Term Paper: Global Warming and International Relations the Environment

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Global Warming and International Relations

The environment and its cleanliness are vitally important for the survival of the human race. This is true in the United States, and in other countries all over the world. Because it is such an important concern, one would think that the main goal of the current administration would be to take care of the environment to ensure that it was clean and healthy for future generations, and to set a good example for the rest of the world. This would be the most logical scenario. However, there have been some recent occurrences which have caused many people to call into question the motives of the Bush administration and the President's stance on the environment, pollution, and foreign policy.

While this particular paper will not involve an in-depth discussion of the Bush administration, some of what this administration has done and is currently doing is important for an understanding of what all is taking place where the environment, and specifically Global Warming, is concerned. Global warming is a serious issue that many people have ignored for some time. There are those that believe in it very strongly, and there are others that assume it is a problem that scientists with time on their hands have made up to frighten society. Those that do not believe in global warming as a serious threat must begin to pay more attention to the issue, because it is real and it is not going to go away on its own.

Before the issue of global warming specifically is addressed, however, some of how it got started and remained a problem must be addressed, and for that the focus will turn briefly to the Bush administration and how it has relaxed rules and changed regulations for the EPA, which has in turn caused harm to the environment. Clean air and water is the most pressing issue for the future of the entire world, not just the United States, and the changes in regulations have caused many to believe that foreign policy and setting a good example through what the United States is doing has become unimportant to the Bush administration. The following information will show that there are many issues that Bush must address when it comes to the environment, and it is vital that he do so now, so that the EPA can continue to do its job with efficiency and so that other countries will see the importance of keeping pollution out of the air and water, as all of these kinds of problems contribute to dangerous issues such as global warming.

One of the main concerns that many have with the Bush administration with regard to the environment is that President Bush has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty which was designed to aid all countries in working together to help prevent global warming. Bush stated that, since it could not be said for sure how people's actions affect global warming, how much it will increase in the future, and whether there is really anything that can be done about it, the treaty would not work and there was no reason to sign it. Some think that this approach makes sense, but many believe that Bush did not sign the Kyoto Protocol because the United States is the most polluting country in the world and the Protocol would restrict its actions too much, therefore taking away some of the freedoms that the United States has enjoyed in the past and upsetting people who desire that freedom (Bingaman and Inhofe, 2002, 48).

Whatever the reason, the refusal to sign will cause international repercussions and strain relations with other countries. This will affect foreign policy, possibly for years to come, and could cause difficulties with other countries, namely Japan. There is speculation that Bush refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol because Japan did not seem overly interested in becoming involved in the joint missile defense plan that Bush had talked with them about. If Bush does not sign the protocol, Japan has indicated that it may not sign either. This being the case, the other European nations that have signed the Protocol do not have enough ratification by other countries to make the Protocol binding on an international level (Seremban, 2001, 85). This will affect not only the environment in the United States, but the environment globally, as well as the foreign policy between many different countries.

Bush sees fatal flaws in the Kyoto Protocol and states that it sets goals that are unrealistic and will be doomed to failure. However, despite these allegations both Britain and China have substantially reduced the amount of pollution that they release into the air and water under the restrictions of the Protocol. During the same time period, the pollution levels for the United States continued to climb (Seremban, 2001, 91). It is clear that something must be done to stop the extent of pollution in the United States, as it damages not only that country but the rest of the world as well. The concern from other countries, and from many in the United States, is that the Bush administration is not looking at long-term goals and consequences. Instead, they are concerning themselves only with what is happening immediately and are not looking to the future of their country and the rest of the world. By the time that they do, some fear that it will be too late.

Besides the Kyoto Protocol, another reason that there has been so much concern over foreign policy and environmental issues is that Bush has relaxed or eliminated many of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that have been in place for countless years. All of these rules were working well and helping to keep the air and water safe, but now many of them have been changed or removed, resulting in increased pollution and dangers for the country and its supplies of natural resources.

An editorial in a New York newspaper discussed this problem, and indicated that the EPA has recently dropped their on-going investigations into no less than 50 United States power plants that were thought to be violating the Clean Air Act. This was not done because these power plants were found innocent, but because the Bush administration changed the rules and guidelines. Because of this, and because Bush says he is looking for cost-effective ways of keeping pollution down, the power plants in question, and all other as well, will not be judged by the old rules, but only by new ones that took effect in December of 2003 (This, 2003, 22). These new guidelines are more relaxed than the old ones were, and therefore the contributions to global warming will continue to climb.

This means that these plants that have been violating the Clean Air Act for years will no longer have to worry about it, because they will likely be acceptable under the relaxed rules, and all of their past transgressions will be forgotten. This is good for them, certainly, from a criminal and financial standpoint, but it is bad for everyone else. All of the pollution that these plants have created has already been released into the world, and now they will not even be punished for it. Interestingly enough, representatives from power plants and the utility industry have been among some of the largest donors to President Bush and his campaign.

The new rules now allow for companies that would have to spend a lot of money to add pollution controls to be exempt from this process, provided that the modernization upgrades that they made which led to the need for new pollution controls cost 20% of the plant's total value or less. Because of this, many plants will continue to pollute, and there is nothing that the EPA can do about it. Their hands are also tied in 38 states that have controls that go farther than the federal controls (This, 2003, 28). Whether the states are good at enforcing these controls is irrelevant. Once again, there is nothing that the EPA can do.

This is frustrating to many who work to protect the environment, because the new regulations will allow for increases in many dangerous chemicals including nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, as well as soot. Many studies have already proven that these chemicals, as well as other pollutants, as detrimental to health. This is especially true of children, the elderly, and people that have breathing problems such as asthma and emphysema (Polluter, 2003, 47). The health effects are not the only concern with Bush's new change in rules, as there are many indications that the policy is also bad from an economic standpoint.

In the ten years between 1992 and 2002, the United States spent an estimated $23-26 billion dollars to ensure that it complied with clean air standards and regulations, mostly to help combat global warming. However, during that same time period, the United States also saved somewhere between $120 billion and $193… [END OF PREVIEW]

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