Shopping and Climate Change

After Hurricane Sandy this past October, questions have risen over whether or not the “superstorm” was a result of climate change. While global warming has been a well publicized issue, the United States has done little to talk about it, let alone actually do anything about it. If any politician brings up the issue of climate change, they are quickly labeled “tree-huggers” who want to kill jobs. Why is America so against discussing climate change?

Americans are mass consumers. In order to produce enough goods to satiate these consumers, industries must mass produce goods. These industries want to do this efficiently and cheaply. As a result, factories pump out tons of pollutants into the atmosphere. These pollutants are what many scientists say are causing climate change. Because so many industries depend on environmentally unfriendly to produce products, anyone who suggests a shift to cleaner energy is considered anti-industry and, ultimately, anti-american. Politicians who label themselves pro-business argue that putting carbon emission restrictions on industries limits profits and cuts jobs.

The everyday consumer also has a role in this equation. Because American consumers always want the newest thing, the biggest thing, and the most things, they are creating demand for products produced in ways that are harmful to the environment. Americans also have the habit of wanting products quickly and cheaply. If a business were to raise their prices to accommodate a shift to cleaner energy, consumers would be angry and take their business elsewhere. In the United States, the demand for cheap products often leads to practices that are detrimental to the environment. The resulting pollutions leads to climate change, and climate change leads to more superstorms such as Hurricane Sandy.

  Are consumers to blame for climate change?

Why are industries so opposed to “clean” energy to produce products?

Why won’t the government discuss climate change in light of recent storms?

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2 comments

  1. Consumers have become hypocrites on the topic of climate change. Their high demand for high quality products at low prices are forcing the hands of companies to continue polluting the world to remain cost effective. The selfishness and ignorance of consumers needs to change before any positive actions are taken by the companies whose factories are causing so much pollution. They are forced to look after their profits from a business point of view and even if they wanted to invest their own earnings to build safer factories, their prices would have to increase to pay for the expenses of a new and safer factory. Ultimately the company would fail because less people would be willing to pay a higher price for something they can get for cheaper. The only real solution would be if every company were to make the decision to increase their prices for the benefit of less factory pollution. The downside is that is a very unlikely scenario. The government doesn’t want to talk about climate change because they don’t want to bring attention to a problem that they have no real solution to. The government lacks the ability to convert companies to “clean” energy sources for the production of their goods. Without a solution in mind, the government has no viable option when it comes talking about climate change. If they can’t give the people an answer to the problem it would discredit their ability to solve any other problems the people are concerned about.

  2. isaacb23

    I think the reason why Americans are so hesitant to have introduce climate change into the national conversation, let alone act on it, is we only handle problems AFTER they happen. The biggest legislative issues facing Congress are all about the economy. The recession is partly because we put off addressing issues until its too late (i.e diff regulations…bailouts). Rarely do voters or legislators choose to spend money on infrastructure until after it fails (stadiums falling apart, bridges collapsing…) As frustrating as it is, it takes a disaster to warrant change/spending. Otherwise the numbers are too astronomical to fathom and get pushed to the side. Climate change is too ambiguous to scare the public into action. It is hard to point to any storm/incident and blame it on climate change. Likewise, it is almost impossible to boil it down to one causing factor. WIthout something pressing it into the national conversation, its hard to find room in the agenda. In the next few years, there will be major issues facing the country with massive spending (medicare, social security). I think that climate change will continue to be ignored,and no substantial proactive legislation established, until it is too late. What will it take to force us to address it? I don’t know but it won’t be good.

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