The United States is a large country, geographically and in terms of population. If we reduced our dependence on fossil fuels, that would help a great deal in terms of climate change, because almost all of us drive our cars almost everywhere.
I was hoping someone would mention the idea of actually just consuming less because that is the most immediate and lasting solution to the problem. The rate at which we in the U.S. and other rich nations use energy is completely unsustainable. But as brettd mentioned, until gas costs 4.50 a gallon or other energy prices go way up, behaviors don't change.
The other thing they can do is to vote with their wallets. In some big cities you can actually purchase electricity that is entirely from renewable sources and of course the more people that choose to do this, the quicker we will move towards renewable energy on a large scale.
The simplest, easiest, most practical and efficient way to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change is to consume less. While we are only 5% of the world's population in the US, we consume 25% of its resources. Climate change or no climate change, that is both foolish and unsustainable. We have the technology, the facilities and the potential to be much more efficient with our energy production and consumption, all we seem to lack is national popular will. Don't get me wrong, Americans are great in an emergency, and there's almost no challenge too large for them to solve if they want to. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get them to do anything until it is an emergency already, and we may have already reached the tipping point where climate change is concerned.
There are many who belong to the school of thought that global warming (climate change) has been going on since the beginning of time and there is absolutely nothing humans can do to stop it from continuing. That said, certainly the hype surrounding global warming in the past 10-25 years has caused the US to look at the different wasteful practices it has been in the habbit of. Whether the idea of climate change is actually affected by human hands, one positive thing has come from it, and that is the idea that there are things we can be doing in general to reduce waste, reduce pollution, and essentially, reduce our carbon footprint.
As previous posts have stated, this country is one of the largest producers of the above. Individuals would all make an impact if we started to change our lifestyles, especially revolving around transportation, energy consumption, and mass production.
If the US wants to reverse the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we will have to focus on alternative energy sources like hydrogen fuel, nuclear energy and solar energy and not rely so heavily on hydrocarbon fuels. We need to develop and set aside more parks, forests and estuaries to increase the amount of producers that can absorb this carbon dioxide which is causing the climate to become warmer. Perhaps the government will stop subsidizing the fuel costs and when people see that fuel is even more expensive, they might drive less, car-pool or have less vehicles.
There are a lot of things it could do.
Perhaps the most obvious thing is to work on cutting down on the consumption of fossil fuels. This could be done by developing new technologies that would enable us to get energy from renewable sources. The growing use of wind power is an example of this.
Of course, climate change is a problem that is affected by all nations. The US alone cannot do as much as will probably be needed. Other big countries like China will have to do something as well.
Climate change, has several causes, both economical, social and political. USA being a giant in all the above, can do alot both directly and indirectly to either change or influence climate change globally.
Being a member of UN, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,UNEP, USA can influence not only passage but also implementation of policies which target the reduction of carbon emissions, like the Kyoto protocol, whose mechanism are emission trading(carbon market),clean development mechanism(CDM) and joint implementation(JI).
Being the world leader in economic muscle, USA can help the developing countries with grants and aids for projects like afforestation, in order to increase the forest cover , a major consumer of the carbon emissions which contribute to climate change. Irrigation and alternative energy especially in Africa can convert arid lands to into agricultural productive lands and provide an alternative to massive deforestations especially in central, and east Africa. This can be replicated in the other continents with a similar objective.
USA is a giant in manufacturing especially in the automotive industry. Production of hydrogen fuelled and electrical motor vehicles to its entire population as an alternative to hydrocarbon fuel can drastically reduce the day to day carbon emissions . This will set a pace to other developed countries which will intern export to the developing world