Response to Promp 2, Week 2: Environmental Democracy

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                Americans criticize the United States government on a daily basis on whether or not progress is being made in all areas of government. Even individuals who voted for Obama in the hopes of achieving his notion of “change” and “forward” dispute many of the policies that have come about during his presidency. What people do not realize is that progress, including environmental policy, has been made throughout Obama’s presidency. According to Obama’s Climate of Action Plan, in 2012, “Carbon emissions from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades.” The problem is that people do not believe what they cannot see.

                The same way that humans do not trust what they cannot physically see, people are afraid to take risks when they are not sure of the consequences that these actions may bring. In one of our readings, Colin Hay states, “One is that short electoral timespans significantly disadvantage ecological imperatives.” Presidents focus on issues that they will be credited for during their presidency. Environmental problems, however, tend to be resolved in longer periods of time. Politicians use the precautionary principle when they make decisions for our country (especially because of the economic loss that may result from unfavorable decisions). Since we are not sure of the consequences that may arise from actions taken to help the environment, politicians tend to refrain from making these choices. However, would this be considered avoiding precaution since we know the consequences of NOT taking these actions? Obama’s plan of action for long term goals seems to coincide with this perspective.

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One response »

  1. I am in agreement with your viewpoint that politicians tend to take a more conservative approach when implementing environmental policies because they are unsure of the final economic impact of these policies. Personally, I believe that politicians need to shift away from using the precautionary principle in the majority of their decisions and instead support environmental policies that they know have the highest chance of generating positive results with little economic loss. With rapid population growth, is becoming apparent that our environment is and has been at severe risk. If presidents choose to make short term decisions based on image rather than taking the most informed risks they can regarding environmental policy, they are throwing away many potential opportunities for progress. I also agree with the idea that we are actually avoiding precaution by choosing to not take action. In my opinion, the potential damage done by refraining from implementing environmental policies outweighs the potential economic damage of these policies. I thought your post was very insightful and brought up several important and relevant points. Great job!

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