Some of the reactions that the Goal Green post “Plastic: The Gift That Keeps On Giving” have been concerned with is how we can proceed from this problem. I want to address some of the ways we, on an individual scale, can begin to offset our carbon emissions. Among many other things, we must educate ourselves and we must elect to federal levels, those politicians that have truly given logical consideration to the issue. In this post, I will write about one that seems not to have done so. In future posts, I would like to evaluate other candidates, and suggest more ways to have a part in conserving the environment.
Last month, President Bush, at the G8 Summit, decided that the U.S. would not partake in Europe’s quest to halve global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 until other major polluters, like China, would agree to do the same. As I’ve written about before, developing countries like India and China cannot afford to curb emissions as much as the U.S. and other Western nations can. In fact, China is doing a lot that the U.S. is not. Bush’s approach will prove to be strategically ineffective.
The President has decided that for the good of American industry, we cannot afford to cut emissions while growing economies, those that pose a threat to our own GDP, are able to exploit cheaper, dirtier methods of production. This reasoning is wrong on a number of fronts. First, we can analyze how civilians interact with the economy to further understand how big oil and other industries function. As populations across America are becoming wearier of the true effects of our carbon emissions, they are pursuing and demanding greener lifestyles. At the forefront of this shift are the citizens of California. This is not only the state with the highest GSP (Gross State Product), but it also holds the most progressive environmental policy.
For instance, California has adopted a low-carbon fuel standard in which it will require oil companies to cut the carbon content of their gasoline. What does this mean for the oil industry? When producing oil to be sold in the United States, special standards are to be set for the oil being sold in California, not to mention other, runner-up green states, with different standards. Companies are subjected to halt bulk production in order to cater to smaller, state, standards. As the vice-president of public affairs at Exxon Mobil, Ken Cohen was recently quoted as saying by The Economist newspaper, “we need a uniform and predictable system[…] it needs to be a federal system.”
Aside from the fact that the very corporate entities that President Bush is trying to protect are asking him for a national policy, Bush is also failing to realize the potential benefits of the U.S. being a leader in the greening of big business. America’s highest potential lies in innovation. The signs of this are very clear to us. While the country has created and led innovation in automobiles, the industry is now being overtaken by other countries. Meanwhile, America is successful in computing, where Silicon Valley, a hub of software and dot-com innovation, has proven to be one of the most successful American-born industries. So as oil prices are again reaching record highs and European countries, among others, are looking for a way out, why not provide them with one by subsidizing research in the field and requiring large corporations to cut emissions by innovating?
Finally, if Mr. Bush’s true intentions lie in the greater scheme of forcing developing countries and already big polluters like China and India into adopting an energy policy of their own, he is still very much mistaken. It is evident that emerging countries are yet emerging. As such, they cannot allow themselves to set regulations as strict as the Western world. Just like America developed in the late 19th century and early 20th (without much regulation); these countries will not set any policy that can match the first-world. The key point of this argument is America mustn’t lag behind these developing countries; it should push its companies to provide the world with an alternative. Other countries will undoubtedly be happier with a greener energy solution and independence from ties to the unstable Middle East.
In these three points: American companies are asking for a federal policy to restrict emissions, the U.S. can be a leader in the alternative energy industry, and the developing world will not agree to greener standards before the U.S. does, I believe I have identified Bush’s decision for the G8 summit as a big mistake.
The future, however, is a little brighter, as virtually every candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election seems to favor some sort of green national policy. What we can and should do (for those that are citizens of this country) is to study our options and decide for ourselves whose environmental plan seems most feasible, effective, and thought through. I am convinced that this will be the mark of someone who will truly be dedicated to running this country right in the next four years.
I will soon provide a detailed analysis of each candidate’s environmental policy on this site. Aside from voting, there are other, smaller ways to offset our carbon footprint on the Earth, I am currently formulating a list of such methods and will share them with you soon.
Please share your opinions on this article with me and other readers by either submitting a comment or e-mailing me directly at Arthur.Getman@gmail.com.