Politicians Need to Addresss Global Warming

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Agnessa Kasumyan, Staff Writer
November 14, 2012
Filed under Opinion

In the horserace that has been dubbed “The Presidential Election,” both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and incumbent Barack Obama made promises to improve the economy, yet did not address the one issue that will prove grossly damaging to our economic state.

Global warming.

Though advocates of climate change measures are often viewed negatively as hippie “tree-huggers” who gather around campfires and sing “Kumbaya,” the cruelly laughable irony is that humans are natural beings highly dependent on natural resources. By contributing to the decline of the Earth and refusing to take action against global warming, we are only contributing to the impending decline of civilization as we know it today.

Pardon my “gloom and doom” tone, but scientific facts — not conspiracies — state that if we do not take elaborate measures to decrease the rise of Earth’s surface temperature, we will be heading toward dangerous times. In fact, we already are.

According to a study published by the Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) at policyalmanac.org, the Earth’s surface temperature has increased by 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1901, with most of the warming having taken place during the past two decades.

Atmospheric greenhouse gases, including water vapor and carbon dioxide, trap “outgoing energy” from the Earth’s surface, absorbing and retaining heat.However, being the meddlesome creatures that we are, human beings have managed to tamper with the natural chemistry and physics of the Earth, intensifying the greenhouse effect with our excessive burning of fossil fuels, increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and the absorption of more heat.

This has led to the rise in surface and ocean temperatures, the melting of the glaciers, and the rise in water levels.

During the election, the decision to put global warming on the backburner was a political one, primarily due to the economic turmoil that has ravaged the nation. Who cares about the planet when we can’t even put food on the table or pay the rent?

However, by repeatedly neglecting the issue, we are only damaging the future of our economy even more.

Agriculture, a major player in the United States economy, has already taken a big hit and will continue to be affected by increasing temperatures. According to a report conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), about 80 percent of agricultural land has already suffered from severe droughts, which has damaged fields and crops and increased the price of food due to the shortcomings. Imagine what the inflation rate will be when the Earth continues to get warmer and food supplies become more limited.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that the crops, livestock and seafood that are “grown, raised, and caught” in the country contribute about $200 billion to the economy. The United States provides 30 percent of the wheat, rice and corn on the global market, but with 80 percent of our farming land dried up, how can we expect to keep putting out the same amount of food and taking in more profit?

The ecosystem as we know it may alter as well. The EPA states that because many fish cannot survive beyond a certain temperature, they have to migrate to colder waters. Though this will help them survive the climate, they may end up dying anyway, as they will have to compete with other species for food and resources.

Livestock are especially threatened with the rising temperatures. Heat waves and droughts will increase due to climate change, decreasing food supplies for the animals, making them vulnerable to diseases and parasites and even putting them at risk of infertility.

As evident by recent storms, climate change will also lead to greater natural disasters. Despite the cost in human lives, the amount of money it would take to recover from the damages will be further detrimental to the economy.

A report by economists Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that though droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters have cost us billions of dollars, the costs will only be amplified as the storms become more extreme and more frequent with climate change. Hurricane damages alone are expected to cost $422 billion, with real estate losses totaling around $360 billion, water costs $950 billion, and energy costs around $141 billion as the demand for energy increases.

The domino effect of global warming is mind-boggling, but the lack of initiative on behalf of the public — not just politicians — is even more so.

According to a report conducted by ABC News reporter Bill Blakemore in July, the United States has contributed to global warming more than any other country by far. Cumulatively, we have exerted the largest amount of carbon dioxide into the air, yet we are behind most countries in taking climate change measures.

As our political leaders, the Democratic and Republican parties should have fought to inform the public and make people understand just how serious of an issue global warming is during their bid for the Oval Office, especially since it’s an issue that will affect us more than anything else in the future. Instead we have candidates (Romney) who joke about it.

The candidates may have tried to dodge the issue, but the Earth was not willing to let us forget so easily, as evident by Hurricane Sandy. Still laughing, Romney?

Here’s an anecdote: how many disasters does it take before people start taking global warming seriously? Anybody know the punchline?

We claim not to be able to afford climate change measures and reforms, yet we can afford to dry up six billion dollars, according to the New York Post, on campaigns.

Solving the problem means limiting our use of fossil fuels and increasing our use of natural energy like solar and wind power. According to the NRDC, investing in green, clean-energy industries like solar, wind and energy efficiency programs as well as retooling manufacturing plants can lead to a clean energy economy, one that is far more effective and healthy both financially and physically. The manufacturing of solar and wind turbines can create jobs for millions of Americans without increasing the federal debt and decreasing our dependency on oil.

Global warming needs to be taken seriously. I hate to be the Angel of Death, but denial and procrastination will only lead to disaster. Imagine having a burning fever but not having the medicine to cool your temperature? Eventually, you would die. We have the medicine and the solutions necessary to slow the onset of global warming, yet we are denying the very planet that gives us life proper treatment because the “insurance” is too high.

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