Why Is ‘The Environment’ a Polarizing Political Issue?
As I was looking through some of the posts here on The Environmental Blog, the question popped into my head: “Why is the environment a polarizing political issue?”
In our political system in the United States we really have only two parties, the democrats and the republicans. But if you view the party system on a linear graph or chart there are a lot of people in the middle with varying degrees of beliefs and convictions.
Nevertheless, the election cycle thus far for the US President in 2012 has proven to be polarizing in regards to the environment. But why does it have to be this way? Science is all about observing our natural environment and making logical determinations based on those observations of hypothesis and studies. Why is it that mainstream republicans denounce the environment in such a way as to dismiss it as unimportant? In this tweet from Mitt Romney, he denounces current President Barack Obama for taking a stance against major polluters and contributors to greenhouse gases that are accelerating climate change.
Mitt Romney’s plan for energy independence by 2020 involves getting there by utilizing every last drop of fossil fuel – even if that means fracking for shale oil and gas. On the contrary, Barack Obama is proud to tweet about doubling renewable energy in the United States.
Most Democrats agree that fossil fuel use needs to wane and that alternative clean energies need to take over in order for society to transition to a cleaner energy system that won’t contribute to pollution or climate change.
I personally believe that the environment shouldn’t be taken for granted in such a way that consuming it’s resources in an unsustainable way will lead to the destruction of future generations. It seems like a logical way of thinking considering that if humanity continues on the current path, there literally will not be a humanity in the future because of resource depletion and environmental destruction. Scientists have been sounding the alarm for years, but twitter is a great place to gauge where we are now…
Back to Politics and The Environment
How will humanity solve all of these pressing environmental issues? Political leaders have to be able to communicate to people that the environment is a worthy and just cause. The best way they can do that is arming themselves with statistics and studies from science that prove continuing on the current path is unsustainable. Without science, politicians will continue to maintain the status quo and nothing will be done to protect what environment and resources we have left. We need leaders who understand that future generations depend on environmental policies enacted by the world’s governments of today. That is why it is extremely important for environmental conferences like Rio+20 to bring together the world’s leaders to collaborate on effective solutions to mitigate global disaster as our best chance of preserving our future.
Unfortunately, the world is faced with globalization, greedy multinationals, and destructive competition. We see evidence of this by looking at growth in developing China and the oil rich Middle East.
One would gather from the trending headlines that the world’s superpowers, or countries with lots of spare money, are trying to secure the last known resources on Earth to supply their addiction for unsustainable ‘growth’. It’s easy to see that this type of modern day land-grabbing (we call foreign investments) could potentially lead to international resource wars. It’s not hard to come to that conclusion when leading Middle Eastern media giant Al Jazeera published an op-ed titled: “The corporate scramble for Africa”
Bringing it Back To Politics: The core principles republicans claim to stand for include less government, less taxes, and they appear to be generally anti-environment as a means to achieve less taxes and less government. For republicans, the less government red-tape there is, the more money corporations can make from fossil fuels and other environmentally destructive corporations. The more tax breaks they give to millionaires and billionaires, at the expense of effectively raising taxes on the poor and middle class, the more money goes into corporations (some of them destructive, but obviously not all them). Mitt Romney clearly only cares about corporations, because after all “Corporations are people, my friend.”
I can understand that businesses, including small, mid, and oversized corporations, are an important fabric of our society. I understand that our entire existence is interdependent on a global economy, trade, and the market conditions of supply and demand. However, I don’t understand why the republicans of today can’t compromise on the environment like the republicans of yester-years.
Mitt Romney can be as anti-environment as he wants to be, that’s an American right, but he sure doesn’t have my vote and the question still begs to be asked: Why is the environment a polarizing issue? What do you guys think?
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