Obama takes climate change into his own hands


Graphic by Clara Ilkka

Tim Press

With so much disagreement these days among major political players in the country, it seems that almost every important issue seems impossible to take care of while pleasing everybody. These impasses accomplish nothing and just waste time. One of these issues is climate change, a topic which demands such urgency when considering what long term consequences could result from it if we fail to prepare for the worst.

Talk of the government’s role in climate change was sparked a few weeks ago when President Obama used executive order to create an administration centered on how to respond to the effects of climate change. He also outlined plans to limit carbon emissions by power plants across the country. Although it is good that Obama is trying to initiate action against climate change, the execution of his plan through executive order will not get him the support he needs.

Climate change is a grim reality, regardless of where fingers are pointed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2°F in the next century.

The gradual warming of the planet has the potential to have devastating effects, among these are higher sea levels, an increased frequency in floods, droughts and intensified hurricanes; an effect in particular that reared its ugly head a few weeks ago when Typhoon Haiyan decimated the Philippines.

The biggest contribution towards climate change is human activity, particularly the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. According to an article from National Geographic, yearly emissions of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas, have gone up by about 6 billion metric tons worldwide since 1990.

With this in mind, it becomes evident that reducing these emissions would be greatly beneficial for our planet as a whole.

It is great that Obama has climate change as a top priority. But by using executive order, it made it seem like he went right over Congress’ head to get what he wanted. The last thing Obama needs is more opposition from people, especially on an issue as important as this.

Obama’s on edge popularity resulted from the rocky rollout of the Affordable Healthcare Act in the beginning of Oct. According to a poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports, 58 percent of people view the healthcare law unfavorably. Although it might not sound like much, that is the highest it has been this year.

Another poll from an article on NYDailyNews.com said Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 41 percent; one percent lower than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who admitted to smoking crack cocaine a few weeks ago.

Regardless of who is president, there are people who believe that the government should stay out of climate control, primarily, because they believe jobs will be cut. These lost jobs can be very easily supplemented with the expansion of the usage of clean energy.

Keeping the government out of climate control is simply not an option. When considering how severe the long term consequences could be and how many people could be affected, the only way to implement a plan that everyone would follow is to get the government involved. This is not something people can just realize and fix by themselves. But Obama has to be very careful. Incentives must be offered for people to change. The only way people will change their energy habits is if they actually want to.