How the Climate Change Debate Can End By Reframing Climate Policy

It’s 2021 and there is still a debate regarding what the country should do in regards to climate change with many Americans arguing that it is not a top priority. However, according to the United Nations global emissions have increased by 50% since 1990, the oceans have warmed, sea levels have risen 19cm, and the world only has until 2030 to prevent irreversible damage from climate change.

The wind farm “Los Granujales” in the South of Spain (Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz). Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like wind is one of the measures needed to slow down climate change.
Vidar Nordli-Mathisen (Source: The UN)

It not only has had a detrimental effect on the world’s ecosystems and communities, but it is also costing the health and lives of human beings. The World Health Organization has stated that “between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.” Yet, the United States is slow to respond with effective policies to prevent this human and environmental crisis.

But, why?

The truth is that it’s really easy to push a problem away when you believe that it is not directly affecting you, which is exactly what many Americans do. The US is an individualist society, and Republicans especially, care more about policy and action that directly affects them.

It has also become clear that the macro effects that are emphasized such as the rising sea levels, have not made a significant difference in pushing people towards believing it is a risk for humanity. Which is why it is perhaps necessary to reframe the way climate change policy is talked about by relating it something everyone does have an interest in.

The economy.

Source: Pew Research Center
Source: Pew Research Center
Source: Pew Research Center

According to the Pew Research Center in 2019 the public’s top interest was the economy, with 70% of people saying it should be the Trump’s administration top priority. In contrast, only 44% of people said climate change should be the administration’s top priority.

That is why reframing the way climate change is talked about could work, especially since the country’s economy will undoubtedly suffer if no significant action is taken.

According to The New York Times because of the change in weather patterns by 2050 the agricultural productivity will decrease, extreme weather events will also cause trade disruptions, and it will cause harm for individuals with droughts resulting in lack of water, or even severe heat waves and wildfires.

Climate change will have an effect on the economy.

So perhaps it is necessary to begin talking about it through that lens, because maybe then Americans will begin to take this crisis seriously.