The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Government accountability on climate change

December 9, 2021

Even though President Joe Biden recently made a plan to combat climate change, he has failed to recognize its urgency just like other politicians who have ignored this problem for the last three decades. 

Climate change is the long-term change in the Earth’s temperature and climate pattern, caused primarily by humans with the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

The environment right now is already showing signs of climate change with repercussions. These repercussions include rising temperatures and stronger and more frequent heat waves, floods, storms and droughts. In fact, climate-related disasters increased more than 80% in the last 40 years.

In July of 2019, Alaska hit an all-time high temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Projections show that this rate of climate change could cause irreversible damage as soon as 2030. If this is the case, then why have politicians taken no initiative to combat this problem?

Teacher and advisor of Environmental Club Dr. Lynne Lundberg deeply cares about the environment. “Elected representatives are representing the coal industry, the gas industry and the car industry instead of the people. The consequences of these actions will soon hit our planet very hard,” Lundberg said.

Lundberg made a fair point about politicians supporting big gas companies instead of caring for the future of this planet. The United States subsidizes around $20.5 billion annually to fossil fuel companies. These subsidies keep the prices of fossil fuels low and, in turn, keep the general public more inclined to buy into these substances.

Lundberg also said there has been no change in the past four decades. “As one of the biggest and most advanced nations in the world, it is our job to follow the science and take the necessary steps to make the world safe. When I was in high school in the 70s, I remember giving speeches about the need to convert to the use of solar energy,” Lundberg mentioned.

America has made progressive strides towards technological advancements in the last 40 years, but our shift to renewable energy has stayed the same: very minimal.

Governments all over the world have only started to take action in recent years. Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed the House of Representatives, which allocates $500 billion for clean energy advancement.

Junior Tejus Kanathur looks at this bill with optimism. “Once America takes action, it won’t take long for other countries to follow. This is a really good move to combat climate change because this will help slow it to some extent,” Kanathur voiced.

Lundberg, however, remains cautiously optimistic. “I think the ideas that are being proposed are good ones. However, they don’t go far enough and I worry that we won’t make the progress we need to make because of obstruction by politicians that support these fossil fuel industries,” Lundberg expressed.

Another major event regarding climate change was the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. In this conference, 200 countries were asked to bring about their plans to cut emissions by 2030. The conference has three targets in mind: stop the rising temperature, discuss plans to combat this climate change and ask wealthy countries to help out the poorer countries.

Instead of being viewed as helpful, COP26 is being criticized for including only the big politicians and not including anybody that is actually being affected by these changes, like indigenous leaders from the Amazon and environmental groups. 

The results of how effective COP26 is will be shown in 2030. If the general climate is 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the normal temperature, it will be deemed a failure. If this is deemed a failure, politicians should be taken into blame for not doing enough to help fight climate change in an ever-growing world.

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