economics on a dying planet

In Joshua Howe’s book Behind the Curve, he speaks to why we are behind in the Keeling Curve both in political action and in the actual science of CO2. Back in 1958 scientist Charles Keeling investigated CO2 in our atmosphere leading to the Keeling curve. As stated by Howe, “The Keeling Curve represents the measured concentration of Carbo dioxide in the atmosphere.” (Howe 3) The issue is the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere is steadily increasing. Keeling found the issues of CO2 growth in the atmosphere to not be a new occurrence. The CO2 has been steadily increasing for some time now. Howe then goes into the politicization of climate change. Back in the 1960s, scientists were put in a position where they needed to advocate for climate change. Still, because the field of science is typically focused on remaining neutral, their advocacy isn’t as strong as it should necessarily be. Climate change politics comes into the political field right after the Cold War. This emergence of climate change politics during the Cold War would have ramifications for what can be accomplished by advocates for policies against climate change.
The Kyoto Protocol was the first policy of the UNFCCC. The problem had arisen surrounding developing nations and their responsibility toward climate change. As Howe defines the protocol he writes it “committed the theory-sven industrialized-world signatories off the UNFCCC to collective percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below the “baseline” level of 1990, to be achieved between 2008 to 2012.” (Howe 186) The Bush Sr. administration would be hesitant to sign the Kyyoto Procol because of his economic policy toward climate change at the time. The Bush Sr. Administration would call this policy the “no regrets” policy. The “no regrets” policy “approached emissions reductions as a co-benefit of addressing more concrete and tangible environmental problems like local air pollution and deforestation,” as stated by White House counsel Boyden Gray and David Rivikin Jr. from the Department of Energy (Howe 183) Essentially, the policy considered all actions harmful to the economy until proven otherwise (Howe 184).
The United States resists international agreements on climate change because of its deeply engrained need for economic success. One of our main focuses on anything in politics is whether or not The United States will be making money or not. Post-Cold War, the United States is looking to be consumers. What comes with consumerism is factories. What comes with factories is the pollution of our planet. We have such a deeply rooted feer of our economy tanking we place it above all else.
I find it interesting that on the verge of our national budget being blown, we are cautiously entering into climate policies. Within a few years of the Clinton administration, our national budget would increase alarmingly due to the military budget. I think there is something to say about the “freedoms” Americans want, especially with oil in the middle east and climate change. In the United States, our vested interest lies where the money is.

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