The United States Government needs to do more to combat climate change

I believe that we cannot be considered one of the great countries until our leaders stop neglecting the well-being of our planet.


by Carmon Baker, Staff Writer

For a year in middle school, a week rarely went by without my history teacher exclaiming, “America, the greatest country on Earth!” when referring the United State’s militaristic power or technological advancements. However, I have always had an issue with this idea. It is true—we have a strong military and our citizens are guaranteed numerous rights. But how can we consider ourselves a great country if our government is ignoring what I believe to be one of the most pressing international issues—climate change? In my opinion, the United States government needs to implement more laws in order to combat climate change if we want to be considered one of the great countries in the world.

I believe that we have to be able to set an example for other countries around the world in order to logically consider ourselves one of the great countries. However, we are not meeting this standard. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, there are a few laws imposed by the Executive Branch to help regulate climate change. For example, the Clean Air Act mandates the collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency and states to lower greenhouse gas emissions. I think that laws like this are too broad. They need to be more specific in order to truly implement climate change reform, like in Norway. According to The Guardian, in 2016, an initiative was approved by the Norwegian parliament which lays out a plan to reach “climate neutrality” by 2030 and reduce their carbon emissions. The fact that they have a specific plan, I believe, will make accomplishing their goals easier and more efficient.

Not only is our country ignoring the pressing issue of climate change, but they are also taking steps backward, in my opinion. The United States is the only country in the world that is not a part of the Paris Agreement, an international agreement that works to combat climate change around the world. The United States was one of the original participants in the agreement, but we have recently backed out. Quite honestly, it makes me think our leaders do not care about what the people think. According to a 2018 study from Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context, 62 percent of Americans think the government needs to do more to protect the environment, yet they are still, I believe, ignoring these people.

The first step to implementing more climate change reform in the United States is for our government to rejoin the Paris Agreement and show that we are truly interested in stopping climate change. Other initiatives and laws are also important, like nationwide taxes on carbon dioxide pollution or zero deforestation acts.

As citizens, there are things we can do to push our government towards more climate change reform. For those who are old enough to vote, supporting local and national measures is an option. If you are under 18, you can participate in protests and write letters to make sure your voice is heard. Walking or carpooling to and from events is a great way to reduce carbon emissions. Personally, I always try to carpool to sports practices or social events with my friends.

It is very clear to me that the United States can and should be following the example of countries who have already implemented climate change reform and be setting an example for those who have not. Most importantly, our government cannot logically continue to insist that we are one of the great and powerful countries of the world, while, at the same time, they are ignoring what I see as one of the most pressing issues in today’s society.