Withthe impacts of rapidly increasing temperatures already felt acrossthe globe, the issue of climate change is no longer a distant hazard.The human acceleration of anthropogenic climate change (which hasultimately led to global warming) is a worldwide concern because ofthe emission of greenhouse gases (Global Warming). Whether they areemitted in Asia, Europe, Africa, or America, these polluting elementsrapidly disperse evenly across the globe which explains whyinternational agreements are the vehicles of choice in addressinganthropogenic climate change (Global Warming). So far, twelve of thewarmest years on record are all shockingly in the past twenty years.Owing to the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, theoccurrences of asthma among children has almost doubled and isexpected to get worse if the emission of these environmentallyhazardous gases is not significantly curtailed (Climate Change).What’s more, an increased global temperature is closely linked toheat waves, increasing floods, as well as droughts that have pushedfarmers out of business which is unveiled by the dramatic increasein global food prices (Global Warming). Evidently, the impacts ofanthropogenic climate change traverse beyond environmental effectsbecause it also affects the global economy negatively (GlobalWarming). In short, climate change places the entire world at acritical juncture because if the current trend of global warming isswept under the carpet, then the universe faces imminent annihilationengineered by Mother Nature herself (Climate Change).
Sowhat exactly is global warming? How does this international eventtake place? As the name suggests, global warming is an escalation inaverage global temperatures (Global Warming). Even if some naturalevents are known to contribute to the intensification in globaltemperatures, human activities are assumed to be the number onefacilitator. This is primarily because of the increased presence ofgreenhouse gases in the environment, which is directly credited tothe increased activities (industrialization) of human beings on theplanet (Climate Change). The buildup of these gases in theenvironment is the spectacle commonly referred to as the greenhouseeffect(Global Warming). The sun’s energy is responsible for driving theweather and climate of the earth, in addition to heating the surfaceof the earth. Sequentially, the surface of the earth reflects some ofthe heat back into the cosmos (Global Warming).
Whilethese assortments of greenhouse gases are confined in the earth’sstratosphere, they trap some of the outgoing energy in the form ofheat retaining it like the panels of a greenhouse (Global Warming).When the ejected heat energy gets trapped between the atmosphere andthe surface of the earth, what results is an increase in the surfacetemperatures of the earth occasioning anthropogenic climate change(Global Warming). The main greenhouse gases known to underwriteclimate change include (but not limited to): carbon dioxide, methane,nitrous oxide, water vapor, and fluorinated industrial gases likehydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs) (GlobalWarming). These gases are certainly life supporting because withoutthem, all the heat energy would be escaping back into the cosmos andplanet earth would be humanely inhabitable because the temperaturewould be a lot colder. On the contrary, too much accumulation ofthese gases is what causes anthropogenic climate change, an issuethat can be loosely referred to as one of the biggest concerns of the21stcentury (Climate Change).
Regardlessof the fact that global warming raises huge worries across allnations worldwide, there are some factions that strongly hold ontothe notion that global warming is nothing but a mirage. A textbookexample is president-elect Donald Trump, who has more than once,publicly declared and defended his personal discernment by statingthat global warming is notreal(Mehnert 53). According to president-elect Donald Trump: “Globalwarming is nothing but a narrative engineered by the Chinesegovernment to decrease the global competitiveness of manufacturingindustries in the US on the basis of carbon emissions” (54).Bearing in mind that the US has numerous coal-fired power plants,some of which are recognized as the largest concentrated sources ofemissions, Donald Trump believes that China and all the other nationsthat believe in climate change coined global warming as a tactic of“tarnishing the reputation of industries in the US” (54).Moreover, there are some people who do not accept climate change asfactual for the simple reason that they believe that it is a naturalphenomenon and not man-made (Hope 300). Since most of the supportersof climate change often relate amplified human activities toincreased global temperatures, non-believers discredit this school ofthought because even scientists are not sure whether the increasedglobal temperatures can be linked to human activities.
In2010, the UNIPCC released a report that featured the signatures ofmore than thirty five thousand scientists who differed with theconception that human activities had a role in the globalintensification of temperatures (301). The opponents of globalwarming always cite a 2013 study in which more than 53% of theclimatologists rallied against the conception that climate change hadbeen primarily induced by human activities (302). Launching theirclaims in contradiction of climate change, some opponents of globalwarming argue that since there is no solid proof linking humanactivities to increment in atmospheric temperatures, then there is noglobal warming (Mehnert 60). Opponents say that since there is noscientific evidence clearly highlighting the relationship betweenintensified global temperatures and human activities, global warmingis just but a human conception (62). In their world, global warmingis non-existent because the current increment in environmentaltemperatures is one of Mother Nature’s many seasons which are notinflicted by the activities of mankind (63).
Thisperception is shared by those that believe in global warming, but donot trust in the scientific conception that it is solely augmented byhuman activities (industrialization) (65). This group ofintellectuals argues that climate change is occasioned by acombination of environmental (92%) and human (8%) factors (65).Supporting their position, those that subscribe to this school ofthought argue that there are historical periods where an increase inglobal temperature was experienced devoid of human activities in theform of industrialization (Hope 303). In this regard, this groupbelieves that climate change is real, but is not caused by humanbeings because Mother Nature knows how to do her workbest (304). Despite many arguments surrounding the delicate subjectregarding climate change, I am of the opinion that global warming isan existent source of international distress. As an intellectual, Ispend much of my free time exploring the critical issues that causeglobal concern like climate change for instance. Judging by all theinformation I have ever analyzed regarding climate change, I amconfident to say that I believe in the science behind global warmingand its relation to human activities (industrialization). I ampositive that amplification in human activities is what hasoccasioned the intensification of global temperatures.
UnitedStates’ involvement with climate change on an international scalebegan with Bill Clinton’s subscription to the Kyoto Protocol(Vogler 131). Signed in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol advanced promises bythe leaders of autonomous developed states to reduce carbon emissionsby an average of 8.2% lower than the 1990 concentrations by 2012(132). However, the announcement that the treaty was not going to beratified was made in March 2001 by the Bush administration, citingthe concern that it would cause unprecedented economic setbacks inthe economy of the US since it was envisioned for the industrialsector (135). On the 23rdof February, 2002, President George Bush made public, hisadministration’s plan to prevent the release of 700 million metrictons of greenhouse gases into the environment which he said wasequivalent to 100 million cars on the road (Hope 305).Notwithstanding these mitigation efforts, George Bush was accused ofhigh-handedness because he was compelling scientists to tailor-maketheir reports to suit the skepticism of his government on mattersconcerning global warming and climate change (Mehnert 61). There aresome scientists that publicly resigned from their posts because ofthe pressure of the White House.
Theglobal warming torch was passed to Obama as he took office in 2008.As President Obama was campaigning, one of the promises he made wasthat his government would reduce the environmental levels of theheat-trapping emissions by 17% below the 2005 levels by the year 2020(Vogler 138). True to his word, President Obama was firmly committedto the assurance he made to millions of Americans. Even thoughPresident Obama’s administration is on the periphery of finishingits term, it has made tangible progress in designing and implementinga wide range of initiatives aimed at controlling climate change byreducing the emission of greenhouse gases through clean energypolicies (Lawn 57). On the 17thof November, 2008, President Obama made a promise that hisadministration would design and implement a capping system to deterthe progression of global warming (57). Just as he assumed office, hesanctioned the White House Office of Energy and Climate ChangePolicy, to steer his administration’s agenda against anthropogenicclimate change (58).
Onthe 3rdof August, 2015, President Obama’s administration unveiled the CPP.It was President Obama’s tool of reducing energy bills forbusinesses and households, protecting public health, and bringingclean power to communities across the nation (Vogler 147). The CPPwas instituted to set the first-ever national standards to cap thelevel of emissions power plants in the US released to the environment(Haywood 450). The master plan was proposed by the EnvironmentalProtection Agency in 2014, which reflected the previous governments’inclination towards the realization of cleaner energy alternatives(450). To attain the goal of reducing 30% reduction in emissions by2030, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to theEnvironmental Protection Agency, directing it to cash in on the widerange of energy sources and technologies, which include theactivities indicated in the CPP (452).
Throughthe CPP, President Obama’s administration has worked marvels in therenewable energy sector. The CPP has promoted leadership in renewablesources of energy because it has accelerated the issuance of permitsto companies that intend to provide renewable sources of energy onpublic lands (Price 4). Throughout President Obama’s tenure, hisgovernment has accredited more than 10 geothermal power plants, 9wind farms, and more than 30 solar facilities (5). Reports indicatethat these plants have managed to produce enough electricity to powermore than 4.5 million households across the nation and have providedroughly more than 20,000 jobs (6). The streamlined federal process ofpermitting the establishment of renewable energy plants has enablepublic-private partnerships in clean energy, extending America’sheadship in global clean energy sources (Lawn 55). Before Obama tookoffice, there were no projects that provided renewables on publicland. Moreover, there was hundreds of pending of application formsfor businesses that showed the interest in providing alternativesources of energy but were obstructed because of red-tape governmentpolicies (56). But after Obama assumed office, the pendingapplications were processed, and the successful ones are thecompanies that presently supply the national grid with cleanerenergy. As a matter of fact, this plan suitably gratifies thegovernment’s objective of expanding and modernizing the nationalelectric grid by 2020 (60).
Withoutdoubt, making business energy efficient is one of the best ways ofmaking businesses more competitive, saving families money, andreduces greenhouse gas emissions (Lawn 62). In his first term,President Obama’s Departments of Housing and Urban Development andEnergy performed upgrades on more than 2 million houses in America toimprove energy efficiency (62). Additionally, President Obama’sadministration also established a new set of standards forrefrigerators, dishwashers, and many other household and officeitems. Obama’s administration mentioned that the new appliancestandards would by 2030, have prevented the accumulation of 3 billionmetric tons of carbon in the atmosphere (65). Still on the energysaving concern, President Obama’s government introduced the betterbuildings challenge, which was focused on helping Americans buildenergy efficient buildings by 2030 (Price 7). By constructingbuildings that conserve energy, Obama’s administration said thatthis plan of action is intended to reduce the state’s dependency onother sources of fuel to heat and light houses thereby conservingenergy (9).
In2011, Obama’s administration presented it’s first-ever standardof fuel economy for buses, trucks, and vans. The fuel standard wasintroduced to curb carbon emission by roughly 300 million tons (Shank& Matt). In his second term, President Obama partnered with otherkey industry players and unveiled yet another plan for heavy-dutycars to reduce fuel consumption and condense carbon emissions. InAugust 2009, President Obama’s administration created the ARPA-E(Shank & Matt). This agency was tasked with the responsibility ofconducting research projects on the potential to change the wayenergy was generated, stored, and used (Shank & Matt). PresidentObama showed support for the activities of this agency by allocatingit funds in his administration’s national budgets since 2010 (Shank& Matt). The agency is responsible for keeping the US at thefront in terms of clean energy research and development includingthe exploration of nuclear energy as an alternative source of energy(Zou & Xinyu 578). However, the usage of radioactive elements haselicited mixed reactions with some nations abusing the underlyingscience to devise nuclear weapons that have become a major threat tointernational peace (Degueldre 121).
Inefforts to curb environmental levels of methane, which is one of themost potent greenhouse gases, the Obama administration unveiled itsStrategy to Reduce Methane Emissions in March of 2014 (Haywood 455).The strategy was instituted to further cut the emission of theenvironmentally toxic gas from gas, oil, landfills, agriculture, andcoal mining (458). Later in January of 2005, Obama’s administrationannounced a new methane-cut goal aimed at reducing the emissions ofmethane form the gas and oil sector by 45% to 50% from the 2012levels by 2025 (458). What’s more, Obama’s administrationrecognizes the significance of American forests in the carbonpollution cycle, eliminating close to 15% of the total greenhouse gasemissions annually in the US (461). In the backdrop of climatechange, cases of wildfires have been on the increase debilitatingthe capacity of the forests to absorb carbon from the environment(Lawn 86). Additionally, the pressure of expanding urban centers hascaused a further decline in the number of forests throughdeforestation further declining the rate of forest carbon removalfrom the environment (89). In response to the dwindling number offorests, Obama’s administration has vouched for the conservation oftrees in order to ensure that there are a high number of trees tocontinue removing carbon emissions from the environment, while alsoimproving the quality of soil and water to reduce the occurrence onwildfires (462). The Obama administration has been working tirelesslyto seek for new ways of restoring and protecting American forests inaddition to creating other critical landscapes like wetlands andgrasslands in the face of a challenging climate.
Evidently,the government of the United States has exerted lots of effort infighting climate change. Beginning with Bill Clinton’s subscriptionto the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the fight against climate change hasbeen passed down from one government to another. I have to say that Icompletely concur with all the plans of action because they haveproven to be effective in managing climate change. I concur with thepolicies set by the government of the United States for the simplereason that they are effective. For instance, the rate of carbonemissions in 2012 was 17% less than the average for the past 20years. Moreover, I agree with the policies of Obama’sadministration because they have provided an alternative source ofenergy through industries that provide renewables. In this regard,the policies of the government have fed the national grid with cleanenergy that has provided enough electricity to light and heat morethan 4 million households in the United States.
Also,Obama’s administration has supported the research of alternativesources of energy, including nuclear energy, despite the myriads ofarguments against its utilization by independent states like Korea.What’s more, the government has significantly reduced the emissionof CFC’s like methane by setting standards for electronicappliances like air conditioners and refrigerators. The carbonemission standards set on heavy trucks by Obama’s administrationhas proven to be effective because reports show that carbon emissionsfrom these vehicles have also reduced significantly. Clearly, all thepolicies implemented by the government of the United States haveproven to be operative because there is evidence showing that theyactually work. If the advancement of climate change progressivelycontinued in the backdrop of all these policies, it would imply thatthe policies executed by the government were unproductive in fightingglobal warming. Although the positive change is not significantenough to be noticed, there is a sure indication of the fact thatclimate change can be regulated.
Inas much as the government has done so much thus far, there is stillmore room for policy creation and improvement. To its credit, theadministration of President Obama acknowledges the fact that there isstill more to be done, declaring that it is ready and willing to workwith anyone to draft functional solutions to climate change becauseit is an issue affecting every single person on planet earth (Lawn85). First, the government can double or triple ridership byinvesting in the public transport system (Global Warming Solutions).Using this approach, the government can provide clean transportalternatives like hydrogen fuels, advanced batteries, and cellulosicbiofuels. Considering that 90% of the transportation energy used inthe US is petroleum based, investing in clean ridership projects canhelp decrease carbon emissions from transport related concerns by 26to 30 percent by the year 2050 (Global Warming Solutions).
Secondly,the government can seal all the loopholes in their environmentalpolicies by lifting all the exemptions that provide unfair advantageto some companies that intentionally break environmental laws (GlobalWarming Solutions). Correspondingly, the government can remove allthe fossil fuel subsidies. With this approach, the government caneliminate the most wasteful and pollutant sources of fossil fuels(Global Warming Solutions). This will help reduce further, carbonemissions from the utilization of fossil fuels in the production ofenergy. Fourth, the government of the US can establish agovernment-supported nationalgreen agencywhose sole purpose will be to provide financial and legal assistanceto hopeful investors of renewable sources of energy in the UnitedStates (Global Warming Solutions). Using this agency as aninstrument, the government can assist investors set up industries forthe production of clean energy that can be fed to the national grid.Finally, the government can levy harsher greenhouse gas fee chargeson carbon emitting companies within the confines of the US. Usingthis approach, the government can use the funds raised to reduce theexternalities of the production processes of industries in the US.Moreover, the government can use the funds to procure research anddevelopment processes of greener sources of energy (Global WarmingSolutions).
Inconclusion, global warming is undoubtedly one of the greatestconcerns of the 21stcentury. Climate change has clearly manifested itself with thecurrent increase in global temperatures, which has caused severedrought, wildfires, and floods. These unanticipated changes inclimate have negatively affected the level of food production, whichhas caused a corresponding increase in the global prices of foodstuff. Clearly, global warming affects more than just the environmentbecause it also affects the global economic configuration. Inresponse, nations are coming together to try and mitigate the effectsof rapidly increasing environmental temperatures. The government ofthe US is one of the leaders in matters concerning global warming. AsI have discussed in this paper, different presidents of the US havetaken numerous steps in their efforts to combat global warming. Evenso, President Obama is the one mostly acknowledged when it comes toglobal warming because of the many policies his government hascreated to combat global warming. There is evidence showing that hispolicies are operative because the environmental levels of carbonsignificantly reduced during President Obama’s tenure. Now thatPresident Obama is passing the global warming torch toPresident-elect Donald Trump, we hope that he will not live to hispromise of tearing apart all the global warming agreements engineeredby the outgoing president. Even if President-elect Donald Trump is adisbeliever in the concept of anthropogenic climate change, it is thehope of millions of Americans that he will keep the flame of theglobal warming torch burning by continuing the good work from wherePresident Barrack Obama will leave it by the time he is vacatingoffice.
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ARPA-E-Advanced Research Project Agency- Energy
CPP-Clean Power Plan