Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Economy Vs. The Environment

The Obama administration is faced with an extremely difficult period in our history in which to try and address climate change. In the midst of a crippling recession, climate change is rarely the primary concerns of American citizens. However, recession or no recession, steps need to be taken to protect the planet. After class, I read the NY Times article by John M. Broder that Professor Hirsh showed us a glimpse of. According to the arcticle, "the (Obama) administration promoted measures to cap greenhouse gas emissions and support new means of fueling homes and vehicles with far less carbon dioxide intensity." At the same time, five Obama officials appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee "to speak in support of a bill to address global warming and encourage development of nonpolluting energy sources. They said such measures were important not only to the environment but to the nation’s economic competitiveness."

The proponents of the bill, named after John Kerry and Barbara Boxer, hail it as a way to lessen the impacts of climate change while creating new jobs in the alternative energy sector. The bill's opponents, however, criticize it for "overly complex", and fear it "will harm the economy, kill jobs and favor some parts of the country over others." I think the latter group is missing the point and thinking on a much-too-small scale. Whether or not this bill's passing would create or eliminate jobs is not something I pretend to be able to predict. I do believe, however, that the United States' continued reluctance to join the rest of the industrialized world in the struggle against climate change could be devastating. According to, "China’s leaders are investing $12.6 million every hour to green their economy." ( So, while the US economy struggles and America tries to close its eyes and pretend climate change isn't happening, the Chinese have a thriving economy and are spending billions to go green.

While the recession may be the main concern for America at the moment, more attention needs to be paid to the future, namely, the environment. The Kerry-Boxer bill may, as White House hopes, help heal the economy in some way. Or, it may offer no help whatsoever. This is not really relevant. The point is that its better to act now and risk making a mistake than to do nothing and accept our dismal fate.

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