Sunday, June 03, 2007

Opinion: Should public policy decisions be made to address global warming?

As the World Warms, the White House Aspires
By Dana MilbankFriday, June 1, 2007 (from WashingtonPost.com)

Yesterday, as the temperature pushed toward 90 degrees in the capital, global warming caused a meltdown in the Bush administration's message machine.

Just as President Bush was about to wheel out his "new international climate change framework," the NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, declared that there is no need to take action against global warming.

"Whether that is a long-term concern or not, I can't say," he said in an interview with National Public Radio, adding: "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with." In fact, Griffin found it "rather arrogant" to suggest that global warming is a bad thing.

A couple of hours after the broadcast, Griffin's boss took the stage at the Ronald Reagan Building to endorse just such arrogance -- an initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. "The United States takes this issue seriously," Bush said.

This mixed message led to a rather cool reception for Jim Connaughton, the president's adviser on the environment, as he briefed reporters on the plan at noon.

"Will the new framework consist of binding commitments or voluntary commitments?" asked CBS News's Jim Axelrod.

"In this instance, you have a long-term, aspirational goal," Connaughton answered.

Aspirational goal? Like having the body you want without diet or exercise? Or getting rich without working?

"I'm confused," Axelrod said. "Does that mean there will be targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and that everybody will be making binding commitments?"

"The commitment at the international level will be to a long-term, aspirational goal," the Bush aide repeated.

Axelrod had his answer. "Voluntary," he concluded.

"Well," said Connaughton, "I want to be careful about the word 'voluntary.' "

30 comments:

BrandonK said...

Absolutely. The United States is the one of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters, and we need to do something about it. The United States accounts for over 25% of the worlds's greenhouse gas emissions, and is second only to China. We need to immediately find a way to reduce the United States emissions of these gases. The federal govenment needs to set a line, not just for individuals, but for industries as well. Auto companies need to begin to create more fuel efficient and cleaner running automobiles. Energy companies should be mandated into looking into cleaner, renewable sources of power. Corporations will not do this on their own, unless the federal government requires them to. We also need something strong because all past attempts to do such, ended in failure. Bottom line, we need to set the standards and actively pursue a way or many ways to reduce our emissions both in the United States and across the globe.

justinbel said...

I agree, the US government should be doing more to prevent global warming because it is a main contributor. The US should also establish itself as a frontrunner for a better and cleaner Earth and try to set examples for the rest of the world to follow.

Johnny B said...

My opinion would be yes. I feel that The United States needs to take a strong stand on global warming. In addition to being a large contributor to global warming, the U.S. also needs to make an example for other countries around the world. If the United States doesn't take a stand, I don't see other countries taking one either. Overall, global warming is a global issue. Whether or not America wants to help, it's our problem too.

KimK said...

THANK YOU for the global warming question! It really did make my day :)! Public policy decisions should be made to address global warming...but not to the extreme. Only minor changes should be experimented with until we know more about global warming. Global warming is such a controversial issue, even among scientists. However, the changes that we would make to alleviate global warming would also help the environment in other ways, so even if global warming is found later to be inconsequential, our efforts would not be futile. But why change our lifestyles completely until we know more about it? Global warming has been a process initiated long before even the United States was born...it was certainly not the automobiles that contributed in the past...perhaps the whole process is a lot more natural than we think. In fact, throughout history the average temperature has been changing- often rising, sometimes falling-the dinosaurs really should have had a conference to discuss this problem. What were they THINKING!...jk I really am not meaning to make fun of global warming, just how little we truly know about it. So, to answer the question: yes, we should do something, but we should not make any decisions that are too life-changing.

Megan B said...

To make this debate more interesting, I’ll say no there should not any public policy decision made to address the global warming issue, just because I feel the question is a little more than slightly loaded to have us all answer in one specific way. I do not feel public policy on the global warming issue should be implemented, because since there are millions of people who strongly believe that the actions of humans are the primary cause of global warming; those people will take their own actions to work to correct the problems that they see in the world. Forcing people to comply with strict standards would cause possible resentments, but with the rising price of the energy and fuel sources that are a primary cause of greenhouse gasses people everywhere will be encouraged, if not by their sense of duty and responsibility, but by their pocketbook to use these polluting items significantly less. Yes, there are reasons why I said no, not just that I feel disagreeable today.

tonileep said...

I agree with Kim on this question. I do believe we need to concentrate more on global warming to gain more knowledge about it and once we do that, then we can really start to focus and make changes. However, the Earth has been changing since the United States was born, like Kim stated, so it is more of a natural process and there is proof in history. Humans are part of the problem but not all of it. We need to know more about global warming and then decide what steps should be taken.

CoreyA said...

No. Not unless the general populous demands it. Global warming is still a mystery to scientists. They do not know nearly enough to force us to do things we do not want to do. People seem to be under the impression that cars are the biggest cause of damage to the environment. People hear the "phrase global" warming and quite often the general public thinks about cars. Brandon K even went as far as making a comment towards auto-companies, and only auto-companies, despite the fact that they were not even mentioned in the article. Cars are not the biggest threat to global warming in the world. Sure they are a big one, but a study by the United Nations, released last November, found that raising cattle and the manure they produce actually causes more greenhouse gases then all the cars in the world. Acording to the study, raising cattle only generates 9% of the CO2 that are produced by human activites, but it "generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2"(UN.org). Now, are you going to tell me that we are going to prevent global warming by forcing people to become vegetarians? Stop all animal use totally and become vegans? There is no plausible way to make a public policy about addressing global warming that would actually address all the right problems because we do not even relize what all the problems are. Many people believe that global warming's seriousness is relatively new, and many believe it has been here forever. One thing that scientists do agree on is that we are long over-due for an ice age. An ice age. Despite all our attempts to get the planet to stop heating up, we are due for an ice age. But theres a raging debate that our global warming may be preventing it. Would that not be funny if are global warming is saving us from one of threats to mankind to date? But the other side of the arguement is that global warming might some how make the ice age all that much worse when it finally comes. How do you make a public policy when you cannot decide if global warming is saving us or killing us?

A big problem that I have with the idea of forcing a public policy on us is that it is not necessary. Brandon K argued that car companies would not find clean sources of energy and energy efficient cars unless they were forced to. Why would they not want to?! One of the biggest factors in buying a car is how many miles it gets to the gallon. Sure oil-companies would take a hit from fuel efficient cars, but car companies would make tons of money. Car companies are racing to make hybrid cars.

People can make their own decisions about being eco-friendly. This is America. What the people want, the people get. Let your canidates know what you want if you want something done. Politicians love fliping to what ever is the flavor of the month. If everyone wanted a change like this, then the politcians will do it to stay in office.

Just remember, you want to stop global warming and hug some trees, Ralph Nader is your man. Green Party '08!

RyanO said...

Small steps should definitely be taken to prevent global warming. Global warming is not totally understood and the source of it is not only us, but I still believe we should set an example for the rest of the world to follow such as: trying to discover more about it and taking proactive steps against it. Auto makers should be more strictly restricted on the mileage of the cars they sell, which will raise prices but sacrifices will have to be made. The rising prices of oil and other energy sources have recently forced many companies to raise gas mileage, and I believe it should begin to implemented into law.

Katiekso said...

I feel that public policy decisions have to be made to address global warming. It would not only be a huge step toward helping the environment, but it would also be a great way to bring about a more Earth healthy lifestyle in the public. If public policy decisions were made to address global warming people would have to realize what a major problem global warming is, and hopefully, they would be more conscientious of how valuable the earth really is.

JamieW said...

As soon as America becomes more educated on the topic is when I believe we can start implementing such decisions. As of right now, not many seem to be extremely concerned with the issue at hand. I also believe the severity of the issue depends on who you talk to. An average guy on the street probably doesn't think anything of it. He's going to drive all over town if he needs or wants to. (Not saying that cars are necessarily the main cause of the problem but are a contributor) Al Gore on the other hand almost scares the population into thinking global warming will in the next year or two be the cause of the end of the world. Scientists themselves are in controversy right now. I think it'd be best to see what exactly we're dealing with before we spend millions of dollars on unnecessary precautions.

rebeccas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rebeccas said...

Yes.

Not that much solid information is known about global warming, unless I've just managed to let it fly past me. Everything I seem to come across is opinion or iffy statistics. As far as we know, we could've already done too much damage to the Earth and despite any of our efforts it will continue to gradually warm.

Big companies (gas, oil, vehicles, etc.) would lose money because of regulations; So, those big companies will be kicking and screaming against the existence of global warming ‘till the sun melts the skin right off them. There will always be opposition. But regardless if we’re going to cook ourselves, we need to be kind to the environment and not be wasteful. We don’t need huge houses, huge cars, and manicured toxic-green pesticide-ridden lawns to live comfortably.

As far as setting in regulations goes, I say go for it. (Depends on the regulations of course, though, could be to lenient/strict) Make the companies care about what they’re pouring into our air and soil. Make them have a little less profit. Let them whine, too. We could stand to make better cars, drive less, stop migrating to the suburbs and building ugly wasteful houses, and to find more fuel-efficient ways of transporting people and goods.

But, hey, I know something we can all do that’ll help the environment and gas prices whether or not you “believe” in global warming – run a few Hummers off the road. I’m kidding…okay, maybe not. Violence is not the answer, but maybe a little nudge off the road? Kidding. Sort of… I hate Hummers. I think I rambled...but hey I got in one of my "comment every two week regulation-thingy-thangs" YAY!.

MorganJ said...

Yes.

Global warming is becoming more problematic each year. We must start addressing this problem as a nation, in order to make any notable change in the amount of greenhouse gases we are putting into the atmosphere.

In 1998 and 2005 the global average temperatures were at their highest. The temperature increase is mostly due to human activity (burning fossil fuels, factories and power plants, transportation). Although we are a major part of the problem, the good thing is we have the ability to address it.

I believe that the U.S government needs to pass a bill that will help to reduce our nation's greenhouse gas production. Most citizens are not aware of how much we are hurting our ONLY atmosphere. If the U.S. government makes this issue more publicized, individual households and big corporations will be aware of the issue.

More states need to follow California's lead by instilling a bill that addresses greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger singed a bill last year that "will reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. That's a 25 percent reduction. And by 2050, we (the state of Cal.) will reduce emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels." If more states follow this lead, we can start the preservation of our only home.

As I was reading up on this topic I came across a website that was very helpful. It is created and maintained by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. Below is a url of a section of their website. For those of you who are interested in learning easy things you and your family can do to reduce your household emission production take a look!

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/index.html

Heather S said...

Well, here's my take on Global Warming...there are some hot days, and there are some cold days, the Earth cools and gets hotter year by year, and it normally changes all the time! Now, is the Earth overall getting hotter? Well, they've proven that, and are humans making it just heat up so much? Well there are things I'm sure we could change, but I really don't think the Earth is being THAT effected. I know this issue got so much attention from An Inconvienient Truth, but it was a documentary movie, created by someone so well known, so at first when all the rave was going around, I just thought of it as another media attention getter and because of that, everyone was getting so concerned with Global Warming. Personally, I think there are more things we can do that can change the way we live now, not just how it will be sometime in the far away future. Yes, it would be great to start conserving energy and use hybrid cars, but I think politicians are spending too much time on the subject. But, I guess this is also somewhat being used as a diversion from the war and people lately have been paying a lot of attention to Global Warming than the war in Iraq.
There is so much we can do to slow down Global Warming, but we shouldn't spend all of our time, money, and worry on it!!

Jbyko10 said...

Yes, The United States of America needs to take steps towards prevention of Global Warming. The United States emitts more and more greenhouse gases everyday. From Cars, power plants, and every day human activity. I know that many car companies are taking steps toward Hybrid cars. American companies who are emitting gases need to make plans for the future. Maybe America could set an example for the rest of the world. I believe that Global Warming is among us. The earth is getting warmer and warmer each year and Water levels are rising. I do not know when we will see drastic changes, or how. But im sure that we'll see them. America needs to address this long-term problem to the world. The people on this planet need to take action now, so that our children do not have to live the prices of Global warming. If we wait longer and longer, the problem WILL get bigger, and they will have to suffer from that.

mente said...

To answer the question, at this point in time, I don't think that public policy desicions should be made to address global warming. I don't think that there is anywhere near enough information to create policies that would cost unforeseeable amounts of money; this cannot/should not be done at this time due to our intense debt that will only continue to grow because of things that.. well.. I don't wish to get into right now.

I realize that the world has a continually rising temperature, but the Earth could still be warming up from the last Ice Age. Scientists do not know whether the human influence in the world has contributed to global warming or whether it is simply a natural progression.

I also realize that this rise of temperature is causing the Ice Caps to melt and the water levels everywhere to rise. Which means that over the next centuries coastal cities will be unworthy of inhabitants and other water level rising consequences that escape my thoughts as I type.

So, as I feel that I rambled sufficiently, I will restate my first thought. I do not feel that there is enough information for public policy decisions to address global warming, at least not until scientists get a better idea as to the causes of it.

ericag said...

Yes. It should be addressed, because even if we dont know that it is caused by people we wont know for sure until it's too late. If we can possibly do something to slow the process down then we need to take that action. I'm not sure that people in this country are too worried about global warming becuase of the war, but it is a problem. Until we start seeing drastic effect on our country, I don't think it will be a big enough problem for people to take action.

shannond said...

Let's think about this question critically. Should public policy decisions be made to address global warming, or should the world's strongest federal government allow its citizens to continue destroying our resources for the future? The answer is obvious. The government clearly needs to set regulations as to how much energy is consumed by the United States per year. Though some people do their part, there are others who waste more than their fair share. Set regulations need to be enforced to ensure that households and businesses conserve energy. (Is it really necessary for the hallway lights at Muskego High School to be burning in the summer?) More money needs to be set aside for experimenting with alternative, cleaner fuel sources. As coreya debates, global warming is still a mystery to scientists, but would it really hurt to turn off the water when you're brushing your teeth? Overall, it may be controversial for the federal government to set regulations but in the long run, these regulations will not hinder the future of our world.

korad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
korad said...

Yes.

As a world leader the Unted States needs to take a stand to help reduce global warming. We play a huge part in creating greenhouse gases so we are mostly responsible for eliminating them. People don't want to make changes because global warming is still somewhat of a mystery, but wouldn't it be better to safe than sorry? The problem wont go away unless we do something about it. The government needs to set a standard because the public wont do it on their own. And as i said before, America is a world leader, which, besides the fact that we create most of the greenhouse gases, makes us even more responsible for reducing the problem.

Jake_H said...

Yes, the there should be public policy addressing global warming. The US is the leading contributer to greenhouse gases. We should also be a leading contributer to solving the problem. Policy needs to be made to reduce these gasses. Although we may not see the long term effects of global warming in our life time, our children will.

Stevel said...

I personally don't belive fully in the idea of global warming. I think that all of the gas emissions that the human population does give off probably does effect the atmosphere in some way, shape, or form. I do not belive that it effects the earths weather patterns though. Some sort of policy should be implamented to control emissions, but not specifically for "global warming".

Erica C said...

Yes. A vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real. A very small percentage will deny its existence. Unless something is done, diseases known mainly to more tropical areas are likely to spread through the rest of the world, flooding will pose a constant and serious threat to coastal regions, and horrific weather events such as hurricane Katrina will be frequent. Unfortunately, the U.S. is a huge contributer of greenhouse emissions. As a world power, its our responsibility to reduce our greenhouse emissions dramatically. There should definitely be public policy decisions made to address global warming.

jzurko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jzurko said...

I believe that yes, the United States should be doing more to prevent global warming. The United States is number one in greenhouse gas emission. That is, of course, partially due to the fact that it is one of the top economies of the world. With 5% of the world's population, the US produces 25% of global wealth. The US should set an example for the rest of the world by adressing global warming. This could be implemented through stricter standards on automobile emissions, on factory emissions and through more funding for research into renewable energy sources.
Even a temperature rise of 3-8 degress could warm oceans and the glaciers and ice caps would melt, sea levels would rise and flood coastal areas. All in all, global warming is a serious issue that the US government and industries would be foolish to ignore.

Alex said...

I belive that the government should regulate companys that are producing large ammount of Ozone depeting gasses into the air. I also however believe that the government should not make policy decesions on the average citisen of the country. If the governement decides action is needed, education is a better solution than public policy.

amandak said...

Yes, public policy should be made to address global warming. We have spent hundreds of years thinking about the now without any regard to the future, and it's backfired before. Now we have a chance to stop a problem before it gets too bad, rather than waiting until it's too bad to fix. Small changes made in every household and in every company multiply to make a big chance in the health of the environment and the future. Also, I think if the United States stepped up and took preventative measures, other countries would follow our lead.

MorganJ said...

I have been hearing about global warming in these past few weeks more than ever! We talk about it in my entrepreneurial class, I read about it in the newspaper, and just yesterday I heard the president's plan for it on the radio.

In my entrepreneurial class we discuss how the "green market" is the biggest up-and-coming market there is. People are spending extra money for goods and services that are environmentally beneficial. Take for example the organic food market; it has expanded a great deal in the past 5 years. I can attest to that. I am conscience about what I buy at the grocery store, and with that said, my first stop is always the organic foods.

I believe it was two weeks ago that the front page of the Sunday Journal Sentinel had an article about a community working together to reduce its impact on green house gases. The community of Fort Atkinson has started the "Fort Atkinson Diet," the slogan they use for their attempt to help with the reduction of green house gases. Everyone in the community is involved with this project: businesses, schools, private homes, and churches.

Finally, yesterday, while I was on a walk, I heard talk about the president's plan for "climate change," given by Condoleezza Rice. I don't know much about it, but from what I heard, it is a plan addressed to the leading economies around the world. The president is proposing that all the leading economies, the United States included, create their own plan to reduce the world's production of green house gases AND follow it.

I just found it interesting that all of these events have occurred in the past few weeks. I predict that we will soon be living very different, healthier, environmentally conscience lives.

Alex the Great said...

i believe that we should start making small steps toward addressing global warming, but i also think that we need to get some more information about the issues. ive heard lots of environmentalists rant on about how were all going to die if we dont act soon on global warming. i would like to see some unbiassed information before changing how we run our country.

Keely Smith said...

Yes, I think that public policy decisions should be made to address global warming. The United States gives off a large amount of the world's greenhouse emissions. We should try to find a way to reduce these emissions in the United States. The government should set rules up for individuals, companies, states, and industries, etc. The United States should set a good example for the other countries as to how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.