Today our class was one of my favorite classes because we talked about what I’m most familiar with: policy. Prof Tom Bateman of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce came and led a discussion about climate change. He started by showing us part of the PBS documentary “Climate of Doubt,” which detailed groups such as the Heartland Institute that were and are trying to create confusion around the science of climate change.
I was able to reference a book I read in my Comparative Policy History class last Fall called “Climate Shock: The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet.” This led us into a discussion about different solutions to help mitigate climate change such as cap and trade vs. a carbon tax. Cap and trade would cap the amount of carbon but not the price. On the opposite side, a carbon tax would cap the price on carbon but not the amount of carbon.
We discussed how during the 2nd Bush administration in the later 2000s, Republicans started getting more serious about climate change. There was a move towards a bipartisan bill but then the economy crashed and attention was diverted. At the time there was even a commercial with Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi that said “we don’t agree on much but we agree on climate change.” However in today’s administration, we’ve taken steps backward and elected someone who denies climate change is real.
Moving forward, we need to be advocates for protecting the Earth—“the only home we’ve ever known” (Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot). We need to make personally responsible choices to be kind to our planet. Prof Etienne explained that climate change will touch every aspect of our lives. It is only in our best interest to take action now.