Is the U.S. setting the Earth on Fire?

The Bush Sr. administration was hesitant to sign the Kyoto Protocol because they felt they would feel the burden of the responsibility more so than other countries. Despite science proving that change would need to be made, the Bush Sr. administration was more fearful of the possible negative economic consequences than the environmental consequences. Following a powerful conservative consensus at the end of the Cold War, things relating to the environment were already on a downturn with the Sagebrush Rebellion. As a result there was already hesitation when it came to policy that might require rollbacks on what companies can do related to the environment. The Bush Sr. administration was also concerned that bigger, more developed countries like the United States would have to bear more of a burden than developing countries. There was an understanding that developing countries would have to spend more money on becoming stable and building themselves up, so they would not have the money to spend on environmental protocols. Because of this, the United States was concerned they would not only have to spend money on implementing their own environmental protocols, but also giving aid to other countries so they could do the same. This along with the belief that environmental protection protocols would weaken the economy by reducing production gave hesitation to the Bush administration when it came to signing the Kyoto Protocol.

I think the United States continues to resist international agreements on climate change because they fear it will diminish their economic prowess. The United States is known as a wealthy country that fights tooth and nail to guarantee financial success for itself, at least at a political level for the highest earners, and international agreements are seen as a threat to this. Climate change also keeps going lower and lower on the priority list for the United States and the main advocates for the cause are scientists themselves, leaving the issue without a huge grasp of power at the legislative or executive level. The issue has also become a partisan issue which has led to further disagreements within the United States so without coming up with a solution internally, there cannot be a solution externally. 

The argument over climate change and how it should be handled is something I have constantly seen growing up. While it might seem like a cut and dry issue that should be dealt with in order to protect the Earth and its existence for future generations, when putting that ideal up against the needs of the economy, it struggles immensely. I think it is very easy to see these two sides as adversaries instead of two ideals that can actually work together. As the article talked about, there are ways to help reduce CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gasses and not lose money to our economy. However, especially in the United States, the issue has become so polarized people take an opinion without truly looking at how different solutions might actually work.

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