Global warming is an extremely complex political issue. First and foremost, there is political conflict regarding whether or not global warming is occurring. There are groups working to both raise alarm over the issue and to minimize the concern regarding it, making it difficult for the general population to know what and who to believe. Second is the conflict regarding whether climate change is man-made, entirely natural, or natural but being expedited by human actions. Then there is conflict regarding what actions should or should not be taken in response to global warming. The biggest challenge surrounding the issue of global warming is the fact that the vast majority of the world’s economy revolves around energy sources or manufacturing techniques that produce greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. While the Republican Party is fairly divided on the issue, most Democrats seem to stand united on climate change. Democrats not only believe in global warming, but Democratic beliefs on global warming include a belief that the U.S. should be actively trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels and develop clean energy initiatives. The Democratic Party is “committed to curbing the effects of climate change, protecting America’s natural resources, and ensuring the quality of our air, water, and land for future generations. From investing in clean-energy to protecting our ecosystems, the Obama administration and Democrats are working to address our biggest environmental challenges, paving the way to a more sustainable America.”
The Evolution Of Global Warming Views
Since climate change came to the forefront of the public eye, Democratic statements regarding it have evolved. In 2008, the Democratic Party platform stated, “We will lead to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide. That means increased instability in some of the most volatile parts of the world.” However, in 2012, the language changed greatly, with the platform stating, “We know that global climate change is one of the biggest threats of this generation – an economic, environmental, and national security catastrophe in the making. We affirm the science of climate change, commit to significantly reducing the pollution that causes climate change, and know we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.” Despite the solidification of evidence that global warming does exist, the economy has greatly declined, calling for a different tone when addressing the issue. Politicians need to be far more conscious of the effect that renewable energy will have on the taxpayers now than they did when global warming was first recognized as a concern. What hasn’t changed is the Party’s dedication to clean energy. The 2008 platform stated, “We are committed to getting at least 25 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2025,” and this goal is still on the Democratic agenda.
Democratic Initiatives On Global Warming
Recently, the Democratic Party has taken several initiatives to reduce global warming and improve environmental conditions. The Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency have issued new fuel-economy standards under the Obama Administration. These mark the first meaningful increases in fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks in decades. Furthermore, President Obama instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to take steps to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, reducing carbon pollution 30% from 2005 levels by 2030 on the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States. Since 2009, the use of solar power has increased by twenty times and the amount of electricity produced by wind power has tripled. President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan to reduce the harmful effects of climate change in June of 2013. Possibly most importantly, President Obama announced a landmark agreement with China to work together to reduce carbon pollution in the next 15 years in November of 2014.
Global Warming And Voters
Global warming could become a hot-button election issue. Whereas in the past voters have seen it as important but not at the top of their priority list, today more voters see it as a heavy issue. A recent poll conducted by Yale University found that registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a congressional or presidential candidate who supports action to reduce global warming. Furthermore, registered voters are 3 times more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes action to reduce global warming. While this does not impact the Democratic race all that much, it could mean a lot for which Republican candidate the Democratic nominee is heading off against. A recent poll by Stanford University, The New York Times, and environmental nonprofit Resources for the Future showed that almost half of Republican voters are more likely to vote for a candidate that believes global warming is occurring and takes a proactive approach to stopping it. These findings are surprising, considering that a New York Times poll conducted with CBS in September of 2014 showed that 42 percent of Republicans considered global warming to be an environmental problem “that won’t have a serious impact.” A poll by Yale University also revealed a rift between Republican voters and their political representatives on these issues. Only 1 in 3 Republicans surveyed stated that they agree with their Party’s stance on climate change and about 1 in 2 agreed with the Party’s stance on how to meet the country’s energy needs. A large majority of those surveyed also stated that they felt their elected representatives were unresponsive to their views on this issue. These factors all add up, and could yield interesting results in the upcoming elections.
Democrats Vs. Republicans On Global Warming
Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to express concern about global warming or to state that the issue is important to them. In the poll conducted by Stanford University and the New York Times, 63 percent of Democrats said the issue of global warming was very or extremely important to them personally. In contrast, only 40 percent of independents and 18 percent of Republicans said the same. The majority of respondents that stated they believed the government should be doing more in regards to climate change were Democrats, with 91 percent of Democrats overall stating that the government should be taking some form of action regarding climate change. In contrast, only 51 percent of Republicans said the same. In 2014, President Barack Obama proposed a series of Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. The Republican Party has viewed these efforts as a “war on coal” and has adamantly opposed them.
Barack Obama On Global Warming
President Obama has headed many of the recent Democratic initiatives to reduce fossil fuel use, develop clean energy, and protect the environment. In 2013, Obama stated, “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” in regards to this generation’s obligation to slow global warming and develop clean energy initiatives. Obama believes not only that climate change is real, but that the consequences of not acting now are too high to take that risk.
Hillary Clinton On Global Warming
Hillary Clinton is a believer in climate change, as well as a believer in initiatives to stop it. “The science of climate change is unforgiving, no matter what the deniers may say, sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting, storms, droughts and wildfires are wreaking havoc,” Clinton stated at an event. She then went on to say, “The political challenges are also unforgiving, there is no getting around the fact the kind of ambitious response required to effectively combat climate change is going to be a tough sell at home and around the world at a time when so many countries including our own are grappling with slow growth and stretched budgets.” However, despite these political challenges, Clinton still believes that action needs to be taken, stating, “If we act decisively now we can still head off the most catastrophic consequences.”
Andrew Cuomo On Global Warming
Andrew Cuomo is also a strong believer in global warming and in heading off its consequences before it’s too late. In regards to the major damaging storms that the northeast has seen over the last several years, Cuomo stated, “there is a pattern of extreme weather that we’ve never seen before,” and that “anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns is probably denying reality.” Cuomo believes that, despite the naysayers that believe that colder winters must mean that global warming is not real, the weather events that keep occurring are evidence that action needs to be taken sooner rather than later. Weather is not climate, he believes, and that global warming could actually cause more blizzards.
- Most Republicans Say They Back Climate Action, Poll Finds – The New York Times
- ENVIRONMENT – Democrats.org
- A National Survey of Republicans and Republican-‐Leaning Independents on Energy and Climate Change – The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication
- How Democrats have shifted on climate, energy since 2008 – The Washington Post
- Cutting Carbon Pollution in America – The White House
- Hillary Clinton: Climate changing ‘no matter what deniers may say’ – The Hill
- New York governor says massive storms are ‘part of the changing climate’ – The Guardian
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