There are several environmental issues that plague our society, but I believe that the number one major issue that our environment faces is global warming. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (n.d.), “Climate change is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time, responsible for rising seas, raging storms, searing heat, ferocious fires, severe drought, and punishing floods. It threatens our health, communities, economy, and national security.” (para 1). Scientists believe that human activity is the driving force behind the rise in the Earth’s temperature due to the large amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases that we emit into our atmosphere.
(National Geographic, n.d.).
I think that policies related to global warming have been somewhat beneficial in trying to curb or reduce some of the practices that contribute to its effects on our environment; however, I believe we have a long way to go. Policy implementation usually affects companies, businesses, etc. but there doesn’t seem to be any policies in place that make society as a whole comply as well.
For example, during George W. Bush’s presidency, Congress enacted the following law, “The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which aimed at a national automobile fuel-economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and an increase in the supply of alternative fuel sources by setting a renewable fuel standard of 36 billion gallons by 2022.” (Theodoulou & Kofinis, 2012, p. 8.1). This policy ensures that the automobile industry will comply with figuring out ways to make cars more fuel efficient to cut down on fuel consumption but it does nothing to stop people from driving or encouraging them to use public transportation, commute, carpool, etc.
Due to the rise of Earth’s temperature, summers and winters have become much warmer than they used to be. Every devastating hurricane that hits the coastlines as well as the severe droughts that the deserts have experienced can also be attributed to global warming. Being aware of the damage that is caused by how we live, I have tried to become more conscientious in the things that I do. For example, I do not drive to work, I take the metro. I also make sure that I recycle everything that can be recycled. I try to cut down on waste as much as I can by conserving energy and water as much as possible.
Before this week’s reading assignment, I don’t think I reve much thought into the policies that have been put in place to protect our environment. I knew they existed but that was the extent of it. I didn’t realize all the politics behind environmental policy implementation. But what I did learn was that it’s a very difficult and complex process due to all the actors involved. According to our text, “Among the reasons for congressional failure are the fragmented committee system, congressional members being cross-pressured by pro-business and pro-environment lobbies, insufficient resources such as time and expertise, and finally, a concern with local, rather than national, issues (Switzer, 1974). (As cited by Theodoulou & Kofinis, 2012, p. 8.3). There seems to be too much influence from outside sources to make any real progress.
I think my perspective has been reinforced now that I am more informed. Although I didn’t know much about the policies, I have always felt it was important to protect the environment in any way that I can, especially after having lived in Germany for a few years.
While there, I had to adjust to their way of living, particularly when it came to disposing of waste. There they have strict policies on the trash and what you can and can’t throw away in the regular garbage. Although it was an adjustment, it made me realize that there are better ways.