The United States and World Global Problems

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In the last 20 years there has been approximately 9 hurricanes most of which were category 4 or above including hurricane Sandy, Irma, Katrina and Harvey. That is not taking into account other natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes and tsunami’s which have caused comparable damage and cost as well. “Climate change is making some kinds of disasters more frequent. Studies show that large wildfires have become more common in the western United States because global warming has made Western forests drier.” When faced with these facts it does not take a scientist to link global warming and the prevalence of stronger, longer and more frequent natural disasters. Therefore it is no wonder the focus of environmental politics has pivoted from managing pollution and reserving resources to stopping the evolution and the eventual climax of climate change. If we do not take drastic and immediate measures the signs are clear to us that this is no longer any one nations problem but a global issue that demands our attention and action. The consequence are clear, and the ball is on our court to now make policies and actions in order to no longer only prevent but to stop current climate from getting more extreme and irreversibly damaging our planet.

“In the first three months of 2018, billion-dollar storms hit the United States three times. By contrast, in the first three months of an average year, just one disaster that causes more than a billion dollars in damages occurs, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records dating back to 1980.” These findings are alarming, and a have transformed our situation from an alarm ringing to a serious and immediate threat to our resources, economy and way of life. While we have made many strides in climate change including agreeing to the Paris Accord in 2015 under president Obama, American car company Tesla out selling all luxury cars and leading the way in electric transportation and innovation and coal plant retirements doubled and emissions per unit of electricity decreased in the first half of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017 there is still a long road ahead in terms of both stopping immediate climate change effects such as natural disasters and resource consumption but also putting into effect ideas, plans and goals in order to create a world where natural resources are no longer needed to the extent they are today, thereby limiting the effects of climate change.

The United States, China and Russia currently account for close to 50% of the worlds global emissions. Emerging economy nations lead in total carbon dioxide emissions. Developed nations have high carbon dioxide emissions per capital and some developing countries lead in the growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions. Clearly, these un-proportional contributions to the climate problem are the core of the challenges the global community faces in finding effective and sustainable solutions. China is number one in emissions and consumption and while creating and growing the fastest and most powerful industrial economies the world has ever known, has also paid a significant price for such success in terms of air, land and sea pollution as a whole. “In 2013, China rolled out a plan to reduce its notorious air pollution within five years. But new data show that Chinese policy makers really do have to choose between economic growth and clean air - at least in the short term.” One phenomenon in particular is how pollution all across the north China plain lessened from the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2016. That may be in part due to improving pollution controls but it also reflects a sharp dip in economic growth at that time. Not surprisingly pollution levels began to climb again from the winter of 2016 to the winter17 as the economy started to recover. China is an example to the rest of the world including the United States that the cost of high production and economic property is a worse quality of life in all other aspects. This is a price, that as a species, we have dodged for a while now. As technology has allowed us to push ever more forward, nature is now giving us an ultimatum we cannot ignore.

However, as I mentioned previously, climate change is no one nations responsibly but a global threat. While major superpowers must lead by example, third world nations and rising industrialized nations must balance growing their economies while also being responsible with their emissions. The European Union has found a possible way to establishing and regulating such emissions in a global scale. Their system is called the European Union Emissions Trading System. This system works on a “cap and trade principle” and essentially places a cap on particular greenhouse gases that can be emitted by installations covered by said system. The cap is lowered over time so that overall emissions fall. “Within the cap, companies receive or buy emission allowances which they can trade with one another as needed. They can also buy limited amounts of international credits from emission-saving projects around the world. The limit on the total number of allowances available ensures that they have a value.” Every year companies must surrender said credits equal in value to their emissions or face heavy fines, if a company reduces it’s emissions their credits can be saved for the future. This system promotes responsible use of resources and emissions and trading brings along flexibility that ensures emissions are cut where it costs the least to do so. A flexible carbon price also promotes investment in clean, low-carbon technologies. With such a system already in place the world is beginning see alternatives and quite possibly a brighter more lucrative future in abandoning traditional energy resources for newer, less harmful and sustainable alternatives.

If we can start to implement policy while acknowledging our sacrifice of economic growth then we can sustainably buy ourselves time to innovate and find new energy sources so that one day the planet can recover, just as our economy can too. The EU has already shown us a possible path to not only buy us time but also promote and incentivize investment in sustainable energy sources, cleaner and lower emission technology and more conscious consumption of resources. While the United States is digressing in this important time it is simultaneously a great thing that the world outside of us has taken it upon itself to uphold the Paris accord and remain hopefully that a unified plan and agreeance of that plan is the only way to a future where accountability and responsibility creates a cleaner more sustainable planet. 

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The United States And World Global Problems. (2022, Apr 03). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

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