By Janette Rosenbaum, 350 Madison
In November 2018, Wisconsinites will vote for a governor. This post is the twelfth in a series on the environmental views of the candidates. This series is for information only. 350 Madison does not officially support any candidate.
What are the most important issues that you would take on if you were elected?
“The first thing we have to do is to take back our government,” said Arnie Enz, “because right now it doesn’t represent us. Until we fix that, we can’t fix the most important problems that we have that we don’t talk about in our society.”
We need to get the money out of politics, explained Enz, who is running for the Wisconsin Party, a political organization of his own invention. We need to change the system, or those who are currently on the inside will continue to remain in power.
“We’ve been going down a path of greater and greater corruption in politics,” said Enz. He noted that this is hardly a new problem, but said, “We have to change. We’ve proven that we can’t do it through our judicial or our legislative process.”
How will we change politics, then? We need nothing less than a constitutional amendment, Enz said, since the Supreme Court isn’t likely to overturn Citizens United any time soon. “In the meantime,” Enz told us, “what we can do is we can demand our politicians to stop spending these exorbitant amounts of money.”
Enz is not putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak: he’s accepting no donations at all and campaigning on $1,000 or less of his own money. By travelling around the state and talking to people, he’s already gathered the signatures he needs to get on the ballot. And because he created his own political party, he gets to skip the primaries and go straight to November’s general election ballot.
Scott Walker and his Democratic challengers will spend a lot of money on advertising, even though no one wants to see their commercials, read their fliers, or receive their robocalls, Enz said. And even though we try to ignore these political ads, we still are being subtly manipulated by them. “I want us to wake up to the fact that we’re being manipulated,” Enz said.
Where would you rate environmental issues on your priority list?
“It’s by far the most important issue facing humanity,” Enz stated. “Not just Wisconsin, all of humanity. We live on a planet of 7.6 billion people, rapidly heading towards 10 billion people.”
Enz laid out the facts: the United States has 4.25% of the world’s people, but uses 25% – 30% of the world’s resources. “That’s point-blank unsustainable.”
Enz then drew connections between these facts and topics that get a lot more attention in the political realm. “We’re a nation that takes advantage of resources around the globe,” he said, and to get those resources, we exploit other countries in ways that are contributing to the current crises involving refugees and immigrants.
The amount of resources used by Westerners, as well as the growing global population, also cause other problems. “We have a carrying capacity on this planet, and we’re exceeding that carrying capacity,” Enz pointed out. Referring to the Planetary Boundaries Report produced by the Stockholm Resilience Center a few years ago, he reminded us that we are already exceeding four of the nine ‘safe operating boundaries’, by damaging the integrity of our biosphere, depleting atmospheric ozone, acidifying the oceans, and putting too much carbon into the atmosphere.
“We are completely and utterly unsustainable,” Enz said. “We are going off a cliff in terms of the Earth’s capacity to support our species.”
“It’s not just global warming,” Enz concluded. “We don’t really talk about these things.”
As for how long we have to fix these problems, Enz told us, “By 2050, it’s essentially game over.” That gives us only 30 years to take action, when change on the scale we need usually takes closer to 50 years. “We have to start now,” Enz stated simply.
Within the broad topic of the environment, what do you think are the most important issues?
“The first thing we need to do is wake up to this,” Enz replied. “We have to realize, it’s a change of mindset.”
Getting on top of the environmental crisis will take more than arguing about policy, Enz explained. First, we will need to raise awareness and consciousness. Becoming the governor of Wisconsin would give him the visibility and influence to make this happen.
Next, we would need to make fundamental changes to our economy. “We have to talk about putting the brakes on our economy,” Enz said. “It’s not like we can slam on the brakes and come to a complete stop and do a U-turn, but we have to put the brakes on.”
We need to stop making things worse, Enz summarized, before uttering the bold suggestion, “Let’s talk about zero GDP growth.”
Third, we can begin to discuss the policy options. “That’s an encyclopedia of things that we have to start talking about,” Enz said, before diving into a list of ideas. Among other possibilities, he spoke in favor of less centralization in our government and business sector. Instead, we need “local, distributed, sustainable energy generation.”
We’ll accomplish the shift away from fossil energy with new technologies, Enz thinks, but “we also have to recognize our own hubris with things, in that we have to look to natural systems and how they generate power.” Aside from the big systemic changes we’ll need to make, Enz also foresees people consuming less, by, for example, growing their own gardens, eating less meat, driving more slowly, and buying fewer T-shirts. By changing how we live, we will be able to escape “the paradigm that is fundamentally broken.”
Where would you rate climate change on your priority list?
“It’s one of the nine planetary boundaries,” Enz reiterated, “so to me it’s one of those nine things, and they’re all equal in my opinion.”
Enz believes that we need to address our energy usage, in order to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, bring down global temperatures, and solve problems with other pollutants. But, Enz noted, of the nine boundaries, energy usage is the most difficult to tackle.
“It’s a hard problem,” Enz acknowledged. “Natural processes over the long haul are slow to extract the CO2 out of the atmosphere.”
But Enz was no fan of artificial processes, such as cloud-seeding and space-mirror strategies that could theoretically reduce global warming. “They’re kind of hokey, and I can’t put a whole lot of faith in them,” Enz said. “When it fails, it fails massively.”
If you were elected governor, what would you do to address climate change, and how soon would you do it?
“The first thing is to raise awareness around it,” Enz repeated. “It’s almost a spiritual calling.”
Having made that high-level statement, he then went after some very specific targets. “Let’s stop building new Foxconn plants,” Enz suggested. “We shouldn’t build new pipelines. … Let’s do capital investments within our existing infrastructure. That’s the tapping of the brakes.”
Enz explained that instead of building new infrastructure, we should rebuild our existing infrastructure, making it safer without increasing its capacity. We can’t allow our resource usage to continue growing. Invoking the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors, Enz said, “Let’s stop doing harm.”
“We have trillions of dollars invested in our global economic infrastructure,” Enz concluded. We need to start changing mindsets and having conversations about how to back out of these investments. “We need to make decisions that are more in alignment with the totality of the natural world around us.”
Do you know what Line 61 is?
“That’s a proposed energy line,” Enz said immediately. In fact, Line 61 has been in the ground since 2009. Its “twin”, Line 66, is currently only a proposal.
Enz reiterated that we need to stop building new pipelines, and focus on making existing pipelines safer. As an example, Enz pointed to Enbridge’s Line 5, which he identified as having been under the Mackinac Straits of Michigan since the late ’50s or early ’60s. “Man, that’s crazy!” Enz said, referring to the hazards of having such an old pipeline in such a dangerous location. “Let’s shut that thing down.”
Enz didn’t advocate rapidly decommissioning all pipelines. Instead, he suggested, “Let’s work with energy companies… to build new systems that are distributive, local, and sustainable.” As far as the existing systems, Enz said Enbridge should be held responsible for making its pipelines “safe as hell.”
Ultimately, Enz concluded, “The reason these things exist are because people consume. We have to cut our consumption.”
“We have to go back to the older ideas of civic engagement,” Enz said. “Let’s have heartfelt conversations… without making ad hominem attacks or demonizing a person.”
Finally, Enz told us that the core of his platform is “leave it better than you found it,” which is what we teach our children. For this reason, he hopes people will share his message, and will vote for him in November.