Monday, September 21, 2009

U.S. and Climate Change: a need to get the eye on the ball

There has been a lot of politics flying around the U.S. of late with considerable attention being placed on the healthcare reform debate. While complicated, it is an issue that the current administration would like to see resolved soon, as there is another strategic issue looming on the horizon that President Obama would like to address: climate change and the related issue of a national energy policy.

What's putting the pressure on the administration are several events coming up soon that will require the U.S. to take definitive steps and have concrete positions or policies. Without the proactive participation of the United States, there can be significant international implications that could hamper overall progress.

According to an article in today's Los Angeles Times, President Obama is in need of shifting the national focus because, first, he has a major climate change speech scheduled at the United Nations tomorrow (Tuesday). Then he meets with the G-20 later in the week in Pittsburgh, where climate change and energy will be a major economic topic. Then there is a major international conference in Copenhagen in December, charged with developing an international agreement on how to deal with climate change. Should the U.S. not be properly focused on the issues at Copenhagen, it could be very disruptive to the conference's potential for success.

The administration is also having to tackle a related issue having to do with whether to allow oil drilling in the Arctic, which was first proposed by the Bush administration near the close of its term (300,000 signatures opposing the drilling along with support of over 400 scientists were delivered to the Department of the Interior today as part of a public comment period).

While there are many conservationists, ecologists, and environmentalists that all agree on the need for a sound strategy to deal with climate change and its related issues, it's not all quite so rosy throughout the international diplomatic community. Major industrial nations and 2nd/3rd world countries can have competing or conflicting interests or agendas, based on issues of cost, responsibility for emission levels, demand for economic development - either with new energy sources and power plants or with deforestation. Many countries recognize the problems but have different ideas as to what they can economically do about it.

It is a global issue and a complicated one in finding the necessary common ground or solutions to move forward effectively, to really make a difference. But it is one that can't be ignored, whether you believe that climate change is solely mankind's fault, part of a cyclical natural change, or a little of both.

Read L.A. Times article.

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