Writing Assignment 3
Century Climate Action and Legislative Mandate
ENVS 100-Fall 2009
“I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it’s caused by
mankind or whether it’s caused naturally, but it’s a worthy debate. It’s a debate, actually, that I’m in the
process of solving”- George W. Bush.
So we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere
surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow we will dump a slightly larger amount,
with the cumulative concentrations now trapping more and more heat from the sun."-Al Gore, Nobel Peace
Prize Address, Dec. 10, 2007
“That so many of us are here today is a recognition that the threat from climate change is serious, it is
urgent, and it is growing. Our generation's response to this challenge will be judged by history, for if we
fail to meet it - boldly, swiftly, and together - we risk consigning future generations to an irreversible
catastrophe. No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change.
Rising sea levels threaten every coastline. More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent. More
frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already
thrive. On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees. The
security and stability of each nation and all peoples - our prosperity, our health, our safety - are in
jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out. And yet, we can reverse it. John F.
Kennedy once observed that "Our problems are man-made, therefore they may be solved by man." It is true
that for too many years, mankind has been slow to respond to or even recognize the magnitude of the
climate threat. It is true of my own country as well. We recognize that. But this is a new day. It is a new era.
And I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon
pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.” –President Barack Obama,
Address to the UN Climate Change Summit, September 22, 2009.
The Climate Change Challenge
Climate change has emerged as one of the most pressing and divisive environmental
issues of the early 21
In the past 10 years, many fractures and fault lines have
formed across the volatile policy landscape in terms of how to address this problem, or
whether it is a problem at all.
Many countries have already joined international regimes
such as the Kyoto Treaty, which calls for major reductions in greenhouse gasses and
collaborative action to mitigate and adapt to rapidly shifting climate patterns, rising sea
levels, extreme weather events and threats to global food supplies.
In the United States,
many state and local governments (including the State of California and the City of Santa
Cruz) have developed climate change action plans and are already implementing a variety