2006 Elections

Several countries have recently lowered their voting age to 16, including Brazil and Austria. On the other-hand Iran has recently raised theirs up to 18, bringing them to bar with America. Why, in a country where kids receive free education, do we feel that kids aren’t informed enough to vote? Children in america are now expected to do more and more, with college level classes available at young ages, kids as a majority are more and more educated at younger and younger ages, so why can’t they vote at a younger age? A large argument is that most of the 16-17 year olds won’t vote anyways, but few young people vote to begin with, so why not give the power to more kids and then more kids will be showing up to vote, just because all of the kids won’t come out to vote doesn’t mean that the few who would should be denied the privilege. In addition isn’t the whole point of democracy that the people decide? So does someone become a person when they turn 18? Is it not true that laws affect today’s youth as well as the today’s adults?
Does the government really care about kids? Or only “people” that can vote? Maybe today’s youth would be better off if they were voting for what they wanted, instead of waiting until they are too old to remember what they wanted and they only know what the government wants.

Inspired by: Sixteen Candles, but Few Blazing a Trail to the Ballot Box


In the last 6 years, science has taken a backseat to faith in America. Our government, for reasons both spiritual and economical, has refused to acknowledge irrefutable evidence regarding, among other things, global warming, carbon emissions, stem cell research, water and air pollution and the environmental impact of oil drilling. And while we can’t expect any drastic changes overnight, the results of the recent midterm elections will hopefully usher in a new era of legislative concern for the environment and scientific research.

We hope Cantwell, Tester and McNerney all treat us right in the years to come. Check out this WIRED article that came out before the elections. It gives you a pretty good idea of which agencies and programs have suffered at the hands of scientifically skeptical lawmakers. With the election of so many green and progressive representatives, we’re hopeful for the future.

And, to get a little more specific, here’s another article on Global Warming with specific examples of how climate change is affecting wildlife in certain regions. And since it’s always good to have some ammunition when dealing with skeptics, here’s Grist.org’s guide to climate change discussions. It’s a thorough outline with talking points, scientific evidence and strategies to help you convince the naysayers that the problem is real.

And lastly, here’s the Panasonic Eco&UD House website. The Eco&UD house was designed to maximize comfort and quality of life while minimizing environmental impact. the house has all kinds of cool stuff built in to it like a rainwater pooling and purification system. Plus, the site’s got a decent amount of Engrish on it, so you can have a laugh while you learn.

Looks like almost all of the ballot results from yesterday’s elections are in. And while we’re not really sure how to take the Lincoln Chafee loss in RI (the guy was real green), Maria Cantwell won in Washington State and Jerry McNerney beat Richard “El Diablo” Pombo in California. We can expect some strong pro-environmental actions from these representatives in the years to come. Hopefully our legislature won’t get bogged down with irrelevant, distracting votes and they’ll actually be able to enact some real, positive change for the country.

Best of luck to all of our newly and re-elected friends.

Hi Everyone! The first three Team Gaia videos have been posted on YouTube! Go check them out and see what the Team has been working on. We’ve got footage from the Team Gaia Town Meeting, our first political primer and a hilarious, but poignant short film on global warming.

Please sign up for a free YouTube account. You’ll then be able to rate, comment on and subscribe to all of our videos.

Click on the links below to see the videos:

Team Gaia Town Meeting – Starting a Gaia-lution!

Get Smart, America! – Starting a Gaia-lution!

Global Warming – Flesh Burning

This one isn’t really a case of Who’s Mean, but rather of who’s more green.

For our third look at this year’s congressional races, we’ve decided to spotlight the Rhode Island Senatorial race between the incumbent Lincoln Chafee (Rep.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (Dem.). Chafee is the former mayor of Warwick, RI who ascended to his father’s position in the Senate after John Chafee died in 1999. Whitehouse is the Clinton-appointed, pro-environment ex-U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island.

The odd, difficult thing about this race is that Chafee is considered by Republican leadership to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

Chafee’s positions:

  • He’s Anti-ANWR drilling
  • He’s the only Republican Senator to have voted against the Iraq invasion
  • He’s pro-Gay Marriage (not to be confused with being pro-civil union)
  • He’s pro-stem cell research
  • He’s endorsed by the Sierra Club and by the League of Conservation Voters
  • He’s pro-choice
  • He advocates higher standards of energy efficiency in the U.S. and believes in developing alternative energy sources

From the information on Whitehouse’s website, his proposals don’t really seem to differ much from Chafee’s. Here are some of his credentials:

  • Former U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island
  • Won Save The Bay’s 2003 Environmental Advocacy Award
  • Sued to block the Bush Administration’s weakening of the Clean Air Act
  • Supports the development of clean, alternative energy sources

Chafee is clearly more to the left than most Democrats. Republican leadership is still stumping for and supporting him, though, as they need his vote on the more central, party-line issues like health care and other forgotten favorites. But a look at his voting record reveals that the man votes with Democrats on most, if not all social issues.

Whitehouse’s central campaign theme is that Republicans have failed the country. Despite his opponent’s progressive, left-leaning politics, Whitehouse suggests the “R” next to Chafee’s name is enough reason to vote him out of office.

What’s your take on this?

The second congressional race that we at Team Gaia are closely following is between incumbent Richard Pombo (R-Ca) and Jerry McNerney for the 11th Congressional district of California. From what we’ve gathered in our research, Pombo’s involved in some pretty sketchy stuff ranging from questionable land deals all the way to being implicated in the Jack Abramoff scandal. McNerney holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and is highly esteemed as an expert in wind power and other renewable energy sources.

Pombo’s track record:

  • In 2005, he proposed legislation that would have allowed for mining companies to buy lands that had no mineral value at all. Some suspect that this was simply a pro-development ploy delivered under the guise of private property rights concern.
  • He proposed to sell off 1/4 of the land owned by the National Park Service.
  • He’s repeatedly pushed for ANWR drilling, despite the inevitability of a major ecological disturbance in the region.
  • The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have named Pombo one of the 17 most corrupt officials in Washington. The group cited a number of misdeeds including: keeping his family on his payroll, misuse of funds, and accepting campaign contributions in exchange for legislative assistance.

Here are the facts on Jerry McNerney:

  • CEO of a wind turbine production company.
  • Public / Mass transit advocate.
  • His campaign platform emphasizes the need for the U.S. to not only develop renewable energy sources, but also to increase the efficiency of our existing energy infrastructure.
  • McNerney wants to end government subsidies for fossil fuel extraction and redirect those funds toward renewable energy development.
  • Clean air advocate.
  • Wants to increase subsidies to small farmers in his district.

The Importance of True Energy Independence

“Energy independence” is a beltway buzzword these days, with both sides of the aisle liberally peppering their stump speeches with the phrase. But before we get too excited about our suddenly progressive representation, we should consider that the expression can mean a couple of different things.

  1. Independence From Crude Oil and Natural Gas – This “independence” speaks more to the development of alternative, renewable fuels. We can see this at play in the emergence of wind power, hydroelectricity, bio-diesel, and other energy sources, which leads to an independence from the old means of energy production.
  1. Independence From The Traditional Suppliers of Crude Oil – While not altogther negative, the connotation of this “independence” is more short-sighted in nature. While lessening the US dependence on foreign oil will no doubt force us to improve our own energy infrastructure, we’ll still have to find oil in this country. This means more drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and a likely destabilization of the environment.

And since you won’t often hear about the side-effects of domestic drilling or that your candidate takes campaign contributions from oil companies, it pays to do your homework and find out what they’re really saying. Don’t get duped!

Pombo’s Official Campaign Site

McNerney’s Official Campaign Site

The 2006 General Election is 11 days away. While certain hot-button issues like the war in Iraq, civil unions and economic issues have taken center stage in debates across the country, another equally divisive matter – the environment – has become a key factor in many races.

With the ever-growing concern of global warming recently thrust into the spotlight by former Vice President Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth,” it’s becoming harder and harder for elected officials to ignore the American public’s demand for alternative, renewable energy sources. Between the problems of increasing pollution, greenhouse gases and consistently rising gas prices, the people in this country are being hit hard by an inactive, and at times ignorant legislature. It goes without saying that we need our representatives in both the House and Senate to start taking proactive steps to fund research into alternative energy sources and also into improving the efficiency of existing gas and oil-powered processes.

And yet, it’s not just fossil fuels that concern Team Gaia and other conservation-minded organizations in this country. We’re also seeing a threat to our national parks and wildlife refuges by folks who see no problem in opening up protected lands to highway building, advertising and developers. As we lose more and more protected lands to the myopic, avaricious interests of socially irresponsible congressmen and developers, we lose integral parts of the American ecology. We need to help our representatives understand that our well-being as humans and as a nation is inextricably linked to the quality of our forests, soil and water. Apathy is simply not an option.

And while we can’t expect huge changes in environmental policy from just one election, the results of the contest on November 7th should give us a pretty good feel for how things will be moving in the next few years. That said, here’s the first of a few House and Senate races that we think are worth watching:

  • Washington St. – Maria Cantwell (Dem) vs. Mike McGavick (Rep)

According to Grist, Cantwell is the first national candidate this year to be endorsed by both the League of Conservation Voters and The Sierra Club. While she’s tended to vote with party leadership on issues like the invasion of Iraq and the PATRIOT Act, she’s worked steadfastly to protect the environment. Cantwell voted against the last attempt by Alaskan Sen. Ted Stevens to open up the ANWR for drilling and has made efforts to protect energy market manipulation.

McGavick, on the other hand, is a former insurance company executive who’s supported by the pro ANWR-drilling Alaskans and oil companies. It would seem that this is one of the biggest points of contention for the two candidates, as McGavick’s website claims that he wants to curb human contribution to climate change and, perhaps just as vaguely, balance development with conservation.

Have a great weekend! We’ll be back with some more races to watch next week.