Presidential Endorsement: On ocean conservation issues, the choice is clear. Obama 2012

U.S. flag on the wreck of the Speigel Grove. Photo by Scott Hughes, via Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, after what seems like an eternity of campaigning, millions of Americans will head to the polls to vote for our next President. Voters will consider numerous important issues, such as the economy, national security, and the endorsement of Lindsay Lohan. Recent polling indicates that Americans are split, and the election is expected to be very close. On an issue near and dear to my heart, the conservation of the ocean and marine life, one candidate is by far the best choice. I endorse President Barack Obama for re-election.

After promising to “restore science to its rightful place” in his 2009 inauguration speech, there are indeed many successes in conservation and science that President Obama can boast of. He has invested unprecedented amounts of Federal money in alternative energy sources, which, despite the bankruptcy of a few companies, will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change and ocean acidification- as will increased fuel efficiency standards. Early action resulted in conservation of wilderness rivers and trails, and Federal Everglades restoration funding has increased. Restrictions on stem cell research were greatly reduced, and mercury pollution was restricted by the EPA. Race to the top programs have improved science and math education in several states.

On ocean issues, the Obama administration has  been a leader domestically and internationally. For the first time, the United States has a National Ocean Policy, which aims to reduce conflicts between different ocean stakeholders. President Obama signed both the Shark Conservation Act and the Billfish Conservation Act, which, despite being imperfect, are strong legal tools to protect charismatic and ecologically important top predators- and numerous other successes in improving the management of U.S. shark fisheries are detailed here. The Obama administration has aggressively pursued fisheries conservation internationally, at CITES, regional fisheries management organization meetings, and the Convention on Migratory Species.

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Romney mocked climate change and conservation. Really. That happened. In 2012.

A few weeks ago, the Southern Fried Scientist asked what plans (if any) Mitt Romney had regarding the U.S. National Ocean Policy. Last Thursday night, voters may have gotten our first clue. During the most widely-viewed and important political speech of his life, a speech widely criticized for lacking any kind of policy details, Romney mocked President Obama for trying to do something about sea level rise and the declining state of our environment.

He said, ““President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans…[big pause for audience laughter]… and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” Check out the clip:

There are essentially two ways to interpret the remark and the audience’s reaction. This was one of the biggest laugh lines of the whole convention, so it may have been intended as harmless humor, but why did the audience find it funny? Remember this is the same audience that booed a gay soldier and called for a hypothetical uninsured cancer patient to die a few months ago.

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