Should World Governments Be Involved in Addressing Climate Change

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 Climate change is a series of changes to the climate or weather patterns of the Earth, that affects different locations in a variety of negative ways. It is clear to many scientists that governments are not doing enough to combat climate change and are, in fact, the key players in the causes of climate change. However, some world leaders refuse to believe the climate is actually changing at all and therefore do not feel that any new policies are necessary. It is a common argument that the theory that climate change is caused by humans is a lie and that it is impossible that humans can have such a great effect on the planet. However many scientists are adamant that the issue is caused by humans and therefore can be fixed by humans. Simple policies that governments could put in place include: ‘expanding use of renewable energy sources’ 1, limit carbon emissions, invest in efficient energy technologies and industries, reduce deforestation, amongst others. The reason many believe that governments are to blame for climate change is that ‘the blame lies not on the producers, but rather the consumers of fossil fuels, and that any economic issues should be addressed through policy rather than in the court system’. So should world governments get involved in addressing climate change?

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This is saying that without the consumers buying the fossil fuels, there would be no production, which is a leading cause of climate change. Therefore governments could easily help combat the problem of climate change simply by banning the consumption of fossil fuels. But on the other hand, governments are unwilling to do this because to stop buying from fuel companies, this would cost countries millions and is simply impossible for some.

Climate change is a global issue because everyone on the planet, in a variety of different ways is affected by it. Nasa stated that ‘glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner’. 3 Among these problems there are many more that need to be addressed quickly before they become worse.The issue of climate change carries a wide spectrum of conflicting viewpoints which need to be explored in greater depth.

The most common viewpoint put forward is that all governments should act now and put in place policies that help the cause of slowing down climate change. In an online article by Emily Folk 4, she argues that ‘governments have a far-reaching influence over both their countries and the world as a whole’ and should therefore do what is right and best for their citizens which is to deal with the crisis that is climate change. Folk believes that governments should act as authoritative figures pushing people to become more environmentally friendly. The article gives evidence of how governments can make a positive difference: ‘British Columbia enacted a carbon tax shift on July 1, 2008, taxing $10 for each ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere’. By placing taxes on carbon emissions, it encourages less pollution and in turn, helps to stop the build up of greenhouse gases. Additionally, taxes on carbon emissions can make renewable energy sources more affordable and therefore acts as an incentive for businesses to become for eco-friendly. There is also proof that this worked because British Columbia’s emissions of greenhouse gases dropped by six per cent. This shows that governments can make a difference and also encourage other governments to put in place similar policies. The article references the IPCC report 5, which was a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which warns that if global warming is not kept to 1.5oc in the next twelve years, there will be extreme consequences for the Earth. The IPCC is formed by the United Nations with countries from all across the planet; this further conveys that climate change is a worldwide issue that most countries are coming together to address, however not all.

The writer of the article, Emily Folk, is a conservation and sustainability writer. Although some might say this could make her viewpoint biased and give her a vested interest, it also shows she has expertise in the topic of climate change and therefore makes the article more reliable. Folk is also the editor of Conservation Folks, which means she has a respectable reputation. The article’s reputation, expertise and context are all strengths, however it has some clear weaknesses. The neutrality of the author is weak due to the fact that she is a conservationist and believes strongly that climate change is a pressing matter that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Additionally, the author is unable to see any other point of view or agree with it because she clearly believes she is correct. The article was published recently and is backed by scientific evidence so I believe that it is trustworthy and convincing.

Another perspective to consider is that of governments like the United States who have leaders that strongly believe that climate change is not something they should be creating policies to combat. The USA, China and Australia are amongst the countries less likely to be working towards becoming clean, eco countries. In an article by The Guardian 6, it states that Trump officials are arguing that warnings from scientists are ‘exaggerated and based on the worst-case scenario’. They maintain that the NCA report warning about the dangers of climate change, ‘considers only the highest possible levels of greenhouse gas emissions’. This gives government officials like Trump reason to not lose money on putting in place schemes to reduce emissions. Trump himself has stated that he does not believe ‘climate change would have economic consequences for the US’; he thinks that the more economically profitable option for the US is to not treat climate change like the major issue it is. Many climate change deniers across the world believe that it is impossible for the human race to have such a great impact on our planet. The article acknowledges the fact that Trump Senate nominees have suggested that it is ‘not possible to say how much of it is because of human activities like burning coal and driving cars’. From this article, we can see that many countries, mainly the USA, are not doing enough to combat climate change because they either do not believe it is happening or they, as leaders of countries, do not want to spend millions on a cause that might not benefit them.

The article talks about what Trump’s officials have said but is not in fact, actually written by someone who believes that climate change is not a major issue. Emily Holden is an environment reporter which shows that although all pieces she writes will be factual and backed up by evidence they are not likely to be neutral because they are written by someone who writes a lot about climate change; Holden is likely to have a vested interest. The article was published on the Guardian’s website so is therefore very trustworthy as it is a newspaper with a good reputation. The article is strong because it is evidenced and overall shows more than one point of view. However this article is also weak because there isn’t one clear argument being put forward, so it doesn’t read as very convincing.

The final perspective I will look at is an article 7 which states the reasons why it is so hard for governments to put in place policies that benefit the environment. The article, written by Lisa Smith in 2009, lists six reasons why nations don’t ‘go green’, the overall message of the article is that the reason behind governments holding back, is money. Coal is the cheapest form of generating electricity and ‘power generation fuels economic growth’, similarly, the article states that there is ‘big money in fossil fuel’. This argues that if governments around the world switched to using eco-friendly means of generating energy, it would cost them substantial sums of money. Furthermore, governments would be slow to go green because once other countries do, it benefits them. The article states that ‘if one nation cuts back on its oil usage, other nations get to buy oil at a lower price’. Consumers will buy more and producers will take more from the ground which overall causes even more pollution. Another argument for coal mining is that many third-world countries rely on it for work as there are high levels of unemployment, additionally governments are focusing more on feeding there citizens so money is spent on that instead of renewable energy. Many of these nations believe that if rich countries like the US haven’t gone green then why should they be the first when they have so many other problems to focus on? Moreover, small Scandinavian countries are the world’s most green, which makes it very unfortunate that the biggest countries like China and India are doing the least to combat climate change and are therefore polluting the most and are worst for the Earth’s climate.

The last article is a perspective which argues for governments putting their interests before those of any other country; for this reason the article is biased by vested interests. On the other hand, the author, Smith, is not part of a government of any country and is simply stating the facts so the article can be described as neutral. The article is reliable because it comes from a credible author and is published on a trustworthy site. Another strength would be that it is factual and well evidenced throughout. Overall weaknesses of the article would be that it has some vested interest and only shows one side of the argument. However, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses as it is extremely useful in stating the reasons why governments are so reluctant to do what is right for the environment.

To conclude, I believe all three perspectives show the variety of ways the issue of climate change can be looked at. The first, a clear argument that all governments worldwide should be putting in place policies that will help combat the risks, such as putting taxes on pollutants. This argument is most common with people around the world but less popular with politicians, for example Trump. This links to the second perspective I looked at which talks about the USA and its reluctance to become environmentally friendly because the president believes climate change has been exaggerated by scientists. The last perspective lists the logical reasons why governments do not rush to place bans on coal mining and trade it for renewable energy; they value money more than the environment. Each writer of the articles writes from a neutral perspective with no hidden motives which makes all the articles completely factual, this makes it easier to way up the information. The articles all have similar strengths and weaknesses, however I feel the strongest is the first perspective as it is actually written by someone who believes in what they are saying and is backed by reliable evidence. Overall, I feel it is clear that governments should be doing more to combat the threat of climate change, it may cost them lots of money to switch to renewable energy but it will save the planet,s future. My research has not changed my opinion, only strengthened it. In this argument, the positives of governments across the world all putting in place eco-friendly policies, outweighs the negatives of them solely helping their own country and not the world.

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