American politicians begin to address climate concerns
April 24, 2019
In the last two decades, the rate of sea level rising has grown to nearly double that of the last century. Greenland lost an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016. The top 2,300 feet of the oceans have shown warming of more than 0.4
degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. According to these stats from NASA, the Earth’s increase in temperature has been accelerating for decades. Yet in the political arena climate change has been largely ignored. Younger generations have made climate change a significant political issue.
According to a report from the Pew Research Center, the millenial and Gen Z generations attribute global warming to human activity more than older generations. They’re willing to take that attribution and make sure human activity stops harming the planet. Younger generations are taking their concerns to the government, demanding that climate change become a priority.
One of the most significant actions taken to address climate change is the proposal for a Green New Deal, sponsored by U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, of New York. Right now, the federal government’s subsidies to big agricultural, oil, mining, nuclear, coal and timber businesses outweigh those provided to small businesses, small farmers and other environmental causes. The Green New Deal would redirect money to small businesses and small farmers who advocates say contribute to healthier, sustainable and secure communities.
The Green New Deal also addresses concerns expressed in a United Nations report, which says that unless carbon emissions are reined in over the next 12 years, the effects of climate change will be irreversible. The centerpiece of the Green New Deal is a transition to 100% clean energy by 2030, and a proposal to phase out fossil fuel use and overhaul the nation’s infrastructure.
On March 26, Senate Republicans called for an early vote on the bill without permitting discussion or expert testimony. In protest, all Democrats abstained or voted against the bill, resulting in a 57–0 defeat.
Advocating for one of her generation’s top issues, Ocasio-Cortez has called for more “environmental hardliners” in the legislature because she sees climate change as “the single biggest national security threat for the United States and the single biggest threat to worldwide industrialized civilization.”
American politicians and the public are late compared to those in other developed nations.
Teenagers across Europe have been skipping school on Fridays to protest inaction on climate change. In late January, around 30,000 students protested in Belgium. That same week, over 10,000 skipped school in Germany. These students are part of a movement that has spread globally.
Now, looking toward the 2020 presidential election, candidates are moving climate change to the forefront of their campaigns. Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, has based his entire campaign on climate change.
Inslee’s website reads, “Through Jay’s Climate Mission, America will build upon the leadership of states and local communities, and engage the full energy of our country in a 10-year mobilization to confront climate change, end our reliance on fossil fuels, and create a clean energy future.”
Inslee’s statement emphasizes that the importance of climate change as a political issue.
“This mission must be led by the White House — starting with bold action on day one of the next administration,” the website states.
Other Democratic candidates have included climate change in their policies. Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang all favor a carbon tax, which charges polluting industries for the carbon dioxide they pump into the atmosphere.
Cory Booker, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan and Andrew Yang all favor nuclear development, which emits no carbon dioxide.
All 18 Democratic presidential candidates vowed to reenter the Paris Agreement in 2021.