Climate Change: The Policy Nightmare from Hell

The United States ranks fourth in innovation, yet 59th for climate change performance. How does a country that has the innovative technologies to reduce climate change just decide to barely act? This NYT article made the answer more clear, you can thank politics. 

The article dives into the tug-of-war between the Democratic and Republican ideologies on climate change. Liberal Democrats have proposed a “Green New Deal” to mobilize government to reduce carbon emissions over the next 10 years. Many Democratic presidential candidates have endorsed the deal and intend to make climate change a priority. On the other hand, Conservative Republicans have made a mockery of the deal with talking points of finances and feasibility. 

Image source: DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/6261650491

“The Green New Deal is technically and economically feasible. Socially and politically, it’s a different question.”- Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering.

From a technological standpoint, we do not need a miracle innovation to combat climate change, we already have tech advancements to do so at our fingertips: solar, wind, electric, etc. These innovations are put on the back burner due to bipartisan issues circulating climate change. 

https://www.pexels.com/photo/clouds-dawn-dusk-electricity-157039/

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, among other Republicans on Capitol Hill, have coined the Green New Deal as ‘socialist’ and ‘extremist.’ President Trump has been a climate change denier since the beginning and shares his thoughts regularly on his Twitter. The GOP seems to be playing defense in attempt to de-mobilize the deal. 

The polarizing messages between the parties make my head spin. The divided messages for and against climate change policies have created the rhetoric that Congress Republicans are against and Democrats are for, but Capitol Hill does not speak for the rest of our country. 71 percent of American’s believe climate change is a reality. 

Since 71 percent of the country understands that the climate is changing, I believe that it is crucial that the faces of the Republican party start to shift their messages to what the broader public agrees in. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication Politics, 70 percent of registered voters say that corporations and industry should address climate change (84 percent Democrats, 70 percent Independent and 55 percent Republican). Politics have long been based off of polls and numbers of the public in order to shift policy with the majority, yet we have gridlock on climate change action… 

We are in an age of “party over policy,” but climate change should not be treated as a party issue. We have the technological advancements to combat climate change and the majority of American’s (across party lines) wanting action, but congress can’t seem to come to a happy medium. If Republicans began to shift their narrative to the infrastructure and the new jobs created by climate policies it might in-turn create real action. Time is not our friend in relation to climate change, therefore I think it is critical to act quick and attempt to craft a message that aligns with the broader public. 

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