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Taking a Stance on Global Warming

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When President George Washington declined the presidency office for a third term, he delivered a speech warning the public about the dangers of political parties. "However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion," he declared in his Farewell Address (Notable Quotes). President George Washington was wary about the polarized opinions that would develop between political parties, polarized opinions that would polarize Americans. He was cognizant of the fact that political parties would divide Americans on certain issues, and he was fearful for that divide. The two major political parties exist, Democrats and Republicans, differ on many issues and the handing of such issues, especially the topic of global warming. The main problem with these differences, as President George Washington had warned, is that the citizens within those political parties cannot find the strength to focus on the problem but rather they focus on the differences of opinion and therefore nothing has been passed to largely impact global warming.

When faced with the prospect of global warming, the Democrats and Republicans take very different stances on the approach to this issue. 74 percent of Democrats believe that the effects of global warming are already occurring (Jones). Only 30 percent of Republicans believe that the effects of global warming are already occurring (Jones). Also, 67 percent of Republicans believe that the seriousness of global warming is overly exaggerated in the news (Jones). Moreover, 54 percent of Democrats believe that the Earth is warming due in part to human activity (Pew Research Center). Due to these statistics, it is apparent that Republicans would place other issues in far more seriousness than global warming. Republicans place the issues of terrorism, the economy, education, taxes, Social Security, the Iraqi War, health care, immigration, flag burning, the energy policy, inheritance tax, current job situations, abortion, the budget deficit, gay marriage, minimum wage, government surveillance, and other environment concerns before the issue of global warming (Pew Research Center). On the other hand, Democrats rank the issue much higher, placing only the issues of health care, education, the economy, Social Security, the Iraqi War, current job situations, terrorism, minimum wage, taxes, the energy policy, other environment concerns, and the budget deficit before global warming (Pew Research Center).

Despite placing other issues of greater importance, Republicans still believe that global warming is a problem that needs to be tackled. Arizona Senator John McCain, a Republican, proclaimed, "It [global warming] is real. We've got to address it. We can do it with technology, with capitalist and free enterprise motivation. And I'm confident that we can pass onto our children and grandchildren a cleaner, better world" (Reuters). Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, also a Republican, quipped, "Is global warming an issue for the world? Absolutely. Is it something we can deal with by becoming energy independent and energy secure? We sure can" (Reuters). Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican as well, stated, "But climate change and who's causing it is of less importance... We have done no harm if we take better care of this planet and give it to our children with cleaner air, cleaner soil, and cleaner water" (Reuters). As these prominent Republican leaders have stated, global warming is an issue that affects everyone.

Recently, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced that the Select Committee on Global Warming will be eliminated (Wing). The Select Committee on Global Warming was created in 2007 by Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as "a forum to debate the latest developments on climate change issues and research" (Wing). This panel has conducted more than 75 meetings that focused on the impact of global warming, ending the United States' reliance upon foreign oil, and creating 'clean-energy' jobs (Wing). However, the select Committee on Global Warming did not possess the authority to write any sort of legislation; as a result, legislative issues about climate change passed through either the House Energy Commerce Committee or the Natural Resource Committee (Wing). Although the Select Committee on Global Warming, serving as a political platform, was key in assisting the Democrats to pass energy and climate legislation through the House of Representatives, Republicans place the issue of the budget deficit above global warming and since two committees already deal with the topic of global warming, this third committee was deemed unnecessary (Wing). Republicans are still concerned with global warming, but they kept in mind the issue of the rising national debt.

Republicans could possibly hold the belief that global warming is not an immediate concern due to a variety of reasons. Foremost, excluding the El Nino of 1998, Earth's overall temperature has not increased since 1979 (Ridenour). In addition, the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty, which places firm restrictions upon countries' greenhouse gas emissions and use of energy, is being considered by the United States, Russia, and the E.U. for ratification in response to the concern of global warming (Ridenour). However, even if the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty were ratified by the United States, Russia, and the E.U., greenhouse gas emissions would only be reduced by two percent; scientists declare that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by a minimum of 60 percent in order to reverse the effects of greenhouse gases (Ridenour). Lastly, the United States has spent $18 billion on climate research, which is about three times as much as any other country has spent on the climate crisis (Ridenour). Since the United States is already tripling what other countries are spending, Republicans might be reducing the amount of money fueling the climate campaign in regards to concerns over the expanding national debt.

Scientists have predicted that by the year 2100, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will double, and the average global temperature will raise a minimum of 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (Bliese). Since water expands as it warms, sea levels are expected to rise, especially in states like Florida and Louisiana where coastal flooding will be prevalent (Bliese). Due to this alteration in temperatures, climate zones will be shifted to the north (Bliese). Unfortunately, this process of shifting climate zones will occur much faster than ecosystems can evolve,



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