“DON’T WORRY, I’LL MAKE SURE TO GET RID OF THE BIG BLACK HOLE IN THE OZONE”
The Biden administration is one of the few to have better ratings than most when it comes to the issue of climate change. In fact, a sizable portion of both Democrats and Republicans back the administration's policies in terms of addressing climate change, with 90% supporting his initiative to plant a trillion trees and 79% being in agreement for the tax credit that will encourage businesses to capture and store carbon emissions. Conversely, congressional Republicans as well as a select few conservative Democrats voted to block a Biden administration rule when it came to bolstering the Clean Water Act. 52% of House Republicans still deny that climate change is a real issue. So why is President Biden facing such polarised feedback from Congress members when it comes to enacting his environmental agenda?
In the current modern era, many of us are active witnesses to the effect that the media and general public has on politicians. Social media is a powerful tool that many use to push campaigns, ideologies, slogans, and most importantly, curry votes. However, with this comes the distinct politicisation of many issues; abortion, education, and climate change all having fallen victim to this phenomenon. Although many people use their platform to spread positive messages and ideas on how to combat issues such as climate change, it comes with the intertwining of political agendas and ideologies, thus creating a further divided America.
80% of Americans who have labelled themselves as left-leaning have expressed unhappiness with the work the Biden administration has put into addressing climate change. Compared to previous statistics, this seems to be quite a contrast when considering the work the Biden administration has put into solving the issue of climate change. However, 58% of Americans believe that there is more that the federal government could do when it comes to solving the issue of climate change. Once again, partisan differences are obvious in this category, with Democrats being more unhappy with federal action as compared to Republicans. Thus arises the question, how did such an intrinsic connection become established between climate change and politics?
Climate change is a global issue and thereby needs to be combated on a global scale. This means that the only true solution to climate change is international and domestic policy, with world leaders ensuring that they achieve the goals that they outline and set for themselves and their countries. It is through this policy making that climate change and politics become connected.
However it is important to recognise that politicisation is not necessarily a negative phenomenon. Many of us gain our information about climate change and the necessary individual actions to take through political campaigns. Politicians preach good habits and make an active public effort to encourage the public in partaking in such habits as well, establishing community and promoting the needs of the planet we live on. Moreover, statistics show that many more Democratic-leaning Americans are more involved in the fight against climate change due to the action that their politicians emulate for them. The constant stream of good messaging results in behavioural change on a macro level.
Nonetheless, this politicisation has had its negative effects as well. There are still 139 elected officials in the 117th Congress who actively deny that climate change is real. This means that when such officials promote this message, those who listen to them will be more inclined to not work on individual actions which could lead to a reduction in climate change. Moreover, they may even actively work against efforts to reduce the effects of climate change due to the fact that they personally believe it to be a hoax when it is anything but. Thus not only does the sense of urgency surrounding climate change decrease, but political discourse becomes more prevalent, thus shifting focus from the true issue.
Ultimately, while politicisation can have its pros and cons, it is important to be aware of what one is actively consuming. Even if politics does come into play, it is important to not lose sight of the ultimate goal, and allowing political discourse to threaten our action against climate change can have devastating consequences in the near future. Don’t allow party lines to blur the reality of a very real problem which is affecting us all. At the end of the day, we all share this planet, and we should all ensure that we help it heal from the problems that we have exacerbated.
Environmental Debates in the Time of the COVID-19. (n.d.). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17524032.2023.2193025
Kennedy, B. (2022, July 14). Americans Divided over Direction of Biden’s Climate Change Policies. Pew Research Center Science & Society. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2022/07/14/americans-divided-over-direction-of-bidens-climate-change-policies/#:~:text=While%20the%20public%20is%20divided,much%20(22%25%20say%20it%20is
Weisbrod, K. (2023, April 28). Inside Biden’s Embattled Climate Agenda. Analysts say the Fight is Far from Over. Inside Climate News. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28042023/inside-bidens-embattled-climate-agenda-analysts-say-the-fight-is-far-from-over/
The World is on Fire and Our Leaders are Failing, Poll Finds. POLITICO. (n.d.). https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/08/citizens-politicians-combat-climate-change-00004590