Great Thunberg and the Climate Crisis Debate

By: Nick Josselyn

In the United States, children have recently been playing more of a role in our discussion of politics and world occurrences. The newest child who has risen up to the political sphere is Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teenager who is now on the forefront of the global climate crisis. 

Thunberg became the poster child for the movement against climate change after founding the School strikes for the climate on 20 Aug. 2018. Since then, she has written two books, an autobiography titled “Scenes from the Heart” and a list of 11 climate speeches titled “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference.” Her most recent influence on the climate crisis came in mid-September, when she gave an emotionally charged speech to the United Nations regarding their lack of urgency in the climate crisis. 

“We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” Thunburg said during her UN Speech “How dare you!”

With a strong speaker in current politics, there is always going to be critics. Oliver Ashe, a political science major and president of Niagara University’s College Republicans, discusses his concerns regarding some of Thunberg’s stances. 

“While I think we need to listen to every person, I have a personal problem against government intervention,” Ashe explained when asked about her stances. “I also think that she is a hypocrite for not believing in nuclear energy which is clean and way more efficient than wind and solar.” Ashe was referencing a Facebook post Thunberg posted on March 17, where she mentioned her fears regarding the safety of nuclear power.

“It can be a small part of a very big new carbon free energy solution. . . even though it is extremely dangerous, expensive, and time consuming,” Thurnburg argued on her Facebook post. “But let’s leave that debate until we start looking at the full picture.” 

Ashe also argued that the reason the United States produces as much carbon emissions as it does is due to the lack of freedom under heavy government regulations, suggesting that rolling back government intervention would encourage the free market to innovate towards eco-friendly solutions.  “Carbon emissions are high due to the government’s subsidies towards the fossil fuel industry,” Ashe suggested. “If you want to make the world a better place, the only solution is a perfectly free-market.” 

A study from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute shows that the United States spent $5.2 trillion dollars on subsidies in 2017, which may influence energy companies to continue their fossil fuel usage with government benefits. While government money does encourage corporations to continue using fossil fuels as their main source of income, it is not entirely factual to say that all government intervention halts progress towards cleaner energy. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, United States Carbon Emissions have been on a slow and steady decline since around 2006, A year after the Bush Administration enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gave companies tax incentives for energy production. After Bush’s presidency, the Obama Administration continued to push for stricter emissions regulations during the emissions decline. While the Trump Administration’s rollbacks have yet to see a shift in the trend, these changes have not been around long enough to see whether or not energy companies will break the trend in the future. 



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