The United States should play a more active role in international environmental efforts.The United States should play a more active role in international environmental efforts.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the tone of your question, I will assume this is some type of debate prompt.  I think that you are going to have to make some interesting choices, depending on the side on which you fall.  If you are going to argue that the U.S. should play a larger role in international environmental efforts, I think you are going to talk about how the U.S. was and has always been a major force in bringing the issue of environmental awareness to the forefront.  (See Rachel Carson's work Silent Spring, although the roots of American environmentalism can be traced to the Transcendentalist thinkers and, of course, the Native Americans. Our history as a nation has included environmental awareness.)  You will also probably argue that in taking a more active role in environmental protection, we can set the tone for other nations to follow.  Here you might cite evidence/ analysis that suggests that other nations follow our social examples and behaviors.  I would think that your last point would be that the environment is a pressing enough issue that the time for focusing on this issue would have to be now.  Your thoughts here to support would be the belief that polar icecap melting, global warming, and other ominous environmental trends demand us to take more action right here, right now.  Turning to anything from environmental action groups such as Greenpeace would work here (Activists this weekend hoisted a banner over Mount Rushmore, and researching this act will give you information to advance the argument of "right now, right here.")

Outside of being labelled as a bit "heartless," the other side of the coin can be equally compelling.  In arguing that the United States doe not need to play a more active role in the environmental, you would cite the work of the Environmental Protection Agency, which suggests that the work we are doing is already quite vociferous and active.  Another point to be made would be that the current administration is taking strides to make a "green economy," which would not only assist in our economic affairs, but our environmental commitments, as well.  Finding evidence about this would be helpful.  I think you might also make the argument that we are doing our part and other nations should do the same.  For example, if China wishes to be a significant economic power and partner in the world, should they not assume a greater burden for environmental awareness?  The price of admission to the county fair is to pay the ticket:  If you want to be a global economic power that owns industry in America, assume a share of the environmental responsibility.  Additionally, a more nuanced argument would be that the situation might not be ours to lead.  Simply put, if we assume that outdated and antiquated factories burning fossil fuels such as coal is the causation of environmental damage, many of these factories are not in America as much as they are located in other nations, struggling to become economic forces.  The responsibility is on these nations' governments to police their own industries.  Finally, an argument that dissuades us from taking any more responsibility on this world issue is our current economic crisis.  The American public does not seem persuaded by environmental action when unemployment on a national scale is approaching 11%.  This will be where their focus lies and no where else.

alohaspirit eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I completely agree as would most people that the U.S. should have a more active role in helping the environment.  Our country and China are the biggest oil consumers out of any other country in the world, so it is our responsibility to work on possible solutions NOW, and start putting them into an active role.  I am sick of all the talk, talk, talk, we have talked about alternative energy, and finding renewable resources, but very little has been done to start making a global impact.  We are killing the islands in the Pacific as we speak by becoming a factor in global warming.  Because of our massive amounts of pollution, we are one of the main reasons global warming is rapidly increasing, and because of this such island nations in the Pacific are already seeing damage to their crops and waters rising into villages.  2009 has to be the year to stop all the talking, and start the action!  I hope Obama will play a vital role in the action part, as he talked about many times on his campaign.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The United States must play a more active role in international efforts to preserve and protect the environment. As a world leader, how can we not take a leading role in the effort to save the very planet? As the country that continues to utilize the vast majority of natural resources, how can we not make a greater effort to address environmental issues? Despite our current economic crises, much of the world still looks to the United States for leadership, and we have to provide it in this most crucial concern. Raising international awareness, working cooperatively with other nations, and using American science and ingenuity to solve environmental problems are all measures we can and should take to a greater extent.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
As one of the largest industrialized nations, the United States does have a responsibility to the environment. Unfortunately, we don't usually place a priority on environmental issues if they oppose business interests. We refuse to sign international treaties that pledge environmental responsibility, for example. The Kyoto Treaty comes to mind. We have not developed alternatives to fossil fuels, even though we supposedly have the most innovative and advanced minds in the world.
drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I couldn't agree more with this statement. The United States is one of the world's most virulent polluters. Americans have profited handsomely from industries that impact the environment and wreak global consequences. It is only fair and equitable that the U.S. does its fair share of working to support environmental preservation efforts.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that it is important for the United States to play an active role in environmental issues. I agree with #6 in regards to the amount of power the United States has. While we are a very powerful nation, it is important that many nations are involved, it is after all a global effort.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Environmental pollution is a major and urgent threat to the whole world. The effects of pollution impact the whole world irrespective of who is responsible for pollution or where the pollution originates. Because of this, all the countries in the world acknowledge the need for cooperation in controlling and reducing the pollution levels. The disagreement crops up only when it comes to deciding who should contribute how much to this effort.

It appears reasonable to say that countries that create maximum pollution should contribute maximum to pollution control effort. By this standard the highly developed countries including USA should bear the greatest responsibility for pollution control. But if we measure the efforts of pollution control in terms of ratio of expenditure on pollution control versus total pollution created, USA and other developed countries fall much behind many of the developing countries like India. Thus an increased role of USA in environmental control will not only be very much welcome, but also very much justified.

The misconception about impact of India on international pollution,  implicit in views expressed in Post #6, is perhaps due to the fact that although the total pollution created is low in India, the pollution per unit of industrial production is high because of use of old technology. Here it worthwhile noting that in their days of development, the developed countries have used technologies that were even more polluting. It would not be fair for developed countries to insist that they should be allowed to continue to pollute the world more and more to continue to enjoy much higher standards of living at the cost of progress of developing countries. I am sure no developing country will have problem in changing over to the less polluting technologies, if developing countries are ready to contribute their share of cost of changing over to such technologies.

epollock | Student

I am not so sure that the US is as dominant as it once was. Even if the US agrees to take the lead, if China, India and other countries don't follow, then nothing will be accomplished. It is important to get other countries to lead and the larger countries to follow to ensure that ideas and plans are progressing.