that's ok. Just smile and say hi. Then, if you do think of me as a heartless barbarian, well, just smile and say hi anyway. Happy trails!

Steve
Nov 05, 2008

Maybe a good question would have been, "When did you last go hiking?" McCain is an avid hiker. Not sure about the other guy.

elissssabeth
Nov 05, 2008

OMG, I can't believe I am looking at a wilderness thread where people claiming to be environmentalists actually voted Republican.

Hel-LO...Republicans just undid over twenty years' worth of hard-earned environmental protection legislation with one president, GW Bush.

That "spreading the wealth around" thing...you call socialism...yeah, I want my taxes spread around...to take care of OUR parks, OUR wilderness areas, OUR endangered species, OUR libraries, OUR public schools. That's the idea of taxes...to pay for things everyone is free to use! I like public parks ans libraries and other social services, so slap me down and call me Karl Marx I guess.

I can't understand how any person who claims to love the environment can possibly ever vote Republican.

Anonymous
Nov 05, 2008

I think the Flag in front of the White House Tuesday night were correct, Communist, or at least socialism will be here within 18 months. After we all pay the increased prices for the products that taxes were raised on, we won't have the money to go to our national forests!!!

Raymond Price
Nov 05, 2008

First of all for all the people out there that think drilling in ANWR is the fix all to our dependence on foreign oil let us take a look at the facts. ANWR only has 10 Billion Barrels of oil which may sound like a lot of oil but is actually the amount of oil the United States uses in one years time. So drilling in ANWR is obviously not the answer. The environmental risk involved is just too great for the end result to be the tainting of our nation's last great unadulterated wilderness. We all know the oil industries track record on being able to extract and transport oil in a safe and responsible way that put the environment first. They just cannot achieve the low level of environmental risk that we need in such a nature sensitive area. Alaska is where the majority of our fish stocks are held and we must protect that area at all costs. The day will come when the oil must be extracted for national security purposes, but that day must be indefinitely delayed until there is no other option available. Sound investment and research into green and renewable sources of energy must be made and followed through upon in order for the Untied States to really break their dependence on foreign oil, for as long as oil is our main source of fuel, domestic energy independence is but a dream.

Raymond Price
Nov 05, 2008

First of all for all the people out there that think drilling in ANWR is the fix all to our dependence on foreign oil let us take a look at the facts. ANWR only has 10 Billion Barrels of oil which may sound like a lot of oil but is actually the amount of oil the United States uses in one years time. So drilling in ANWR is obviously not the answer. The environmental risk involved is just too great for the end result to be the tainting of our nation's last great unadulterated wilderness. We all know the oil industries track record on being able to extract and transport oil in a safe and responsible way that put the environment first. They just cannot achieve the low level of environmental risk that we need in such a nature sensitive area. Alaska is where the majority of our fish stocks are held and we must protect that area at all costs. The day will come when the oil must be extracted for national security purposes, but that day must be indefinitely delayed until there is no other option available. Sound investment and research into green and renewable sources of energy must be made and followed through upon in order for the Untied States to really break their dependence on foreign oil, for as long as oil is our main source of fuel, domestic energy independence is but a dream.

laughing
Nov 05, 2008

Now all you McCain morons can suck it! You have been spanked..

Angela
Nov 04, 2008

So some of you think Obama will bankrupt the country. Sorry to tell you but Bush and Chenney
already did that. The republicans have been the worst for the environment, for the economy and the worst for everything else. I welcome Obama as President and know he will do a great job.

Anonymous
Nov 04, 2008

Humm... seems to me like the more I get taxed by Obama the less I will have to give to my conservation efforts...much less get out and enjoy the wilderness.

Jimmy
Nov 04, 2008

It would be great if this one issue (the environment) was the only one that really mattered. Unfortunately, it is not. As Americans, we all have to live and work (most of us work, anyway) within our economic system. That system depends on many things, but one of the most important is petroleum. I'm all for alternatives that make sense, and green when it truly is green, but until we perfect the alternatives and have them affordable and in abundance, we have to have the petroleum available. With technology today, we can to some degree have our cake and eat it too. I don't like being held hostage by oil-exporting countries. OPEC wants to control the price of a barrel of oil, and have already taken steps toward doing it. That's nothing new, I know, but our country has ignored the warnings before. This time we better wake up and realize that we may have to drill in ANWR, or offshore, to preserve our way of life that allows us to get in our own vehicles and drive anywhere in this great country to hike and camp and enjoy the outdoors. What good are place like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone to me if I can't afford to get there?

Steve
Nov 04, 2008

G.O.P. =Gas and Oil Party. These corrupt special interest purveyors have sold out our open spaces. As a westerner, I've seen the "revolving door" industry-Dept of Interior (where they conveniently rewrite federal law to line their pockets)-then back to industry. Look at the Upper Green River Valley, the Red Desert..... The GOP is government corruption at its worst. McCain has had to sell out to the right wing. Is "drill baby drill" really a comprehensive energy policy? Palin? Give me a break? Motocross on the White House lawn---lol, but it's probably true.

Kim
Nov 04, 2008

FYI - McCain's voting record for the environment is dismal at best. PLEASE Take a look at his environmental scorecard through the League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club. The McCain/Palin duo will strip our land to make way for more urban sprawl, oil-drilling, and ORV roads among other atrocities.

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