It's the big one today and tonight as the elections in the US of A finally draw to a close after 27 years of hard campaigning by the three candidates: Barack 'Barry' Obama, John 'The Mac' McCain and Joe 'The Plumber' Plumber. The Guardian reckon Obama is looking the stronger going into the period where actual voting can take place, rather than the previous whooping and cheering we've seen at rallies over the past few years. No amount of whooping can help the candidates now, it's all down to X's in boxes and the only people who seem to know what's going on are the Federal electoral commission who have some FAQs for voters, notably 'Who won the election?'.
The big question facing anyone working for a more sustainable world is 'Which candidate drives the biggest car?' - best not to look to closely at policies and announcements at this early stage. For this crucial proxy for each candidate's environmental credentials information we turn to the wonderful 'compare-obama-mccain' site, which tells us that both candidates drive the same car. Strictly speaking they drive different cars (McCain a Cadillac CTS and Obama a Chrysler 300C) but they're both American cars so following Jeremy Clarkson logic we'll class them as the same. Key point, Obama's car does one mile less per gallon on the open road, which might seem a little but when you've just travelled around the US a few times in a row, that extra mpg starts to add up to a big thumbs up for McCain.
What about broader environmental credentials? Well, on food, McCain seems to favour Shrimp, Doughnuts, Pizza with Pepperoni and enchiladas, while Obama prefers good ol' Pumpkin Pie and the occaisional take-out pizza. So Obama has the lower carbon diet, unless he's taking extra spicy beef on those take-out pizzas. On literature, McCain favours 'King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table', Obama 'Moby Dick' so no contest there, everybody knows King Arthur was a massive environmentalist.
But it's on musical taste that Obama really cleans up: He can't get those Earth, Wind and Fire songs out of his head, while McCain is full of love for Abba and a selection of 'Maritime and Naval Songs'. Finally, let's look at both candidates ability to go wireless, to surf the web, to communicate without the need to burn some fossils.....yes, it's computer literacy comparison time: Obama is apparently locked to his laptop and his Blackberry while McCain, asked if he used a PC or Mac, stated 'Neither, I am a complete illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get' .
When the election is over we'll be able to have a real look at the direction of policy on environmental matters and notably on energy generation. At the moment, Obama seems to be talking a tougher game in terms of percentage emissions cuts and has made much capital out of his proposed large scale investment in energy efficiciency and renewable sourcing. Unfortunately Obama has talked about the vital role 'Clean coal' can play in securing US energy interests, so we'll wait for that argument to unravel if he reaches office. For McCain Climate change or Global Warming as he calls it, is a big issue and the blurb on the McCain-Palin campaign site talks strongly of a need for action and of McCain's endorsement of a cap and trade approach globally. The devil however, is in the detail and detail comes after the ballot boxes have been put away.