Skip to content

Student Panel Discusses Efforts to Curtail Climate Change


By: Jake Bonifield

The ice is melting.  Islands are disappearing.  Depauw students are concerned.

Congress debates health care.

The problems posed by climate change are serious and imminent, which was the primary cause for the panel discussion held in Peeler Auditorium last Thursday evening.  The participants prepared a presentation outlining the effects of climate change, the current legislation aimed at mitigating those effects, and how some of that legislation would look if implemented.   The presentation included some disturbing recounts of events that have taken place as a result of inaction on climate change, as well as predictions that portend a devastating impact for all life if the status quo of pollution and apathy is allowed to continue.

The somber truth of vast and virtually unmitigated climate change was tempered somewhat by irreverent humor.  Cartoon images of the emasculated “Cap’n Trade”, a hero of environmentalism who, first at the hands of the special interests in Congress and eventually the writers of the Daily Show, saw his power to reduce climate change maligned and mocked.  This comical personification of the Waxman-Markey bill that recently passed the House and has now moved on to the Senate, served as a reminder to everyone present of the current state of affairs not just of the disaster, but also of attempts to fix it.  The bill, as it stands today, is imperfect.  The bill as it will likely emerge from the Senate may very well be even less ideal.  The overall consensus of panelists, though, seemed to be an embrace of dauntless optimism, with a healthy mix of urgent concern.  Their answers reflected this cautious optimism.

Questions ranged from the mechanics of cap-and-trade, to the economic impact such a policy would have upon the US and individual companies.  Presenters offered an overview of Waxman-Markey’s positive attributes, as well as its shortcomings.  They hinted that the slow progress of legislation in the United States had greatly reduced hopes that the December conference in Copenhagen will be the pivotal meeting that exhibits the staunch commitment of the world to seriously fighting climate change.  Issues surrounding the political viability of Waxman-Markey and other proposals were also raised, painting a bleak picture of the prospects for groundbreaking reform in the near future.

All was not lost, the panel suggested, particularly if the characteristic enthusiasm of young activists could be harnessed in support of new and creative efforts to combat global climate change.  It was concluded that the ultimate responsibility for action resides with the represented, not their representatives.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: