Episode II: A New Hope
A Renewed Urgency for Environmental Issues
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 14:11
My first post-election column is here! Bet you’ll never guess what I am going to write about. Okay, fine you guessed it – the environment is still right there in the front of my mind, as always. In an election that was dominated by a struggling economy, growing government deficit, and social equality issues, the environment turned up right at the end to play a pivotal role.
You know of that which I speak – Hurricane Sandy, of course. According to Grist, 41% of voters said their vote was, to some degree, influenced by the affects wreaked on the eastern seaboard by the superstorm. It is unfortunate that, with all of the other dire environmental situations sitting upon our very doorsteps, a hurricane had to come along to ultimately raise awareness of the issue.
If, at this point, you still have to ask ‘what other dire situations do you speak of?’ then I must sincerely ask you just how large the rock is that you have been living under. With the expiration of wind energy tax credits set to take place on Jan. 1 (a major part of the ‘fiscal cliff’ we hear so much about), the warmest year on record (once again) coming to a close, the arctic ice cap reaching it’s smallest size in recorded history this past summer, the explosion of natural gas fracking across much of the continental United States, and the impending decision on the building of the Keystone pipeline hanging over the President’s head, you would have to be ignorant indeed to not recognize the growing sense of urgency surrounding the environment in this day and age.
With more and more massive storms taking place, with sea level on the rise, with CO2 levels ever climbing, with energy prices skyrocketing, with ground water pollution running rampant, and with Americans ever delaying the day on which they finally turn and face these very real, ever present issues, President Obama and the congressmen and women whom he will work with over the next four years need to begin feeling pressured to address global warming, sustainable energy production, and pollution control as serious, security-breaching and life-threatening issues.
The President will face two pivotal environmental decisions in short order, shortly into his new term. Indeed, the decision to extend the wind energy tax credits must come before his new term even begins. And the decision to block the Keystone pipeline must come shortly after. If the electorate that selected him can convince him of how pivotal these decisions are, and he actually executes them, he can set a tone for his second term that could determine the course of the future for generations to come.
These two issues are the very beginning. From the base of two successful decisions such as these, the President and his grassroots supporters can garner attention for more drastic, possibly more pressing environmental issues. Are you wondering what they are, still? Then you really ought to begin looking into it. And stay tuned – the environment never leaves my column alone for very long.
Nathan is a senior majoring in landscape architecture. Follow him on twitter @nwstottler.