Political Patterns in Environmental Issues  Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

" (Rosenbaum, p. 12-13)

This demonstrates the uphill climb facing President Obama, not just in terms of gaining political momentum to return the United States to a place of respect in the global environmental movement but also to develop regulatory goals and standards that will have a meaningful impact on environmental standards. It is important for Obama to differentiate himself from his predecessors during this campaign with a policy agenda that does more than pay political lip service to important environmental issues.

Regulatory Energy Policy:

America's energy policy also carries extremely complex and nuanced political implications. Today, the world is coming to terms with the reality of a global oil shortage. The petroleum which has constituted the dominant and exponentially consumed energy source of the last century is becoming scarcer and more costly. The race is on to determine the most practical substitute for this precious but environmentally destructive, politically inflammatory and economically pertinent resource, with such clean burning but as yet technologically inefficient alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen cells all under consideration by environmental scientists and industrialists alike.

Other considerations are such renewable sources of energy as hydroelectric or solar power. And if regulated to determinable safety, a considerable increase on reliance upon nuclear power could help to alleviate our oil dependency. These alternative fuel references are intended to underscore the great imperative upon both businesses and world leaders to alter the course of industry, transportation and such specific sectors as automobile manufacturing and building architecture in order to promote more sustainable, environmentally sound and economically rational solutions to our energy demands. They also have emerged as part of an active and intensive discourse on the subject of oil dependency and global petroleum consumption, both of which fly in the face of logic given the unstable nature of this key commodity. And certainly, President Obama's tenure comes at a time where the pressure is ever-greater to reduce this dependency. Today, political will are shifting because of the economic imperatives correlated to the diminishing supply of petroleum. According to Rosenbaum, "in mid-2001 George W. Bush's administration released its much anticipated national energy plan, titled Reliable, Affordable and Environmentally Sound Energy for America's Future. The report began with a warning from the task force preparing the plan under the leadership of Vice President Dick Cheney. 'America in the year 2001 faces the most serious energy shortage since the oil embargoes of the 1970s. The effects are already being felt nationwide,' it observed. 'This imbalance, if allowed to continue, will inevitably undermine our economy, our standard of living, and our national security,' it added." (Rosenbaum, p. 253)

Ironically, the Bush Administration would go on to boast one of recent history's worst records on energy dependency, with its foreign policy and environmental position typically reflecting the interests of large energy conglomerates and petroleum companies over those of the American public or the global environment. As the price of gas rises unpredictably today, most notably so in light of the rippling political changes gripping the whole of the Middle East right now, the American public is gradually shifting in its attention to the matter. Rosenbaum notes that, according to a Pew Center report issued in 2006, "energy matters ranked only tenth in a public opinion poll concerning the issues to which most Americans thought the president and Congress should give priority." (p. 255)

That position would shift considerably in just the space of year, with a Gallup Poll in 2007 finding that 43% of respondents from the general public "worried a great deal" about America's oil policy. With a prolonged struggle in Iraq and sustained economic woes, Americans have felt the pinch of America's aged energy policy. President Obama's next campaign big must remind the public of the connection between its economic interests and the imperative to wean American off of its oil dependency.

Selected Scientific and Issue Position:

Here below is a policy recommendation and assessment driven by the three major dimensions discussed above. The issue-position taken here is that the Obama Reelection Campaign should focus on urban environmental redevelopment through sustainable building practice, community involvement, regulatory improvement and sustainability job development.

Through a combination of poor use-of-space and unsustainable building design, our urban and suburban settings have drawn us ever-nearer to a point of inevitable transition, where the over-consumption of natural commodities and the degradation of the natural environment will have widespread consequences concerning our way of life. With the notions of alternative fuel and environmental regulatory improvements still legislatively and principally embattled and described above, it is sensible for the president to turn to our architecture as a means to changing behaviors and attitudes in a manner that might better preserve our resources, our environment and our species. 'Green' housing philosophies are coming ever-more into mainstream architectural and policy consideration as decision-makers in economic and political positions of leadership alike meditate on ways to reduce CO2 emissions while simultaneously remaining conscious of economic demands. The proposal here would provide a policy framework for the proper encouragement, funding and administrative support in the development of sustainable principles in building development, infrastructural maintenance and use of geographical spaces, both urban and otherwise.

As a result of economic and sociological inequality, architectural concentration within the most desirable environments has infrequently been driven by pragmatic use of land and instead has typically been driven by economic interest. Indeed, where our studies tell us that communities and societies ought to be designed around the premise of human need and natural space use, instead, they have most frequently been driven by the social parameters servicing the wealthy. The result is that the United States is the single most prolific releaser of CO2 emissions both in sum and per individual. This dictates the need for a serious change in policy direction and funding which helps us to design an inherently more ecologically sound approach to new structural and infrastructural development.

It is thus that we enter into a discourse over the proper approach to design competence in an urban setting, with the inevitable relevance of technology to future outlooks informing the parameters of this approach. Such is to argue that, though it is evident in many urban localities today that technological ascent (especially the automobile) has contributed to an intensification of the social ills typically associated with city-existence -- such as overcrowding, crime, poverty and carbon toxification -- it may become more apparent through the present policy discussion that in fact, it is the manner in which a metropolis is conceptually planned which will most directly effect its capacity to accommodate both the human and technological aspects of ecological change. A regrettably commonplace urban pattern fails to accommodate this even as it comes to play an ever-greater role in shaping realities of living standards and survival.

Thus, for developers, public officials and members of the public with a vested interest in seeing to the improvement of blighted and neglected neighborhoods as a way to enter these locales into the housing market and to place such locales on a track toward revitalization, working with the city to improve the environmental outlook would be considered a primary goal. This means that private developers, corporate leaders, city councils, city executives and state political bodies must work together to renew our cities our sustainability goals established at the federal level. The City Council to present concerns, grievances or prospects for the future. Evidence also denotes that there are living standard issues which impact the poorest areas most directly but which of course permeate city life as a whole and which are correlated to environmental shortcomings or misconceptions. So is the denoted by the emphasis on green space, which though positive to the use-of-space issues concerning the city, do not address the larger environmental concerns the negatively impacted residential spaces.

In addition to the need for a change in perspective on many fronts, the changes demanded here would center on the capacity of municipal governments to help encourage adoption of green building practices through tax credits and other discounts in the acquisition of land and building permits. Here, we consult one outside source which helps us to more fully understand President Obama's stated goals in this area of policy orientation. Accordingly, "Obama has committed to economic recovery, energy independence, carbon-neutral buildings by 2030, and an 80% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2050." (Mazria, 1) These commitments are underscored by what the group called "Architecture 2030" has presented as the specs for a federally commanded program of this nature.

Mazria reports an estimated cost of $85.56 billion twice over the course of two years. An investment that will make it easier for Green architects to acquire land, that would encourage developers to switch to sustainable building principles, that would outline preferred sustainable building practices and that would provide the kind of municipal support seen in the example of Toronto provided above. Architecture 2030 estimates that for this expense, there would also be significant stimulus,…

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