environmental policy

Storming the White House: Environmental Policy and Election Fever

Before I begin my idealistic musings that I am known to do, I feel a

brief introduction is due. Admittedly, I am new to the blogging
community. The founder and administrator of this
particular blog extended the offer to me several months ago to
occasionally contribute an opinion piece or article, and I felt
obliged to accept the offer (graciously, of course). Also
admittedly, I come from a slightly “left-of-center” American
ideology, but by no means do I feel any particular fondness to
political parties or factions. My studies focused on politics and
history, and are now moving into the realm of law and international
affairs. Until recently, most of my writing has been dry “here are
the statistics” articles due to constraints, but I am looking forward
to an outlet for editorial writing. So if you will indulge me, I will
be glad to try to weave my brand of cynical, sarcastic, and dry humor
into comprehensible editorials for the readers to (hopefully) enjoy.

So now, here is my first blog entry:

Storming the White House: Environmental Policy and Election Fever

The direction of American politics within the past few years has left
a particularly unattractive stain on the country’s image, leaving
countless young observers (such as myself) feeling disconnected from
their leadership. In an age where mentioning global warming can sink
a political campaign, is there any reason to hold faith in the two
party system? Bi-partisanship has been abandoned, the political mood
is schizophrenic as ever, and the American public continues to vote
along the same path as a pendulum. In the past few days, the “super
storm” that raged through the east coast exposed the inconsistencies
in right-wing rhetoric on environmental policy, and perhaps shaped
the political careers of several men.
In the face of Hurricane Sandy, climate change has been brought into
the spotlight once again. While it is absurd to say the hurricane
was caused by global warming (these things have been happening longer
than humans could even put a physical foot print on Earth), it is
hard to deny that global warming did not intensify the storm. Scientists
and journalists have been debating the issue for the past few days, and
the verdict was relatively unanimous – climate change is impacting the
severity of tropical storms.

The idea environmental protection and global warming as a partisan
issue is, in fact, relatively new to the political field. Until Al Gore’s
infamous film, it was indeed the Republican Party that took the greatest
measures towards protecting the environment.

This leads me to wonder – what happened to the “Grand” Old Party?

Republican president Theodore Roosevelt was perhaps one of the
greatest conservationists of all time. It was under his leadership
that the Newlands Reclamation Act of 1902 was passed, along with
creating the United States Forest Service, and coining the slogan
“Conservation as a National Duty.”

As much pain as it causes me to praise this man, it was President
Nixon that first proposed the creation of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), which went into effect in 1970. It is worth
noting that recent Republic rhetoric has called for the dissolution
of the EPA. It is also worth noting that since the creation of this
agency, we have stopped catching rivers on fire. I have very little
expertise in chemistry, but I am fairly certain water is not
inherently flammable.

What may come as a shock to many is that Ronald Reagan, the
conservative icon, acknowledged the existence of climate change. In
fact, he created a board on the NSA for the purpose of researching
ways of dealing with a potential climate change. However, he also
made it a point to distance himself from the environmental policies
of Jimmy Carter by slashing the EPA’s budget, and removing the White
House’s solar panels in a silly symbolic gesture.

With Hurricane Sandy’s effects on the next administration in mind, it
may be noted that the true victor was Chris Christie. In a
controversial move to back President Obama’s response to the storm,
Governor Christie has emerged as a symbol of bi-partisanship, a
national hero, and possibly the future of the Republican Party. It
may very well be that Christie is the genuine article, responding
decisively to a crisis, but the Machiavellian in me leads me to
believe there may be more to the story. As American voters are known
to operate like a pendulum, it is likely President Obama will be in
office for another four years (apologies, Mr. Romney), and the
American public will swing back to the right for a 2016 Republican
president. However, if President Romney is elected, Governor Christie
will have to wait likely another eight years, by which time Americans
may swing to the left yet again. Whether he intended to harm the
Romney campaign by supporting President Obama in a time of crisis or
not, it should be interesting to see how this man’s career will play
out.

In an era where bi-partisanship is scorned and environmental
protection is seen as un-American, it is difficult to have faith in
our elected leaders. This is usually the point in an article where
the writer urges the reader to “get out there and vote,” leaving the
reader with a warm, wrapped in an American flag blanket feeling, but
I cannot write that without a laugh. If the past few decades have
been any indication, politics will continue at a lackluster pace, and
any change made will be incremental and insufficient. Most changes
are purely symbolic. The most significant environmental move made by
the Obama administration was to re-install the solar panels on the
roof of the White House. The election, only a few days away, will
show whether or not the panels will remain for four more years.

This article has been written by My Spin on Things newest writer, Logan Holmes.