The Dark Narrative of Climate Change Policy
By Karina Samuel
On a global level, climate change is deeply rooted against marginalized and low income
communities. The environmental impacts and lack of policy and regulation among those in
positions of power emphasize the stark classist and racial divide that is an unintentional
consequence of our collective struggle and actions. It’s no secret that the impacts of
climate change involve immensely increasing poverty, suffering, and starvation. However,
the gruesome implications of current governmental apathy across many influential political
leaders is largely the driving force of this issue. Problematically, it is generally not the
people of the nations that contribute most to global warming who bear the brute of its
ramifications. When the United States pulls out the Paris Treaty while simultaneously
disproportionately producing the most carbon emissions, it is largely not the American
citizens who feel the effects of lack of climate cooperation. Rather, the world’s poorest who rely on many primitive agricultural processes are severely compromised by prospective droughts and low crop yields. The economic downturns correlated with such impacts have destructive aftermaths- negative coping mechanisms like pulling children (especially girls) out of school to save on fees link classist indifference with inadequate education and literacy. The failure of the Paris climate treaty is just one example of globally deteriorating unity. As countries fail to uphold their goals in emissions, we risk destroying the fragile equality we’ve worked so hard for-in race, socioeconomic status, and gender. Radical change is defined by radical effort. It is imperative that we unite for policy with the aim to prevent the destruction of our movements towards equal opportunity.
Most revolutionary climate change policy is extremely consequential. As a result, its public face is tainted with relations to "socialism" and "extremism." This is simply not true. The nation's largest greenhouse gas emitter is the federal government, owning 430,000 buildings (office buildings) and 650,000 vehicles (Parenti 2012). Our government makes up more than 38 percent of our GDP (Trading Economics 2018). Thus, the most simple solution to the crisis domestically is to reassemble government acquisition away from fossil fuel energy and toward green technology—utilizing the government’s spending vantage to create a new market for clean energy. This redirection of government purchasing would result in tremendous and prominent markets for clean power and energy-efficient vehicles and buildings. If the government initiated green purchases across industry, it would drive down market prices drastically enough that momentum toward green tech would become self-sustainable, and eventually spread to the private sector. In Michael Lind's "Land of Promise," readers see the detailed history of political and governmental involvement in industry. An example of this is IBM and the microprocessor- the federal government not only funded its development, but significantly catalyzed its public reception by being its major consumer. Today, our problem rests with millions of gas-powered vehicles and billions of fuel, alongside thousands of gas stations adding to the struggle. Governments are market movers. They shape and signal to other sectors which investments are wise. Therefore, its leverage in influencing the spread of green technology is fundamentally logical, and empirically effective: after numerous Chinese protests on local air quality, for example, the government was pressured to invest further in revitalizing wind energy (Kuhn 2017). Such examples remind us of the potential of our efforts.
Consensus and collective effort is what drives governments to pay attention to the climate change movement. Scientists are in agreement that we need radical change- and to achieve this, we need the government's observation and consideration. A political and economic shift to green technology is the simplest solution, beyond even innovation, to fix the climate issues facing us today.
● Kuhn, Anthony. “For Some In China's Middle Class, Pollution Is Spurring Action.” NPR, NPR, 2 Mar. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/03/02/518173670/for-some-in-chinas-middle-class- pollution-is-spurring-action.
● Lind, Michael. Land of Promise: an Economic History of the United States. Harper, 2013.
● Parenti, Christian. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. Nation Books, 2012.
● “United States Government Spending To GDP 1970-2018 Data: 2019-2020 Forecast.” United States Government Spending To GDP | 1970-2018 Data | 2019-2020 Forecast, tradingeconomics.com/united-states/government-spending-to-gdp.