Saturday, November 10, 2012

Politics and the Environment

The following is a set of # articles that appeared in popular publications. They do illustrate though the interaction between politics and the environment very clearly. Please read them in the order that they appear and then comment .  The first article by David Brooks is what set off this debate.

A Sad Green Story

The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming. I got my first ride in a Prius from a conservative foreign policy hawk who said that these new technologies were going to help us end our dependence on Middle Eastern despots. You’d go to Silicon Valley and all the venture capitalists, it seemed, were rushing into clean tech.
From that date on the story begins to get a little sadder.
Al Gore released his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. The global warming issue became associated with the highly partisan former vice president. Gore mobilized liberals, but, once he became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone.
Then, in 2008, Barack Obama seized upon green technology and decided to make it the centerpiece of his jobs program. During his presidential campaign he promised to create five million green tech jobs. Renewable energy has many virtues, but it is not a jobs program. Obama’s stimulus package set aside $90 billion for renewable energy loans and grants, but the number of actual jobs created has been small. Articles began to appear in the press of green technology grants that were costing $2 million per job created. The program began to look like a wasteful disappointment.
Federal subsidies also created a network of green tech corporations hoping to benefit from taxpayer dollars. One of the players in this network was, again, Al Gore. As Carol Leonnig reported in The Washington Post last week, Gore left public office in 2001 worth less than $2 million. Today his wealth is estimated to be around $100 million.
Leonnig reports that 14 green tech firms that Gore invested in received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in federal loans, grants and tax breaks. Suddenly, green tech looks less like a gleaming beacon of virtue and more like corporate welfare, further enriching already affluent investors.
The federal agencies invested in many winners, but they also invested in some spectacular losers, from Solyndra to the battery maker A123 Systems, which just filed for bankruptcy protection. Private investors can shake off bad investments. But when a political entity like the federal government makes a bad investment, the nasty publicity tarnishes the whole program.
The U.S. government wasn’t the only one investing in renewables. Governments around the world were also doing it, and the result has been gigantic oversupply, a green tech bubble. Keith Bradsher of The Times reported earlier this month that China’s biggest solar panel makers are suffering losses of up to $1 for every $3 in sales. Panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008. Manufacturers will need huge subsidies far into the future — as Bradsher writes, “a looming financial disaster.” The U.S. share of the global market, meanwhile, has fallen from 7 percent to 3 percent since 2008.
The biggest blow to green tech has come from the marketplace itself. Fossil fuel technology has advanced more quickly than renewables technology. People used to worry that the world would soon run out of oil, but few worry about that now. Shale gas, meanwhile, has become the current hot, revolutionary fuel of the future.
Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, Daniel Yergin projects that in 2030 the worldwide fuel mix will not be too different than what it is today. That is, there will be more solar and wind power generated, but these sources will still account for a small fraction of total supply. Fossil fuels will still be the default fuel for decades ahead.
The Financial Post in Canada recently surveyed the gloom across the clean energy sector. “Revenues from renewable and alternative energy fell a little more than 12%” in 2011, the paper reported. Research and development spending on renewables is set to decline next year, according to United Nations figures, while the oil and gas sector is investing a whopping $490 billion a year in exploration.
All in all, the once bright green future is looking grimmer. Green tech is decidedly less glamorous, tarnished by political and technological disappointments.
The shifting mood was certainly evident in the presidential debate this week. Global warming was off the radar. Meanwhile, President Obama and Mitt Romney competed to see who could most ardently support coal and new pipelines. Obama is running radio ads in Ohio touting his record as a coal champion.
This is not where we thought we’d be back in 2003.
Global warming is still real. Green technology is still important. Personally, I’d support a carbon tax to give it a boost. But he who lives by the subsidy dies by the subsidy. Government planners should not be betting on what technologies will develop fastest. They should certainly not be betting on individual companies.
This is a story of overreach, misjudgments and disappointment.

 

 

The sad history of climate policy, according to David Brooks

By Ezra Klein , Updated:

This is, according to David Brooks, the sad history of Washington’s efforts to address climate change.
1) “The period around 2003 was the golden spring of green technology. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduced a bipartisan bill to curb global warming.”
2) “Al Gore released his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” in 2006. The global warming issue became associated with the highly partisan former vice president. Gore mobilized liberals, but, once he became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive.” (Note: Some Republicans could, and did, stand with Gore.)
3) “Obama’s stimulus package set aside $90 billion for renewable energy loans and grants, but the number of actual jobs created has been small. Articles began to appear in the press of green technology grants that were costing $2 million per job created. The program began to look like a wasteful disappointment.”
4) “The federal agencies invested in many winners, but they also invested in some spectacular losers, from Solyndra to the battery maker A123 Systems, which just filed for bankruptcy protection. Private investors can shake off bad investments. But when a political entity like the federal government makes a bad investment, the nasty publicity tarnishes the whole program.”
5) “Fossil fuel technology has advanced more quickly than renewables technology. People used to worry that the world would soon run out of oil, but few worry about that now. Shale gas, meanwhile, has become the current hot, revolutionary fuel of the future.”
6) “The shifting mood was certainly evident in the presidential debate this week. Global warming was off the radar. Meanwhile, President Obama and Mitt Romney competed to see who could most ardently support coal and new pipelines.”
7) “This is not where we thought we’d be back in 2003. Global warming is still real. Green technology is still important. Personally, I’d support a carbon tax to give it a boost. But he who lives by the subsidy dies by the subsidy. Government planners should not be betting on what technologies will develop fastest. They should certainly not be betting on individual companies. This is a story of overreach, misjudgments and disappointment.”
So, to summarize: Addressing climate change by pricing carbon — an idea Brooks supported then and supports now — was a bipartisan project in 2003. It became a partisan project because Al Gore thought it was important enough to make a documentary about. Republicans began opposing efforts to price carbon, in part because they hate Al Gore. That left funding renewables research as the only avenue for those worried about climate change. Funding renewables research means funding some projects that won’t work out, and some that might make Al Gore rich. This led to bad publicity that tarnished the whole program.
The passivity of Brooks’s conclusion is astonishing. This isn’t a story of overreach, misjudgements, and disappointment. It’s a story of Republicans putting raw partisanship and a dislike for Al Gore in front of the planet’s best interests. It’s a story, though Brooks doesn’t mention this, of conservatives building an alternative reality in which the science is unsettled, and no one really knows whether the planet is warming and, even if it is, whether humans have anything to do with it. It’s a story of Democrats being forced into a second and third-best policies that Republicans then use to press their political advantage.
It’s a story, to put it simply, of Democrats doing everything they can to address a problem Brooks says is real in the way Brooks says is best, and Republicans doing everything they can to stop them. And it’s a story that ends with Democrats and Republicans receiving roughly equal blame from Brooks.
The existence of this op-ed is part of the story of why the Democrats failed. The story of what happened over the last 10 years is right there in Brooks’s column. But he doesn’t want to say who’s right and who’s wrong, which is the only tool pundits have to help those who are right and push those who are wrong. Instead, he wants to say everybody is wrong, and isn’t it just a shame.
For a clearer take on this issue, read Eugene Robinson’s

 

 

Why the chill on climate change?

By , Published: October 18

Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change.
President Obama understands and accepts the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is trapping heat in the atmosphere, with potentially catastrophic long-term effects. Mitt Romney’s view, as on many issues, is pure quicksilver — impossible to pin down — but when he was governor of Massachusetts, climate-change activists considered him enlightened and effective.
Yet neither has mentioned the subject in the debates. Instead, they have argued over who is more eager to extract ever-larger quantities of oil, natural gas and coal from beneath our purple mountains’ majesties and fruited plains.
“We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years,” Obama said in Tuesday’s debate. “Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.”
Romney scoffed that Obama “has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal,” and promised that he, if elected, would be all three. “I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses,” he said, adding later that this means “bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia, where the people want it.”
If this is a contest to see who can pretend to be more ignorant of the environmental locomotive that’s barreling down the tracks toward us, Romney wins narrowly.
Obama does acknowledge that his administration has invested in alternative energy technologies, such as wind and solar, that do not emit carbon dioxide and thus do not contribute to atmospheric warming. But he never really says why, except to say he will not “cede those jobs of the future” to nations such as China and Germany.
Romney, on the other hand, claims to pledge heart and soul to an idea that he, as a successful businessman, must know is ridiculous: “North America[n] energy independence.” The notion seems to be that all the oil and natural gas we need can be produced in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and that achieving this continental “independence” will magically cause energy prices to fall.
This is silly. At current production levels, relying solely on good old “North American” oil would leave us more than 30 percent short of what we now consume, and no amount of drilling and despoiling could close that gap. Moreover, the price of oil is a global price — a barrel costs the same whether it’s extracted in North Dakota or the North Sea.
Natural gas is harder to transport over long distances, which means the price is more local. But we’re already moving faster than prudence would advise — through the technology of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — to pump huge quantities of natural gas, and the price is already quite low.
As for coal, Romney was once more of an environmentalist than Obama; as the president noted Tuesday,Romney once stood in front of the Salem Harbor coal-fired plant in Massachusetts and said, “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant — that plant kills people.” Now, however, Romney says he is ardently pro-coal and claims that Obama isn’t.
But Obama has long been a champion of so-called “clean coal” technology, which many environmentalists believe is an oxymoron. From the point of view of limiting carbon emissions, burning more coal is the worst thing you could do.
Why does it matter that nobody is talking about climate change? Because if you accept that climate scientists are right about the warming of the atmosphere — as Obama does, and Romney basically seems to as well — then you understand that some big decisions will have to be made. You also understand that while there are some measures the United States could take unilaterally, carbon dioxide can never be controlled without the cooperation of other big emitters such as China, India and Brazil. You understand that this is an issue with complicated implications for global prosperity and security.
A presidential campaign offers an opportunity to educate and engage the American people in the decisions that climate change will force us to make. Unfortunately, Obama and Romney have chosen to see this more as an opportunity to pretend that the light at the end of the tunnel is not an approaching train.

51 comments:

Craig Mayle said...

This article produces a very valid point. However, it's necessary to realize that there are certain issues that are politically taboo. Another problem that got no mention by either candidate this election cycle is that of poverty. All the talk was about middle class, since that's a much easier "issue" to deal with. I am not arguing that the status quo of climate change as a taboo topic should be maintained, but am trying to emphasize that it's hard to expect this to be mentioned when it is in fact taboo. The mention of a climate change crisis carries the same sort of sensitivity as calling systematic massacres "genocide." Once you talk about a situation in that way, it becomes glaringly obvious that it is necessary to do something in response to it. And the response that is required to the climate change crisis is not one that would be politically rosy. The fact that Obama won a second term allows some hope on this, though, since he is a climate change "believer," and will no longer face the pressure the knowledge that he will have to run for reelection. The most important thing that needs to happen, though, is the shift in public opinion in regard to the issue. If the public was unitedly screaming for a response to the issue, politicians would no longer have to disguise their response to it as "jobs for the future."

Craig Mayle said...

The prior comment I made was in regard to "Why the Chill on Climate Change?" I am reminded of how far green energy has fallen every time I look at my personal investment portfolio. It's painful. Things really did start their downward spiral when Solyndra failed, which validates Brooks' point that subsidies are an unsuccessful approach- at least in our current capitalist system. However, the argument about the polarization of the issue being traced back to Gore is rather senseless, as pointed out by Klein. We obviously need unity on this issue. This would create the situation that I mentioned in my previous comment of politicians no longer feeling like they have to dance around the issue of climate change.

Nick Sollogub said...

I understand that this article is supposed to be based around the presidential candidates and their views and action on global warming, fossil fuels, and green energy. I can't help but look at it and laugh. Everyone gets so wrapped up in politics. They all lie nonstop. We all know this, we accept this, and we allow them to do it. When they finally do get caught in their lies we get mad? This is like going to a movie and being upset that it is unrealistic for spiderman to swing between huge buildings on a web. Its all a show and you people feed into it. I don't care what any politician says because I dont trust not a one of them. What I think that we need in this country is a full out revolution on many fronts. We need a forceful takeover of our government. Just like our forefathers said we should do every 20 years in order to keep the government working for the people as opposed to the other way around. We need to overthrow the entire fossil fuel industry and shut it down, allowing room for green energy to rise. This revolution will cost lives. This is a good thing though because we are over populated and over consuming. So there is another area that is covered by this plan. America has grown too big for its britches. If we adjust the way people live and consume and think then we may have a planet to live on. But I dont think that this way of life that we are forced to adhere to because of technology is one that I find appealing. I say let America fall. Let Americans fall. Before you question my loyalty to this country I should tell you I am a combat veteran who served in Iraq. With that out of the way, I think American's are spoiled, obnoxious, and overbearing people who want to police the globe yet they cant even police themselves. They constantly make more laws, taking away more freedoms everyday, then blind you with flags or words like "freedom, or democracy". I dont buy it or believe in it. I say revolt!

Olivia Hu said...

I'm glad that Ezra Klein sought to challenge David Brooks's analysis of Washington's attempts to face climate change. Brooks's viewpoint is rather defeatist. As Klein puts it, "He [Brooks] wants to say everybody is wrong, and isn't it a shame." Surely this is not the answer, or at the least, no solution will come of it.

I understand why addressing climate change is risky territory when it comes to election season. Part of trying to win votes from the undecided is attempting not to appeal too strongly to either side. The result is seemingly wishy-washy politicians who are too busy walking on eggshells to be definitive. Whether or not we environmental students want to admit, we live in a culture where the term "tree hugger" has negative connotations. Instead of being considered reasonable people who believe foresight and responsibility to future generations is a priority, those who discriminate against environmentalists paint them as overly sensitive, emotional, and irrational. Politicians try to avoid this stereotype, no matter where their beliefs in anthropocentric climate change lie. Ultimately, politicians and strategists will do or say whatever they believe can still win them the vote while their statements are still in a ballpark of what they belief. Explicitly stating an opinion could mean the end of a career. In terms of climate change, it is still unfortunately too risky to address it directly. But I am hopeful that the present and future are becoming increasingly more liberal, and U.S. citizens can look back on our times and laugh about how people ever denied its validity.

Donte Kirby said...

Politicians tackle the issues their constituents are most vocal about. The american population at large worries about jobs, which is effect by the economy so they worry about the economy and are the most vocal on these issues. I don't blame the politicians because they are slaves to the vote. What needs to change isn't the politicians but the constituents that vote for them. If there was a paradigm shift in the country that valued the sustainability of the planet and it's resource over economic growth,then candidates would get elected that valued sustainability. Then presidential debates would discuss topics like global warming and environmental stability because it would be a deciding factor in who the American population works for.

Celine Hamel said...

Politicians will always spend more time and effort on the economy than global warming, especially during an election. This is easy to see especially in this past presidential election. Right now the economy is doing badly. The United States only answer to this is to make more money by mining for more coal and drilling for more oil.Politicians aren't looking at the long term side effects. They are only interested in their term life and how much money they can make the United States in that amount of time. Obviously this is extremely frustrating for Environmental science students and it is what seems like a never ending battle. I think that it is going to take a long time until politicians are serious about implementing green energy. Honestly until then we have to find the politicians that are smart enough now to support green energy and vote for them. Staying informed in times like these is very important, we have to learn that most politicians are just telling us what we want to hear and take what they say with a grain of salt.

Annie Bingaman said...

I found Eugene Robinson's article to be by far the most captivating of the three. Though David Brooks makes some valid points, he also makes far too many generalizations. For example, he is quick to state that all Republicans oppose climate change theory, a flaw pointed out by Ezra Klein. The big issue here is that climate change is not being addressed by politicians and policy makers. In fact, it is treated as an untouchable issue in the playing field of American politics. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this issue is so colossal that politicians are unsure of how exactly to address it. Perhaps it is similarly due to the fact that if we were to shift to a more environmentally sustainable paradigm, many large corporations and current producers would suffer the effects which would cause the economy to suffer. Regardless, the fact that the current government spends so much energy on maintaining a growing economy and absolutely no energy spent on addressing climate change exhibits exactly what is wrong with American politics and our current paradigm.

Jeffrey Prizzia said...

This article really does prove that all our presidents that we have had in the past up to the current have preached about environmental changes but nothing is done. They must practice what they preach. Obama is much more environmentally friendly but not nearly as environmentally driven as he should be. We have to stop focusing on this oil and gas masquerade and start focusing on turning natural resources into other sources that can replace natural gas and oil. If we can take our waste and compost it into methane, we would be able to use that to replace oil and gas. There are a lot of ways that we need to start looking into our environment not only on the surface but thinking deep very deep. If we don't begin to think deep then we are going to be in a deep hole that we will not be able to get out of. Our government gets very caught up on stupid details and does not get down to the point. People may say that going sustainable is putting more jobs to risk but if we just even out jobs a long with going green then everyone will be happy and our world will be much more happy. With the world happy, it will be able to sustain our lives much better.

Jessica Y. Sanchez said...

All 3 articles help reinforce my thoughts about how much real issues are being ignored. Our environmental issues are being used to help win elections and after he or she wins, little is being done to help save the environment. People around the world need to take these issues seriously and not look to politicians to give them unbiased information. We need a paradigm shift and quickly! The world’s way of thinking and taking care of the Earth is just not right and we can see that with the dramatic weather changes we are having along with other events.

Maria Costa said...

I found these articles incredibly interesting, especially because they do not necessarily argue that climate change is being ignored - it has simply become a political tool which liberals and conservatives have each used to further their own agendas. The partisanship which the issue of global warming has caused to spring up is astonishing. Even though I know these articles are pretty biased, they make a great case that it is this partisanship that has forced the government to use lesser measures in dealing with an issue that many in high positions of authority refuse to acknowledge exists.

I know we have said this time and again but it seems that climate change becomes important to discuss only when it will give one political party an advantage over the other, and when the creation of climate change policy will have some direct effect on another issue, such as job creation. This is why, as Robinson writes, the discussion was on the completely ridiculous concept of North American energy independence. This is what the general public wants to hear, and what they somehow think will have some effect on the environment, especially if the word "clean" is used in front of any of technologies a politician proposes to make this independence a reality (as in the case of "clean" coal, which is an oxymoron).

I think that Robinson puts it best at the end of his article (I clearly liked his the best, as it provided the most explanation along with the rhetoric). If the United States does not start talking about this issue, then no other "big emitters" will even consider joining the discussion on carbon dioxide emissions. He writes that "there are some measures the United States could take unilaterally," but the issue of climate change is without borders. It comes with "complicated implications" for the future of "global prosperity and security."

The United States has to put aside the partisanship that is blocking climate change discussion currently, and when they finally address it, other countries will be (hopefully) influenced to join the discussion. We'll see how this works out though...

Jaclyn Barbato said...


ARTICLE ONE:
It is true that in poor economic times, people tend to focus more on their economic problems than global environmental problems. That being said, many people make their living doing jobs associated with the drilling, refining, etc. of oil and other fossil fuels. New jobs in renewable energy technologies are ideal and imperative for our future, however as mentioned in this article, they are also costly to develop, and once introduced and popularized there is a great chance they will take jobs away from ‘fossil fuel industries’. Many people are aware that oil is a nonrenewable resource with exists in only a certain amount, and therefore understand the NEED for such new technologies (& the job market associated). Upwards of 50 years ago, I’m sure people believed by 2010 we’d be driving levitating cars – as we’ve gone over many times in this class, we tend to have an over-reliance on technology. Instead of investing in those technologies that will give the investor the biggest bang for their buck- investors need to invest in those technologies which will serve to replace our most important and relied upon nonrenewable resources, as by means of necessity they will turn a profit. With the government as the main investor in ‘green technology’ it’s no wonder it has taken so long to ‘take off’. Once green technologies are given the price drop needed to become obtainable by individuals, they will take off by individual investors. This may be a slow (ever-long) process but it is what’s necessary to make such technologies ordinary ‘house-hold items’. It is possible once the most basic technologies begin to take-off, profits can be used by green-technology companies to research into more complex sustainable technologies and develop the associated careers.

ARTICLE TWO:
I can agree with Brooke’s idea that ‘everyone is wrong’. I believe it is extreme to say that Democrats are willing to do whatever they can to address a problem where as Republicans are willing to do whatever they can to stop them. I believe both are most likely acting for their own interests (it’s no secret many corporate leaders have relationships with political leaders), rather than solely acting against the interests of the opposing party. That being said, how easy is it to point the finger and blame someone else! (At least in our country) Individuals have the right to voice their opinion about which legislation should and should not be supported. If more people openly supported and protested for environmental legislation, it would be easier to obtain.

ARTICLE THREE:
This reinforces the idea I mentioned in my response to the first article: in poor economic times people disregard our environmental problems. Running for the presidency, the ultimate ‘popularity contest’, I believe the candidates were well aware of this. The media will not favor a candidate speaking out for NEW green technologies over the one preaching for more drilling – for the simple reason that those new technologies will cost more money, whereas developing the practices used today should decrease the prices.

Amanda Merlo said...

Some argue that climate change is being ignored, by our politicians, and it seems like it is and by others it is just being put on the back burner and the economy is usually the first and foremost important issue to politicians of our time. It makes me frustrated to see certain political leaders like Obama, who promised five million green tech jobs(again focusing on jobs and the economy rather than the environmental issue) and did not even do close to that. I guess its now a common thing to use environmental issues to win an election. Even politicians that seem to have no true background or care about the environment use it as a new tool to gain profit by doing things such as making documentaries for example the quote from Brooks article “Leonnig reports that 14 green tech firms that Gore invested in received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in federal loans, grants and tax breaks. Suddenly, green tech looks less like a gleaming beacon of virtue and more like corporate welfare, further enriching already affluent investors”. It just seems like a vicious cycle that has not made much progress. The positive is that we recognize this issue and we are not rash enough to let these political leaders fool us. I think that Brooks article was the best out of the three in my opinion.

Davin Ajodhasingh said...

My understanding of this article is that the efforts to develop and make further advancements in green technology has been much more about hope and promise for politicians rather than the optimistic environmental turning point it was perceived to be ten years ago. People had faith in Al gore since he was one of the first politicians to recognize the need to address global warming through efforts that could benefit us socially and economically. Obama recognized the importance of green technology in 2008, leaving hope that change would come. Another election has come and gone and nothing has changed. Investing in renewables sounded like a great idea but with low returns on investment, the government and venture capitalist aren’t motivated to continue. Politics and greed has almost killed the green revolution.
As for the future, the chances of a revival of green technology look dim. Getting the economy back on its feet is all that are on people’s minds and creating new environmental jobs is costly and will have little effect on the rest of the economy. Instead, new technology for oil and gas extraction is being developed and the public is now learning that oil and gas isn’t going to run out as soon as we think. It is only going to become more costly since we have extracted most of our fossil fuels from easy-to-reach places. Even with rapid advancement and increased use of alternative fuels, it will still account for significantly less than the amount of energy we get from fossil fuels. Environmental and economic factors clash too often and the economy always seem to win.

Abby Lee said...

As I see it, all of these articles seem to be dancing around the ROOT of all of these issues without identifying it. The issue is the economic system and the policies that are controlling and shaping it. Brooks attacks the Democrats claiming they have taken the issue as their own, thus disillusioning the Republicans from backing any action, and failed at producing effective solutions. Klein simply labels the Republicans as the enemy, and Robinson blames the presidential candidates in the recent elections. All of these are symptomatic of the reality: politicians have been ineffective at working around the flawed system in which they need to function.
Out of the three articles, Brooks seems to get this point the best. He is right in his claims that the Democrats have not made climate change an attractive issue for Republicans to get behind. The point that he hints at, which seems to allude Klein, is that Democrats must come up with more convincing arguments for why Republicans should back the environmental agenda. Politics does not run on a system of moral incentive, but on a system of competition for political funding and votes, and ultimately power. If the Democrats could achieve this, they could take measures that are not “second and third best policies” as Klein calls them.
I do agree with the point that Robinson brings up about other major carbon contributing countries. On first thought, something like a carbon tax seems like the best solution if it would ever be taken into consideration by the government. On the other hand this is a domestic policy which would not affect the output of carbon from other countries unless good imported had a similar tax. In reality this will not happen, and therefore the solution must be action that somehow makes green tech and energy more attractive economically.

Laura Sorrentino said...

The last sentence of the entire thread of articles sums up our government all together. They claim to care, yet put the issue on hold and pretend it is not accelerating towards us more and more as time progresses. I can not stress it enough that money is the motive and no one in power will ever invest the extreme amount of money into saving our planet because we have cheaper alternatives at the present time. Although, what many of our politicians today choose to ignore is that we will eventually run out of these sources and at that point every bit of our planet will be dug up, exploited and polluted to the point where it will be completely destroyed. By the time this happens, we will also have to turn to alternatives and we will be forced to invest that money into green energy anyway. So, why wait until our water sources turn black and our mountains are mined to nothing? The sooner we invest in these renewable energies, the better off we will be because eventually clean energy would pay itself off. But, by this point all these politicians will be deceased and will not have to carry the burden of the environmental crisis we are headed into. Instead, the future will suffer greatly and will only wish that our governmental systems were smart enough to save our planet before saving money because our the planet is the only one we've got. Obama nor Romney are any different. They may claim to care but no one in power ever does and that will never change, not at least until we're forced to change in order to save ourselves from ourselves.

Brionne said...

As Mr. Brooks mentioned in his article, the American political landscape is extremely polarized – you are either pro-left or pro-right. As a liberal minded individual, I am inclined to see global warming a reality, but I also recognize anthropogenic contributions as well, referred to as climate change. It is a sad reality that no only have we accepted climate change; we have accepted the thought process that we cannot do anything about it. Simply put: why purchase a cotton reusable bag to replace a plastic bag when the pollution from the production of the cotton and manufacturing of the bag is equivalent to more than one plastic bag?

I believe this type of negative thinking is certainly setting us back. In Mr. Brooks’ article he mentions that green technology companies are either hits or misses. Some companies perform exceptionally well in terms of profitability, but others are marked failures. He also mentions that fossil fuel technology has advanced faster than green tech. Is this because there is limited research and development going on in green tech, or are major oil and gas companies pushing out innovative green tech companies through the use of ridiculous campaigns like clean coal and fracking doesn’t harm drinking water.

As Robinson mentioned in their article, the price of oil of a barrel of oil is universal, and would do little to lower the price of gasoline. He is right, but there is another side to this equation and that is oil and gas subsidies. Our prices of oil are relatively low compared to other industrialized countries, due to heavy subsidies given to fossil fuel companies. Could it be that green tech cannot keep up with fossil fuel tech because they simply do not have the funding or power to do so?

Furthermore, the entire concept of American independence on fossil fuel is not a fantasy; it is a reality that has been buried by negativity and no drive to reduce our dependence. We would much rather waste away at the gas pump and drive 5mph in bottleneck traffic than sit next to a stranger on a crowded bus powered by electricity.

As for the political divide in this country, it is simply a matter of acceptance and wanting to be included in a political party. For example, for much of his early political career as Gov., Mitt Romney was quite open-minded, as illustrated in the coal factory example. However, in order to secure the Republican party’s nominated for President, he needed to win our staunch republicans, and therefore, abandon his own personal views in favor of his party’s. In the end, Americans cannot accept the same view from two different political parties; we must be divided; it’s pathetic.

For such a serious issue such as climate change to not even be discussed, or even acknowledged by a major political party is an absolute embarrassment in our country. Whether we admit it or not, the Earth’s climate is changing, the temperatures are warming, the sea is rising, and we will face unprecedented amounts of environmental problems in the future. We are not only destroying the Earth, we are destroying our very own habit – food, water, air, life.

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