Taking Control of the Political Agenda


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After seeing the way that Penn State's Michael Mann was harshly criticized for his work, it is even more clear what a heated debate global warming truly is. Since global warming is such a controversial topic, politicians are often hesitant to comment on it, as Andrew mentioned. In order to make headway on this issue, it is important to make politicians aware that the public is passionate about this issue.

In order to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of global warming on the political agenda, a group of Swathmore College students have recently been conducting a carefully constructed campaign that is outlined in the New York Times article. After realizing that their efforts were not being recognized, they rallied with other universities and "have demanded that university endowment funds rid themselves of coal, oil, and gas stocks" which they see as a way to "force climate change, barely discussed in the presidential campaign, back on to the national political agenda."

It is unfortunate that politicians are wary of commenting on climate control because this is the time when it is critical that action is taken. According to another New York Times article, Obama and Romney "seemed most intent on trying to outdo each other as lovers of coal, oil, and natural gas - the very fuels most responsible for rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." 

The fact that college students are addressing this issue with such determination is certainly recognizable and should weigh heavily on politicians. It is unfortunate that the younger generations are the ones who will be most influenced by the effects of climate change but that the politicians censor themselves to appease the majority of their voters, the older generations. 

There has been constant struggle between science and politics. It is impossible to determine how quickly the climate change will begin to affect us, since that is an entirely different can of worms. Due to the potential urgency of the issue, the fact that politicians are skirting the issue of climate changing is more severe than the way they avoided issues such as stem cell research. 

Although the efforts of the college students at Swathmore college have been captivating media attention, it is still unclear how effective their actions will truly be on politicians.Another component to captivating the politicians' attentions is to first attract the attention of high profile and influential people. With the efforts to get speakers to emphasize their point of view, the college students are also keeping the protests peaceful by creating a petition.

The question though is, when will the peaceful protests time out? How will the climate change begin to affect us and will it be too late? Should we start to plan what will happen when the effects start to set in, or is it better to remain concentrated on getting a reaction from politicians? Finally, is there any way for citizens to ban get their opinions heard loudly enough so that politics no longer runs science?

1 Comment

I'd say that if history has taught us anything, it is that politicians are extremely hesitant, essentially cowards, when it comes to instituting large scale changes of that nature, especially with public opinion so divided and with oil companies having so much cash to throw around. And so long as so many people in this country feel like they're at war with science, I'm not sure if it will ever be politically expedient to institute the kind of wide-sweeping changes that we, and this planet, so desperately need.

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