USA and KyotoWhat are the domestic constraints on international environmental regime development. Do you think a "regime change" in the U.S. will lead to greater international cooperation on...

USA and Kyoto

What are the domestic constraints on international environmental regime development. Do you think a "regime change" in the U.S. will lead to greater international cooperation on climate change?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Americans really don't like to think of themselves as to blame for anything, and they certainly do not like the idea of having to change the way they live and consume.  The science is so overwhelmingly conclusive in terms of global warming and climate change not only happening, but being man-made, that it is almost a moot point whether people believe it or not.  Anyone who is serious no longer questions this.

It's not as though public opinion is preventing our government from doing more.  Industry is, however.  Exxon is the most profitable company in the history of the world, clearing more than $120 billion in 2008 alone.  That's wrath of God money, and industries that would lose profits or market share because of Kyoto or other positive climate action will do anything to stop that from happening, up to and including widespread public disinformation campaigns that question what is happening in front of our eyes.

Kyoto itself is now probably not enough.  We would need more drastic action on the part of ourselves, India and China, and this is even more unlikely to happen.  The window of opportunity for us to mitigate the effects and extent of Climate Change is rapidly closing.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think there are two major constraints.  First, much of America does not believe that climate change exists or, if it does, they do not believe that it is man-made.  Second, there is a great fear of becoming less economically competitive if we try to get greener.

Therefore, I don't believe that a change in government would do much good.  It would require a change in public opinion, and there is only so much a different government could do about that.

In my opinion, only a Republican government would be likely to get away with ratifying something like Kyoto.  It would have to be a president that the right loved so they would trust him/her to do the right thing.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There seems to be a consensus here--money and politics. While money might not buy happiness, it does rule the world. Our politicians--policy makers are backed by businesses that would suffer financially if changes were made. Big oil conglomerates for instance. That’s why, gasoline prices can skyrocket and investigations into the situations always say there is an acceptable reason. It’s not about education; it’s about political powers. More of America would be willing to go green if it was made economically feasible for them, but that won’t happen due to the previous mentioned political situation.  

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What is all boils down to is money.  In capitalist economies, the money talks, and the money (meaning big business) forces the politicians (who want the money backing them) and the media (who are owned by and forced to say what the money wants) to carry out the agenda that big business sees as best for its survival.

In a nutshell, going green is not good for big business since productivity, and therefore profits, will be reduced.


litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Americans do not want to sign anything that forces us into a certain action. This is why we are seen as hypocritical. I am not sure I agree that most Americans think that climate change isn't caused by humans. Americans love to consume though, and our politicians want them to. The end result is that we don't sign Kyoto.
lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would tend to agree with post number 4, it as more to do with money than people being educated or un-educated. Big busineeses do not want the extra expense of going "green" in the way they do business.

beefheart | Student

If some punk points a gun at your head and demands your wallet... you act like a reasonably-brave-but-sensible-law-abiding-citizen and you hand over your wallet.

If some nerdy, white-coated scientist holds a series of graphs in front of your face that show the various relationships between emissions, climate and future lifestyle... you act like one of nature's tough guys and go out and buy a massive truck.

tragic human nature.

beefheart | Student

It comes down to this...

Western Countries are democracies. Their economies and politics are driven by poorly-educted poeple, because poorly-educated people make up the majority of the population of western democracies (and all other countries).

Poorly-educated people do not have the scientific awareness to fully comprehend climate change. So climate change is not important for the majority of consumers and voters in modern democratic nations. they do not care about environmental destruction because they do not fully understand it.

Stupid people are allowing the human race's self-destruction in accordance with the principles of democracy.