May 21, 2021
In hopes of leaving a footprint in history larger than that of their respective carbon footprints, 40 foreign leaders along with American officials met in a two-day summit to implement green policies globally. These policies differ drastically from country to country, but domestically, President Biden promises to reduce carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and to be carbon-neutral by 2050.
According to AP Government and Politics teacher Ms. Chaudhry, “the Biden administration is doing far more than people even expected. They are making commitments that are competitive to other industrialized nations around the world. […] I do think the Biden administration is doing a lot. I mean there’s pieces in there about job creation, […] making those transitions about the environment […] [and] to immigration. So I think it’s very comprehensive and a great move in the right direction.”
Biden’s plan is exactly that: a move in the right direction, but not a perfect solution. According to the United Nations, global leaders and citizens only have ten years left to save the planet from irreversible damage. These effects include rising sea levels, an increase in hurricanes, forced migration, rising temperatures, forest fires, drought, increased respiratory diseases and cancers, and thousands of others consequences. These effects will primarily affect poorer areas and minority communities. For example, with rising sea levels, housing costs will inevitably rise, and those who cannot afford it will be forced to face the deadly effects of natural disasters.
At the forefront of the fight against climate change is a drastic shift in American foreign policy from the Trump administration to the Biden administration. In stark contrast to Trump’s withdrawal from global climate agreements, the Biden administration has shown a keen interest in participating and leading the world in implementing green policies. Domestically, this includes major investments in cleaner energies like wind, solar, and nuclear reactors. Globally, this includes the US joining a coalition with Britain and Norway and several corporations like Nestlé, Unilever, Amazon, and Salesforce to subsidize the protection of forests in countries such as Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The climate summit similarly encouraged developed nations like Canada and Japan to agree to become carbon neutral by 2050 and developing nations like India to install significant portions of renewable energy by 2030.
The shift in the private sector from coal to green energy poses a massive threat to millions of working class Americans. Ms. Klotz, the ninth-grade biology teacher, best summarized these concerns: “We have to support our citizens and our nation if we think we’re going to change the way we do business.”
Ms. Schwab, the Green team sponsor and AP Biology teacher expressed a similar sentiment, explaining that a major way to restore trust in the government is to invest in community ecology projects that allow their members to see positive change in their own communities.
Ms. Klotz also stressed the importance of seeing the effects of environmentalism and receiving a proper education, stating that the global populace must have a thorough exposure to environmental and scientific ideas in order to prevent negative responses to common-sense environmental policies.
Biden’s fight for unity and protection of the environment has been fought and won before. Theodore Roosevelt created the National Parks Service. Later his cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, organized the Civilian Conservation Corps which stimulated the economy during the Great Depression and created key environmental structures that are used to this date. Contemporary presidents like John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama have similarly implemented crucial policies, like supporting the anti-DDT movement after the publication of Silent Spring, creating important agencies and programs like Superfund, which cleaned hazardous mines and factories, creating FEMA, which responds to natural disasters, as well as signing the Paris Climate Accord.
Biden follows in the footsteps of great Americans but his legacy truly depends on if he can live up to their standards. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once stated, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.”