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Indiana: the Center of the World

11/28/09

By Anthony Baratta, Ohio, USA

I wrote an article for The DePauw explaining that when it comes to international climate change policy, Indiana is the most important state in the world. Check it out!


Dear Class of 2013,

Hi. My name is Anthony Baratta. You’ve probably never met or seen me before. I’m usually at my fraternity studying or randomly singing “I Gotta Feeling.” As a hospitable upperclassman student, I’d like to introduce you to the state of Indiana.

While I’m not from Indiana, I’ve learned some things about this exciting state. Many of you have moved here from large cities like Beijing or Chicago, and you probably think Indiana is less interesting than taking the SATs for the third time. However, I’d like to make the case that you are not only living in the most important state in the nation, but the veritable center of the world. At least when it comes to climate change.

Here’s what I mean. When I traveled to Germany for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), all other country delegates kept deferring to the United States delegation for leadership on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You see, the U.S. helped write a game-changing climate treaty in 1997. Our Vice President even signed the document. But then the Senate didn’t ratify it and we backed out, leaving the rest of the world with a treaty unsupported by the biggest emitter in the world. This is roughly equivalent to promising your friend to join them on a Boulder Run and then chickening out at the front door, leaving your friend, or ex-friend, to run naked across campus alone. Other countries have now waited more than a decade for the U.S. to get back on board. And understandably, the other countries want to make sure the U.S keeps its word this time.

However, the United States can’t lead at the United Nations until they have a strong policy at home. Here’s where you come in. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in June. That legislation has now advanced to the Senate where it faces significant obstacles, specifically, Midwestern Senators. Senator John Kerry identified Indiana Senators Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar as the most important for getting strong, clean energy legislation signed into law. That’s huge! That announcement should be more exciting than watching President Casey knock out Wabash President Patrick White in a cage watch. The future of our civilization lies in the Hoosier state.

Based on what happens in Indiana over the next year, one of two scenarios will unfold. In the first scenario, a network of college students from around Indiana partner with businesses, non-profits, and concerned citizens to ask Senators Bayh and Lugar to pass climate change legislation that will bring renewable energy and efficiency jobs to Indiana and reduce our carbon emissions without bailing out dirty industries. Inspired by the voices of their constituents, Senator Lugar and Bayh become champions of the Senate climate bill, which passes because of their support. With a strong, national plan in hand, U.S. delegates to the UN negotiate a binding, international treaty to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Finally, the small island states and least developed countries who are given foreign aid while simultaneously backhanded by the droughts and storms from our carbon emissions will have a taste of social justice

Or, we keep to ourselves and take no political action. No one mobilizes because no one cares. The coal industry prolongs its reign over our energy supply, all the green jobs go elsewhere, and the small islands disappear underwater. The self-titled ‘global warming debunkers’ get book deals because American citizens wants to hear what makes them feel good. We’d rather believe our actions don’t have negative consequences and that our charitable giving to the third-world isn’t offset by our complicity with an outdated, dirty energy policy.

Which scenario will it be? You are in the center of the world, and the choice is yours.

Sincerely,

-Anthony Baratta

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