McCain weighs in on ocean health: but what’s missing?

John McCain has now stepped up to the plate presented by the Sciencedebate2008 folks. Hats off to them, by the way, for posing 14 questions to both U.S. presidential candidates. They’ve lined up the answers online, for maximum ease in comparing and contrasting.

We of course went right to McCain’s answer on ocean health. FYI, the question read:

“Scientists estimate that some 75 percent of the world’s fisheries are in serious decline and habitats around the world like coral reefs are seriously threatened. What steps, if any, should the United States take during your presidency to protect ocean health?”

A glaring omission from McCain’s answer: ocean acidification.

He does give a nod to “the interaction of climate change and the oceans.” His statement continues:

“We need to better understand the ocean’s role in the carbon cycle, in the effects of the massive amount of fresh water resulting from the melting of polar ice, which could dramatically affect global weather patterns, and in the effects of warmer ocean waters on weather – especially coastal storms – and on marine life. Ocean science and engineering is a field that deserves greater attention and focus.”

No mention at all of the oceans’ role in absorbing carbon. Nor of what a McCain administration would do specifically to give ocean science “greater attention.” We’d have liked to see even a nod to increasing research budgets.

Of equal concern to us is the glaring absence of an international perspective: his stance smacks of isolationism. How can we discuss global environmental issues without discussing international cooperation? Where does he stand on the Kyoto Protocol and the upcoming COP-15? While McCain’s answer to the climate change question does call for various measures to reduce carbon emissions, they are all U.S.-centric.

For a clear, point-by-point comparison of McCain vs. Obama on ocean health, see The Oyster’s Garter, a blog we just discovered. It’s jointly powered by a journalist and a marine biologist, a married couple who share a taste for zombies and space-fish. What’s not to like?, 16 September 2008. Article.

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