Everywhere I look in the news I see things that mention or talk about climate change. And that’s been going on for awhile now, and even more so with the recent election. Climate change is a huge issue to voters and many people around the world. I feel like I have heard politicians for years talking about what they will do for climate change, and how will they fix it. So it’s still very concerning and interesting to me to figure out why it’s still such a big topic. Has nothing been done about it yet? Do politicians just say things about it to get elected, but don’t actually take any action? If we are talking about it being a problem, why hasn’t it been fixed?
This is what I tried to focus my research upon. What factors are making climate change difficult to fix? My only thought originally about this issue was that people say it’s a problem, so we have to fix it. But I really didn’t even break the surface of the factors people have to weigh. I took a more simplistic approach originally thinking that the US has a lot of money available to spend so we should fix it ourselves if we have to. I didn’t really think about how much of an important role the rest of the world plays and how nothing can really be done without them.
The first factor that is pretty clear right away is money. Obviously fixing climate change isn’t something that’s going to come inexpensively. “Switching from fossil fuels to low-carbon sources of energy will cost $44 trillion between now and 2050, according to a report released this week by the International Energy Agency”(Bullis). Fossil fuels are one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which leads to climate change. The best way to fix that is to switch to cleaner energy, which is a lot more expensive. The problem is weighing whether or not something like that is actually worth the investment. People have to trust that it’s actually going to work and make a difference and see if they get something out of it. It’s difficult to predict exactly if something like this is worth spending money on, and if the results will be equal to or better than what you put into it. That itself gives some leaders things to worry about before they go ahead and spend a massive amount of money on something.
The next big factor is global participation. Like I mentioned before, fixing climate change is not something that only falls on the shoulders of the US. This is a problem for everyone in the world. What leaders of countries are asking themselves now is whether or not it’s worth it to spend money if nobody else participates along with them? If for example the US and a few other industrialized nations participate and nobody else does, what difference does that really make? Countries in Africa are surely not going to do anything because climate change is pretty dead last on their list of concerns. And many countries economies rely heavily on fossil fuels, so there is little to no chance they are going to switch over to clean energy. What leaders of superpower countries like the US want is for everybody to agree to some form of participation before they go ahead and spend any money.
Another concern taken into consideration is what regulations will do to jobs in many countries. Lot’s of large oil and gas companies across the world are putting many greenhouse gases into the air. A 2013 article in The Guardian states that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions”(Goldenberg). The truth is that to try and stop that sort of production of greenhouse gases, the government is going to have to impose regulations on those companies. Which a lot of economists can see as dangerous to the economy and to jobs. The worry is that if these companies are regulated upon, then they might possibly move jobs to countries that don’t regulate them. And along with that move, go a lot of national jobs. No president or heads of state want to be the reason for thousands of jobs moving to a different country.
The final and maybe biggest reason that nothing has gotten done is because we are really selfish people. As we’ve seen on the news and other media, most people agree that climate change is a problem. But the truth is that nobody want’s to actually spend their money or do things that actually help the cause. And I get it, it’s not easy. I personally think climate change needs to be fixed, but when I really think about it, am I willing to do something about it? “….Climate policy asks the present to sacrifice for the future. Human beings tend not to be very good at that kind of planning…When it comes to climate change, the worst effects will be felt years after many people today are long gone. From a self-centered perspective, that makes strict climate policy like saving for a retirement you know you’ll never live to see”(Walsh). It’s a tough sell to people to buy something that they aren’t going to get any of the benefits from, which is sort of like what paying for climate change is.
I think that the selfishness that we all have is really the first obstacle that needs to be overcome. Along with that though, as you can see, there are many things that have to be taken into consideration and many other things that have to be done before climate change can be fixed. And I really hope those things can be done because it will become a real problem if this issue keeps getting pushed off to future generations. Because before we know it might be too late to actually do something and make a difference.
Bullis, Kevin. “How Much Will It Cost to Solve Climate Change?” MIT Technology
Review, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 15 May 2014,
Goldenberg, Suzanne. “Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global
warming emissions.” The Guardian, 20 Nov. 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/
Walsh, Bryan. “Why We Don’t Care About Saving Our Grandchildren From Climate
Change.” TIME, 21 Oct. 2013, science.time.com/2013/10/21/