Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Ask the Experts: The Environment

How can we protect the environment? Five experts respond.

Hal Harvey Answers:

The threat of climate change is our greatest environmental challenge. But the trend of increasing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is not a fait accompli. A small number of highly effective policies can put us on track for a stable climate and a sustainable energy future. And all are in the self-interest of the nations that adopt them. Consider:

>> Buildings:
Strong building codes can cut energy use by 75 percent—and thereby create an energy bill dividend that pays a steady yield for 50 years or more. But developers of houses and office buildings rarely pay the energy bills, and so do not have an incentive to build them for low energy consumption. Smart building codes with effective enforcement can solve this “principal-agent” problem and deliver massive energy savings…

John Fetterman Answers:

Set up a cap-and-trade system. In the U.S., that means passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that will help stop climate change—and create jobs.

Braddock, Pennsylvania, a once-thriving town of 20,000 that now has a population of 2,800, is in a part of the state that has lost a quarter of a million steel industry jobs over the last several decades. People who are unemployed and worried about keeping a roof over their heads have little energy to devote to protecting the planet…

Eduardo Bartolomé Answers:

Currently the biggest threats to the environment are the effects caused by climate change. The challenge we face is to reduce these effects and guarantee a sustainable ecosystem for future generations. In recent years this issue has become of primary importance to governments around the world and has already affected our daily habits and activities.

We believe that governments, companies and ordinary citizens can all contribute to help the world adopt a new model of development, one that is based on a low-carbon economy.

The next United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Copenhagen this December. Representatives from approximately 200 countries will negotiate new agreements and incentives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as address the development and funding of technology to reduce global emissions…

William K. Reilly Answers:

As I reflect upon my own sense of national priorities, I am often struck by the incongruity between expert opinion and public understanding. 

This is true for climate change (scientists are alarmed, the public is distracted), nuclear energy policy (experts are more confident of the safety than the public) and nutrition (Congress supports policies that subsidize corn syrup while nutritionists decry its contribution to the obesity epidemic). The coming water crisis is virtually ignored…

Mark Tercek Answers:

“People versus nature.”

It’s a refrain often heard in discussions about conservation. When many of us think about conservation, we think about vast wildernesses and wildlife set aside from human use. The notion that we must choose between people and nature, however, is putting our planet in even greater peril…

 


Tags: alternative technology, Cap Solution, conservation, grassroots citizen engagement, greenhouse gas emissions, transporation
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