Climate Change

Is Climate Change an existential risk, or are we merely being led by alarmists?By Published On:
cover icon for Climate Change
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Introduction

Note: "Climate Change" and "Global Warming" are often used interchangeably.

Climate Change is "a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels (Oxford Dictionary)." Each party has different views on how urgent climate change is and how best to deal with it. In a Stanford University and the New York Times poll, 63 percent of Democrats said climate change was a pertinent issue to them. In comparison, only 40 percent of independents and 18 percent of Republicans expressed the same sentiment.

Republican

Some Republicans argue that human activity is not primarily responsible for the changing climate. A Purdue University survey revealed that 47% of climatologists do not believe that humans are the primary cause of climate change and instead believe that a combination of humans and the environment are to blame. Additionally, some Republicans believe that changes in global climate are merely a byproduct of a perceived cyclical climate.

Some Republicans recognize the reality of climate change but believe that environmental protection must advance hand in hand with economic prosperity. Any regulation must have a solid scientific basis and not infringe on personal freedoms. Some Republicans also favor market incentives to develop clean energy solutions and financial incentives given to corporations that use cleaner energy and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. However, some Republicans with a strong capitalistic conviction hold that economic prosperity is a more logical, short-term solution against climate change. More specifically, they believe that bringing 3rd world countries, which are impacted by natural disasters most severely and are using outdated energy technologies, into a more robust economic environment would be a more efficient alternative to the carbon tax.

Republicans support the push for renewable energy as long as it does not come from the taxpayer's pocket. It is a market-based solution such as a partnership between traditional and renewable energy companies. Such an alliance would be the catalyst of alternative energy sources and would not burden the taxpayer. Another proposal that some Republicans support is issuing tax breaks to companies using new technologies to reduce their carbon emissions.

Democrat

Democrats believe that climate change is an ongoing issue that requires an urgent response; they believe the fate of future generations hangs in the balance and that failure to address the issue adequately could have disastrous consequences. The ideas many Democrats have proposed to combat climate change have varied. For starters, a majority of Democrats agree with some form of a carbon tax to lower the amount of carbon emission in the atmosphere, which many economists view as a cost-effective way for countries to move away from fossil fuel dependence. In addition, most Democrats favor strong regulation on fracking, although the party is split on whether to ban fossil fuel exports.

Solutions such as a carbon tax would affect the lower class the most. This effect could be counteracted by distributing the tax revenue back to the poor. The carbon tax would create an interesting financial case study that economic evolutionary techniques could tackle. Many economists say the economy would compensate for a carbon tax. Complex modeling alternatives disagree on the effects of the carbon tax.

Discussion Questions

  • Is climate change an essential threat to the world or the country?
  • If it is necessary, is it the responsibility of the government to address the issue?
    • Should a carbon tax be instituted?
    • Is something like the Green New Deal necessary?
  • Given the amount of energy the US uses, how should we fit this demand?

Sources:

Davenport, Coral, and Marjorie Connelly. “Most Republicans Say They Back Climate Action, Poll Finds (Published 2015).” The New York Times, January 30, 2015, sec. U.S. [https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/politics/most-americans-support-government-action-on-climate-change-poll-finds.html?_r=0.](https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/politics/most-americans-support-government-action-on-climate-change-poll-finds.html?_r=0.)

RepublicanViews.org. “Republican Views on the Environment | Republican Views.” Republicanviews.org, April 18, 2014. [https://www.republicanviews.org/republican-views-on-the-environment/.](https://www.republicanviews.org/republican-views-on-the-environment/.)

The Washington Post. “Green New Deal, the Paris Climate Agreement, Nuclear Power: Where 2020 Democrats Stand.” The Washington Post, May 31, 2019. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/climate-change/.](https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/policy-2020/climate-change/.)

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