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Pro Life and Not a Planet Baker: Why I’m voting for Barack Obama

Winona LaDuke
10/31/12

Let’s start big. It’s official. Climate change is no longer a topic of the presidential election banter. Since pretty much no one has mentioned climate change for the past three months, we must be free and clear. As I watch the east coast get hammered with Hurricane Sandy, and 7.4 million people out of power, I note that politicians may be wrong.

I just spent an evening with my Harvard classmate Bill McKibben, president of 350.org, who sobered me up a bit on where we are. As of May, we had broken world temperature records for the 327th month in a row. Worldwide, we broke maybe 100,000 temperature records this year. This year we saw the sea ice melt in the Arctic, making it possible to move through the region, and to exploit more oil, deeper than ever. Nice, except if you are a polar bear, or happen to live on Christmas Island, Tuvalu or other Pacific countries, which are now going underwater. Then, there is our food, coming from the ocean to a Red Lobster near you. The north Pacific itself is already about 30 percent more acidic than it was 25 years ago. That is climate change.

In Copenhagen, in a post conference accord, l67 countries agreed to not hit the two degree temperature rise mark. We have already driven global temperatures up 0.8 degrees. And if we are interested in the tipping point: Swiss Re, the world's largest reinsurance company predicts that climate-change-related disasters will be costing about 20 percent of world GDP by 2020—that’s a scant eight years away, or two presidential elections. That will be a costly problem for our economy, and for whomever is in the White House.

World leaders also agreed that we could only burn some 565 gigatons of carbon, and, as McKibben explains, “have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees—reasonable in this case means four chances in five…pretty good, except for this is like roulette." Now, here we see the problem on the horizon speeding towards us, you and your kids. The fossil fuel industry has about 2,795 gigatons of carbon already in their “ reserves." That is about five times more than we can safely burn without combusting ourselves to oblivion. But it sure looks good on paper and in corporate portfolios.

The Alberta tar sands (or what is at the other end of the Keystone XL pipeline) represent a big chunk of that carbon—about 240 gigatons, give or take a few. Exxon itself, with some 7 percent of the remaining carbon reserves, calls climate change an "engineering problem with an engineering solution. “ Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson says, "If we need to move our crop production areas, we will.” This is a bit optimistic. Crop production areas are family farms, and they exist on land. You cannot just move a cornfield to the sub arctic. And, unless you are divine, it is unlikely you can make it rain when the farmers need it, without dire consequences elsewhere in the world.

Then there is the pro-life thing. Now, I am pro life. It just turns out that my definition of pro life is a bit broader than that of the Tea Party. New York Times columnist Thomas Freidman reminded me about politicians, who use some kind of “voodoo science" to claim moral terrain. Friedman’s Sunday opinion piece notes, "Hard line conservatives have gone to new extremes lately in opposing abortions. In late October, Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed Republican Senate candidate in Indiana declared during a debate that he was against abortion, even in the event of rape. And Missouri Representative Todd Akin told the press that pregnancy as a result of “legitimate rape” is rare because the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” Wow, that is a really interesting factoid that I, who has a uterus, did not know.

Freidman continues, “In my world you don’t get to call yourself pro-life and be against common sense gun control, like banning public access to the assault rifle which was used…in a Colorado Theater. You don’t get to call yourself pro-life and…shut down the Environmental Protection Agency which ensures clean air and water, prevents childhood asthma and preserves biodiversity….And you don’t get to call yourself pro-life and oppose programs like Headstart.”

I would add that you don’t get to call yourself pro-life if you advocate—by default—for extinction of species; or war, which will result in four out of five casualties being non-combatants, because that is what wars generally cause.

So, where am I going with this column?

I know President Obama does not share my enlightened views on all issues, but, I am dead sure that the terrain should be contested.

I am a person of faith, who does not happen to be Christian.

And I am pro-life, in a much larger sense.

I believe that life should include the Earth.

So there you have it, a two time Green Party Candidate for vice president and I am voting for Barack Obama, because I am pro-life and want to see our descendants have a beautiful life on our Mother Earth.

Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) is an internationally acclaimed author, orator and activist. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities with advanced degrees in rural economic development, LaDuke has devoted her life to protecting the lands and life ways of Native communities.

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andre's picture
I can appreciate everyone supporting their candidate. I really like when people exercise their right to vote. I am not sure why we have become a nation with just two party recognition, when both these party's tend to ignore the need of most people. Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, Poverty, Native Issues, Economic Development are all things everyone needs. Yet the Democratic and Republican party's fail to deliver on all these issues. I travel on many an Indian reservation and am appalled at the lack of everything. Yet when pressed for party affiliation, most natives will claim either the donkey or the elephant. In the 236 year history of the these United States, founded on the Doctrine of Discovery. I want to think, both of these party's would/could have done more. I am voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate.
andre
theseeker's picture
If only we could get the best of both parties put into another party..... I really believe that it really doesn't matter because it is the rich that run this country. Until we can get money out the poor will never have a say. Even in Congress. All of the politicians when they run for office are either millionaires or will be by the time their first term is up and why is that? Because they are bought from day one and we the people get screwed and as more and more of our rights are taken away and people fight with each other they laugh all the way to the bank.
theseeker
niijii's picture
Neither candidate is pro earth life. Both will continue to extract fossil fuels from "public lands" for corporate economic gain. I am 62, enlisted in the Army Infantry at seventeen and have only voted once. That was for the Nadar/Laduke ticket. They did not win. My feeling was if anybody would try and give the air,water, trees etc. legal standing the way Justice Douglas tried to it would be an Anishinabe woman. America is a corporate state acting in its interest and I can't bring myself to participate in this sinister joke some call a democracy.
niijii
gerry's picture
Remember, voting for an third party and independent candidate or not voting at all is a vote for Obama. Vote for Romney.
gerry
gerry's picture
Because of Obama we have 23 Million Unemployed, 47 Million on food stamps, 5.5 Million homes in crisis/foreclosure, $4500 Drop in Household Income, $5.5 Trillion of New Debt, $716 Billion in Medicare Cuts, $2.6 Trillion for Obamacare and $1.9 Trillion in New Taxes in Obama's Budget. Winona LaDuke, do you want four more years of Obama’s deception and lies? Than you vote for him. God help America.
gerry
tmsyr11's picture
Which is why I will not be voting for Barack Obama considering HIS PROMISES THE OBAMA CHRONICLES: “I promise 100% transparency in my administration.”. “I promise NO NEW TAXES on a family making less than $250K a year.”. “I will allow 5 days of public comment before I sign any bills.”. “I will remove earmarks from PORK projects before I sign any bill.”. “I will end Income Tax for seniors making less than $50K a year.”. "I will bring ALL of our troops home within ONE year." “I’ll put the Health Care negotiations on CSPAN so everyone can see who is at the table!”. “I’ll have no lobbyists in my administration." "I'll close Guantanamo." "I'll resign if I don't cut the deficit in half by the end of four years." "I'll unite the people of this great country." Everything that Barack Obama stated ended up being FALSE PROMISES. And he is making them AGAIN! If Barack Obama as an 'appointed' Representative of the US Government CANNOT function as a "LEADER" in negotiating with Lower level Congressional representatives, HOW can this man Obama continue to function as a 'Leader" to the rest of the world? Barack Obama has spent far too much time PLAYING SOFTBALL Games with the likes of Oprah, the View, Letterman, Leno, etc. Where was Barack Obama when the country was early dealing and reeling with national catastrophies and calamities?
tmsyr11
notnek's picture
Every form of communication including my favorite web site has become a constant forum for putting ones political views forward. I assume with the wish that those words will change someones mind. The worst of it is either totally false comments or just altering the truth a bit. Then the degrading remarks to someone who honestly puts forward their choice. Constant commercials,comments and slander of political opponents is falling on deaf ears. And the winners are the communication industries, they keep stirring the pot and the cash keeps coming in. More than two billion dollars, I assume that is good for the economy But I for one can't wait for all this to end. Given our Indian history and all the terrible events that was endured by our ancestors we (I ) am still an American, I will vote, I have made up my mind, and I really would like my favorite website back dealing with everyday issues in Indian County.
notnek
stevef's picture
My favorite is the 'Pro-Life' and Obama in the same sentence. Like me saying I support PETA. People Eating Tasty Animals! I too am tired of Obama's lies and NOT voting for Obama. Steve
stevef
gerry's picture
In March of 2008, Candidate Obama went off teleprompter while talking about sex education for children, and he said, "Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby.” What are his values and his morals based on? They can’t be based on the Bible. The Bible says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”, Jeremiah 1:5. Obama is playing God when he makes such a statement. He is really saying to God, “It’s all right to murder babies, if a woman makes a mistake”. Imagine, telling God Almighty his reasoning for abortion! How can we support a leader of our country when he mocks God’s Word. How can he say he stands with Israel, when he doesn't practice God’s principles. He knows the Bible scripture of Genesis 12:3 that says, “(1) Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. (2) And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Why doesn't he acknowledge the Bible’s warnings? He knows the “Natural Disasters” that have been occurring in our country because of his failure to truthfully support Israel. He says he is a Christian, but he doesn't walk the talk. Unless Obama leads by the principles of the Bible, our country is in dire danger!
gerry