Odds Without Ends

Discussing the environment is not what I have in mind when I think of a typical Friday night, but this is exactly what happened on the last Friday of summer vacation when my friends decided to
play “Funkenschlag” – a German-based strategy game in which players compete against each other as rival power-plant owners, struggling to provide electricity to the most German cities by rapidly depleting the world’s supply of oil, coal, and uranium. Sounds like a pretty fun Friday night, right?

Surprisingly, Funkenschlag was more than we had bargained for. Towards the end of the night, the game had devolved into a serious conversation about energy conservation and what we could do to prevent global warming. As scientists have pointed out time and time again, the threat of global warming is immense. The melting of the polar ice caps, which could trigger sporadic climate changes and countless category five hurricanes, could very well happen within my generation’s lifetime. So, with global warming such an immense problem, my friends and I wondered: what exactly can we do to prevent it?

Recycling, buying fuel-efficient cars, and building eco-friendly houses are certainly helpful, but they are not the answer. Rather, our job is to influence those in power – the politicians – to make
widespread and signifi cant reform. But sadly, the American public has done a poor job in keeping the environment a top issue.

For example, in 2004, the environment took a backseat to other pressing concerns, registering as one of the least influential factors for voters; and while family values, the war in Iraq, and taxes
may be understandably popular issues, shouldn’t the very safety of the world be prioritized on the same level?

NPR reported in 2004 that Senator John Kerry found it especially difficult to appeal to both conservationists and those in favor of big business. This political balancing act, as seen in Kerry,
has continued into the 2008 election, producing half-hearted candidates that prioritize what will win them the most votes over what is best for the country. Frontrunner candidates on both sides
of the political fence have shown little in terms of environmental concern. Hilary Clinton, for example, has suffered a few blemishes on her environmental record. Although she is probably the most ecofriendly of the candidates, she has also supported “clean coal,” which, despite
its name, still emits carbon into the atmosphere. Republican candidate Mitt Romney has hardly made the environment one of his key issues. In fact, he has steered clear of the topic entirely, especially after pulling Massachusetts out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – one of the northeast’s most ambitious campaigns to cut down on carbon emissions.

Lesser-known candidates have also avoided the environment. For example, Texas congressman and presidential hopeful Ron Paul, who is trailing in the polls, has never once publicly mentioned
his stance on the environment during his entire campaign.

The fact that some candidates, such as Paul, can continue to get by without even addressing the issue of the environment is disheartening.

We, as Americans, must do our part and demand that global warming be brought to the forefront of politics, never letting legislators ignore it or toss it aside, as it has been by countless politicians
in the past.

A more enduring outcry for energy alternatives is needed to push these politicians in the right direction. Otherwise, the same fate of the world of Funkenschlag may very well be in store for us.