Spinal sports

As the threat posed by global warming grows more apparent and human involvement in that phenomenon becomes more scientifically supported, the United State’s role in warming the environment will receive an increasing amount of criticism from the international community about its apparent inaction in the matter. U.S. representatives attending a global warming conference in The Hague last week, however, did not appear too concerned about this.
In an effort to revise the goals of the 1997 Kyoto Accords into more enforceable and realistic agendas, representatives from 170 nations attended the summit meeting. Designed to reduce global warming, the Kyoto Accord requires signatories to reduce their carbon emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. For the United States, because of nearly a decade of economic growth, this requirement would now translate to a reduction of about 20 percent from current levels. The hope of last week’s meeting was that revising the treaty would aid highly industrialized nations in taking more significant steps toward emission reduction.
While European nations pushed for strict adherence to the protocol’s goal of reducing emissions, the United States advocated more flexibility in evaluating emissions reductions. U.S. representatives there argued for the use of so-called carbon “sinks” — forests and other lands that absorb carbon dioxide pollution — and emissions trading to help nations meet their goals.
The talks at The Hague have since halted because industrialized countries could not agree on the specifics of suggested measures to be taken in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The United States’ opening proposal largely served as a beginning for the conference’s failure, as its representative suggested that our government need only meet half of its originally proposed goal. (The use of carbon sinks and emissions trading would fulfill the other half.) In effect this tells the world that the United States does not intend to do its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, considered by many to be at least partly responsible for global warming.
This is unfortunate, considering the large obligation we have. Our citizens make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but are responsible for 23 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. It is not only disturbing that our government is so careless about the environment, but also that it is content to delegate the responsibility of rectifying this problem to the rest of the world.
One reason the government may be putting a minuscule effort towards this issue is because of the threat a treaty like this could pose toward America’s economic growth. As our consumer culture uses up almost a fourth of the world’s energy supply, our nation should bear a large share of the responsibility to fix it.