For years, the US’s dilemma, like Europe’s current dilemma, has been a question of focus: should we center our efforts on supporting a weakening economy, or addressing burgeoning environmental issues? After Obama’s reelection, that question seemed to have been answered, when he made it known that climate change will be a cornerstone of his second term. In addition, the American people’s attitude changed: in a Pew Research Center poll from October, there was large agreement that climate change is manmade and a serious problem that needs to be resolved.
Younger voters, what the WSJ calls “Campus and Careers”, and Latino voters, or “Immigration Nation”, are significant in spurring change to climate change policy. As more people — even those who are conservatively-inclined — believe that climate change has been caused by human activities, and the more votes Congress can garner, the more action Congress can take on the situation.
However, a good deal of the issue with reining in climate change has to do with greenhouse gas emissions. Many lawmakers say that curbing emissions will stunt the US’s economic recovery. California recently put such a program, called “cap and trade“, into effect. The program is a a governmental, statewide system that places a restriction on the amount of emissions a company can produce, or a ‘cap’.
Though no immediate action for climate change is on the table, hopefully President Obama will hold up his end of the deal and address our warming climate. The US federal government, and perhaps even state governments, could also take a cue from California. US leadership is critical to restart stalled global dialogue. A very wise Chinese philosopher — Confucius — once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Now that China is world’s number one carbon dioxide emitter, followed by the US, a joint Chino-American initiative is in order. Perhaps the US’s new Secretary of States John Kerry will make this happen.
Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
March 12, 2013
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