Did You See the Snowman Last Night at the Debates?

I thought the Dems debates last night were the best I’ve ever seen (I watched them streaming on Cnn.com since I don’t have cable). That the questions came from real people via YouTube was THE BEST IDEA EVER! (and the videos submitted by us crazy citizens were funny, sad, poignant, and most importantly, touched on really tough issues!)

So first off, CONGRATS to all those questioners that I share the great USA with…YOU made me proud to be an American (the politicians, well, they were being politicians, you know?. Of course the highlight was the snowman/global warming question! Check it out!

(Answers taken from the NYTimes transcript of the debates.)

COOPER: It’s a funny video. It’s a serious question. Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: Well, we have to understand the connection between global warring and global warming. Because when we start talking about wars for oil, we’re essentially keeping the same approach to energy.


So I’m saying we need to move away from reliance on oil and coal and toward reliance on wind and solar.

KUCINICH: Anderson, that’s the basis of my WGA, Works Green Administration, where we take an entirely new approach to organize the entire country around sustainability, around conservation. We don’t have to have our snowmen melting, and the planet shouldn’t be melting either.

COOPER: Are the people on this stage, are your fellow candidates, are they green enough?

KUCINICH: No. And I think that the reason is that if you support, for example, in Iraq, if you say that Iraq should privatize its oil for the U.S. oil companies, then what you’re doing is you’re continuing a commitment to use more oil. If you believe that all options should be put on the table with respect to Iran, that’s about oil.

So we need to move away from reliance on oil…


KUCINICH: … and that’s really connected to our defense policy, and I’m the one who gets the connection.

COOPER: All right.


WHY didn’t other candidates answer such an important question???? Too hard???

Then there was the very cute compact fluorescent light question:

COOPER: Senator Gravel, how do you get Americans to conserve?

GRAVEL: Very simple, change our tax structure. Have a fair tax where people are taxed on what they spend rather than what they earn. And our tax system is totally corrupt right now.

And so if we now have a retail sales tax, you’ll take this nation of ours from a consuming nation to a savings nation.

GRAVEL: And that’s the most significant thing we can do to alter climate change.


COOPER: Senator Dodd?

DODD: Anderson, there are a number of things. The 50-mile-per- gallon standard is something I’ve advocated by 2017, that I would push hard for. Entire fleet of federal automobiles would be hybrids or electric automobiles, so we reduce even further out consumption.

But I believe I’m the only candidate here, along with Al Gore, who’s called for that, is a corporate carbon tax. You’ve got to tax polluters. You’ve got to separate the price differential so that we can move away from fossil fuels that do so much damage to our environment, to our economy, to our future, to jobs in this country.

Until you deal with the issue of price, until you impose a corporate carbon tax, we will never get away from fossil fuels. It’s the only way this can be achieved. You have to advocate that if you’re serious about global warming.

COOPER: The question was about personal sacrifice. I just want to ask a question to…

DODD: I drive a hybrid, we have a hybrid, and we use efficient light bulbs in our homes…

COOPER: So let me just ask a question to everyone on this stage. And I know we said we wouldn’t do a lot of show of hands. This is probably the only one we’ll do tonight.

COOPER: How many people here a private jet or a chartered jet to get here tonight?

You’re not sure?


RICHARDSON: Yesterday.

COOPER: Yesterday, OK.



COOPER: Senator Gravel, what was that? You took the train?

GRAVEL: I took the train…



GRAVEL: And maybe one of these will give me a ride someday.


CLINTON: Anderson, you know, we haven’t really seriously addressed this incredibly important issue of global warming and energy efficiency.

COOPER: We’ve got another question on it’s way now.


AND, the pro-nuke question (oy):

COOPER: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: Wind, solar, cellulose-based biofuels are the way we need to go. I do not favor nuclear power. We haven’t built a nuclear power plant in decades in this country. There is a reason for that. The reason is it is extremely costly. It takes an enormous amount of time to get one planned, developed and built. And we still don’t have a safe way to dispose of the nuclear waste. It is a huge problem for America over the long term.

I also don’t believe we should liquefy coal. The last thing we need is another carbon-based fuel in America. We need to find fuels that are in fact renewable, clean, and will allow us to address directly the question that has been raised, which is the issue of global warming, which I believe is a crisis.

COOPER: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix. There are no silver bullets to this issue. We have to develop solar. I have proposed drastically increasing fuel efficiency standards on cars, an aggressive cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted.

OBAMA: But we’re going to have to try a series of different approaches.

The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of — we’ve been talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for decades.

And the reason it doesn’t change — you can take a look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups once. He met with renewable energy folks once. And then he met with oil and gas companies 40 times. And that’s how they put together our energy policy. We’ve got to put the national interests ahead of special interests, and that’s what I’ll do as president of the United States.


COOPER: Senator Clinton, what is Senator Edwards — why is he wrong on nuclear power?

CLINTON: First of all, I have proposed a strategic energy fund that I would fund by taking away the tax break for the oil companies, which have gotten much greater under Bush and Cheney.


And we could spend about $50 billion doing what America does best. It’s time we start acting like Americans again.

CLINTON: We can solve these problems if we focus on innovation and technology.

So, yes, all these alternative forms of energy are important. So is fuel efficiency for cars and so is energy efficiency for buildings.

I’m agnostic about nuclear power. John is right, that until we figure out what we’re going to do with the waste and the cost, it’s very hard to see nuclear as a part of our future. But that’s where American technology comes in. Let’s figure out what we’re going to do about the waste and the cost if we think nuclear should be a part of the solution.

But this issue of energy and global warming has the promise of creating millions of new jobs in America.


CLINTON: So it can be a win-win, if we do it right.


There were lots of other great questions on gay marriage (such a cute video!), taxes, the war, healthcare, liberalism, religion…really it’s worth it to watch the whole thing!

So, who do you think won the debate? Has your opinion on anyone changed? I was just so impressed by both Barak’s and Hillary’s speaking abilities, but mostly I’m a Kucinich supporter. How about you?

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.