Climate Change – Whose problem is it?

Climate change is a important world issue that affects every human on an intimately interconnected and holistic level. However, instead of a being reported as a legitimate cause of national and, frankly, international significance, the media often downplays the effects of global warming, or refuses to address the truth surrounding it in an intelligent and instructive way. Maybe this is due to political sponsorship or ownership of the largest media publications, or the fact that people just don’t care about it at all, or are too afraid to accept the realities of our deteriorating planet, which for the media and journalists, would mean low viewership/readership and circulation.

However, recent news (told here by the Huffington Post) has come out that the world’s largest investors are calling for climate change action. Contrary to the actions of two of the nation’s most powerful men, President Obama, and Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney, these illustrious investors, who cumulatively manage assets of over $22.5 trillion, are tackling the issue of climate change head on. The alliance of institutional investors claim that the investments and retirement savings of millions of people are being jeopardized because governments are delaying tougher emissions cuts or more generous support for greener energy.

Do you think that this type of news story, that shows powerful people promoting pro-environmental action, will help people become more involved in delaying, and ultimately stopping climate change? Or perhaps, do you think that this story will alienate the majority of the public because it focuses on very rich groups and individuals, and therefore have the opposite effect where people end up thinking that climate change is not the responsibility of everyone, but just a privileged few?

Also, this New York Times story claims that the CIA has closed its climate change office. The unit, since its inception in 2009, has come under fire from some several notable politicians, mainly Republicans, of whom claim that the CIA’s main priority should be preventing terrorism and keeping American’s safe, and that the existence of a climate change office would distract from that responsibility. Senator John Barasso, a republican of Wyoming, states that the climate change office was “unnecessary, wasteful and totally out of place.”

What kind of message do you think the CIA and politicians are spreading when they are making these kinds of messages about the environment? As the CIA is a hugely influential organization, what kind of effects can it’s abandonment of climate change as a priority, have on the public? Also, the story provides no quotes or oppositional stance against the closing of the climate change office. Do you think it is fair for an environmental story, or really any kind of story, to present just one side of such a politically and emotionally charged issue?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!



8 Responses to “Climate Change – Whose problem is it?”

  1. BTW, this is for next week (when we return for Thanksgiving). I just thought I’d post it earlier in case any of you guys had lots of work over the break.


  2. I find it kind of alarming that some people are still not concerned about climate change. Maybe they don’t believe the science, maybe they don’t think it will affect them, maybe they really just don’t care. People who think they shouldn’t worry about climate change because it’s too far off to affect them are wrong. Climate change doesn’t only mean warmer temperatures. It also means more powerful storms, which can have devastating impacts on communities (Hurricane Sandy anyone?).

    I think it’s important for the world’s largest investors to become involved with this issue. People don’t always listen to the man on a soap box standing on a corner, preaching to anyone within earshot about yet another problem we need to deal with. However, when the bigger players start to speak up as well, people begin to listen more closely. Powerful people promoting an issue can have the potential to engage more people and bring about awareness of this issue. Maybe I’m too hopeful, but I’d like to see an increase in action towards a more sustainable future resulting from the sort of news story such as the Huffington Post article.

    Great post Neil. I think this is a really important issue that shouldn’t be ignored. Maybe Obama and Romney were too busy debating the economy to discuss climate change, but hopefully something will be done about it soon.

  3. Great post Neil! I think it’s really important that individuals, especially those with the financial means to make a difference, are taking notice of environmental issues/climate change and the ramifications of continuing with “business as usual.” Since government hasn’t, in my opinion, strongly pursued climate change solutions, individuals must take the lead. I don’t think that this type of news story will alienate the majority. I agree with Jenna that a powerful, high profile individual’s endorsement of an issue can impact the involvement of others. And it’s true, that climate change consequences threaten investments worldwide (in a variety of different sectors). While I think it’s important for these powerful individuals to push the government toward more sustainable solutions and powerful climate change legislation, these individuals should also be leading by example, or put their money where their mouth is. Beyond asking for change, they have the power to create some of these changes by investing in renewable energy and have the opportunity to strengthen the green energy industry. Perhaps, by doing this, they will also encourage other financially powerful people and companies to do the same. Then, when governments realize that renewable energy is not only efficient, but lucrative and job-creating, they will finally make significant changes to our nation’s energy infrastructure.

  4. I really enjoyed reading the Huffington Post article. I think it’s important for the media to focus on groups and individuals who are working to affect climate change. It’s good to finally read something positive about this issue in the news.

    I believe that people with a lot of money will have a great influence over governments and the policies they choose to pursue. Because these investors demonstrated the importance of climate policy, more government officials may be open to stricter regulations. I don’t think the article would alienate any readers. However, I think some readers may be led to believe that you must be rich and powerful to make any substantial changes. It may undercut the value of small, yet important actions that one can do everyday to help reduce carbon emissions, such as buying food locally, recycling, or walking/riding a bike whenever possible.

  5. When I think of climate change, and educating people about climate change, I often find myself discouraged because it really is the people on top, the largest international investors, who have the power for change. I think one of the largest problems is that people do not believe that their smaller actions can make a difference and that their small efforts are nothing in comparison to what is going on elsewhere in the world on a larger scale. Yes, we can turn off lights and recycle, but what about the enormous factories all over the world that are emitting tons of pollutants each day? For this reason, I think that it is encouraging for everyone to see that these large powers are aware of the consequences of their actions and are motivated to do something about it. Hopefully their efforts will result in additional interest and determination of the people to also do good.

    In regards to the CIA, I didn’t even know they had a climate change office! Although it is a very highly influential organization, I’m not sure that the closing of their environmental office will have a large effect on the people. I think that most people rely on scientists and advocates for information on the Environment. This does not mean that the government should stand idly by. The government should definitely support research and programs, but maybe it really isn’t the place of the CIA to be over involved in that area.

  6. When I first read that the CIA was doing work on climate change, I was a little taken aback. I wouldn’t automatically place weather and environment in their realm of duties. However, the more I read of the New York Times story, I realized that there are many ways that foreign affairs relate to climate change here in the United States. For example, people coming in from other countries might be bringing toxic substances with them that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and furthermore, intoxicating our environment.

    Even though I was able to piece together how the CIA makes sense to handle climate change, I agree with various opinions in the article that this particular government agency is not the most efficient one to take on this issue. Dangers posed to our country and its people via terrorists are real and possible, but I don’t think they it is the primary goal of terrorists to sully our environment. It is to destroy things and people immediately. If I am accurate on that point, and only if so, I think it was the proper move to close the CIA’s climate change office. I say so, because the responsibilities and work were not eliminated–they were simply reassigned. Going by this, I am confident that the matters will continue to be addressed and that climate change is still an important focus of our country’s environmental agencies.

  7. The huffington post was a nice read, and I appreciate Neil showing us the “Green” section of the HP since I didn’t know that it existed. I think this story is inclusive in its intentions. It presents a lot of information that is new/technical but well explained for the average reader. I do not believe that it diffuses the blame of climate change from the average consumer to just large companies. It highlights contributing factors behind climate change while also reminded readers of their own role in climate change.

    One thing that this class has taught me is to pay attention to bias journalism and one sided stories. The CIA article was eye opening because I wasn’t even aware of the CIA Climate Change office, and the article left out any work that the office did do. It focused primarily on the things the office did not do, or what other agencies were responsible for certain roles in climate change investigation. The article would have more interesting with a quote from a worker in the office who lost a job and talked about the importance of the work that was being done.

  8. I think the most important thing when it comes to tackling any issue is education. People need to be more aware of the problem before they can make a difference to stop it; and that applied to both individuals and giant companies. I also wasn’t aware that the CIA had an office for Climate Change, but I think this just goes along with the idea that we all need to be more aware on the issue, on any issue for that matter. I agree with Kirsten that the article, however, did a poor job of explaining what the office does. How can the public become concerned with an issue that’s supposed to be important if no one is telling them what their government is doing to address it?

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