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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Do it for the polar bears

    Alex Gutierrez columnist
    Alex Gutierrez

    Many – including myself – believe that the 2000 presidential election was unfairly taken from Al Gore. When 9 appointed justices get to vote twice, it seems as if this is a serious detriment to democracy. But the announcement last week that Al Gore, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “”for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”” more than made up for it.

    As almost everybody now knows, Al Gore has made his mission after “”losing”” the 2000 election to promote education and awareness about the realities of climate change, and to try to bring about a positive change in this very important global crisis. Unfortunately, it seems as if because of his association with the Clinton administration, anything that Al Gore says is bound to be attacked by those who have a personal grudge against the man. Who knew that the near-universal acceptance of climate change science would be so controversial? Despite overwhelming evidence from scientists the world over, there are still those who claim that global warming simply does not exist.

    One such example is Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has claimed that global warming is “”a hoax”” perpetrated by the Weather Channel in an attempt to gain viewers, and that the Environmental Protection Agency is similar to the Gestapo. Sen. Inhofe is the second-highest receiver of oil and gas lobby money in the United States Congress, with money contributed since taking office exceeding $1 million. Could that influence his stance at all? Nah.

    But no matter what politicians may say, climate change shouldn’t be political. It’s not just about protecting our very valuable, dwindling natural resources, but a matter of respecting humanity. Of course, the obvious question is “”what does global warming have to do with peace?”” The answer is very simple: Global warming creates droughts and famine in areas like sub-Saharan Africa. Hit by drought and famine, the most natural thing for people do is to migrate into areas that are more resourceful. These mass migrations can lead to violent competition for the scarce resources available, endangering international peace and security. If the United States is truly as compassionate as the government says we are, and actually stands up for human rights and dignity, doesn’t it follow that we should be doing more to combat the destabilizing force of global warming?

    Few are na’ve or ignorant enough to believe that the United States is the sole producer of greenhouse gases. Indeed, China is set to overtake the U.S. by 2009. However, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to mitigate the effects of global warming. One major step would be to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement setting limits for greenhouse gas emissions. The second would be to stop oil and gas companies from dictating our country’s energy policy. Indeed, a State Department paper from 2005 shows how the Bush administration thanked Exxon executives for their “”active involvement”” in helping to determine climate change policy, including the U.S. stance on Kyoto. It’s ridiculous that companies with such a vested, monetary interest in denying global warming have a hand in dictating this country’s stance toward it.

    Despite the stalling of the Bush administration on the issue of human-induced global warming, or perhaps because of it, many states and cities across the country have worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the country. In fact, in Arizona, Gov. Napolitano signed an executive order calling on the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the 2000 level by the year 2020 and to 50 percent below the 2000 level by 2040. While this doesn’t do much to significantly reduce the emissions of the U.S. as a whole, it is definitely a start. But don’t worry, green-loving, tree-hugging, hybrid-driving hippies – help may soon be on the way. The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer earlier this year, which would start reducing CO2 as well as greenhouse gas emissions. We just have to be hopeful that there aren’t as many senators in line with Inhofe’s way of thinking as with Al Gore’s and Barbara Boxer’s.

    If there is one major lesson taken from Al Gore’s winning the Nobel Prize, it should be this: He was a private citizen when he started his efforts. True, he had more standing as a former vice president, but the fact remains that we as individuals have more of an impact on global warming than we think, and can actively work to help better conditions on Earth. Since Captain Planet hasn’t shown up yet, looks like it’s up to us.

    Alex Gutierrez is a political science senior. He can be reached at

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