The “Tree Hugger” movement

Mankind has abused the earths resources throughout history. However many failed to realize the impact of extracting such resources. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, many environmentalist movements began to gain traction throughout the United States. The rise of conservatism within the United States in the 1980s increased environmental awareness. The Kyoto Protocol was an international treaty that was adopted in 1997 at a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Kyoto, Japan. The goal of the treaty was to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main cause of climate change. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries and the European Union agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% below their 1990 levels by the year 2012. Each country was given a specific emissions reduction target, which was based on its level of industrialization and historical emissions. According to Joshua Howe’s book “Behind the Curve,” The Bush Sr. administration was hesitant to sign the Kyoto Protocol due to several reasons, including concerns about economic impacts and the perceived unfairness of the treaty. One of the main concerns was the economic impact of the treaty, which would have required the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels by 2012. The Bush administration along with many other conservatives believed that this would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, and that the costs of compliance would outweigh the benefits. Conservatives have always been resistant towards laws that would favor climate change because most of these laws required the United States to spend more on resources that it previously received for far cheaper. Many also believed that the science behind climate change was flawed and biased. Because of these reasons, the Bush administration was hesitant to signing the Kyoto protocol.

Howe describes how the United States could reduce the cost of converting to more environmentally friendly methods using multilateral cooperation. Multilateral cooperation refers to the practice of countries working together through international institutions, agreements, and policies to address global environmental problems, such as climate change. However one of the reasons why I believe the United States refuses to cooperate on international agreements on climate change is because of the United States economy. With the many economic restrictions environmentalism causes the United States, with one of the largest economies in the world would be hesitant to signing such agreements as a weakened economy would limit the United States impact on a world stage. The United States has also been divided on the issue of environmentalism for a long time. The country is split between favoring it and disapproving it. Without full support from its government and citizens, it is unlikely that the United States would be able to sign any sort of international agreement. The United States would also be concerned about its sovereignty. Many Americans believe that the way they run things is the best way. Therefore agreeing with international laws would limit US sovereignty and pride, along with limiting United States international influence.

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