Admit the Admission Problem

The environment has always been a concern of both Hockaday students and administration. Because of the devastation caused by wildfires in central Texas, it has become an even greater concern. 250 of 254 Texas counties reported a burn ban and thousands of homes have been destroyed. Many scientists are blaming these disasters on climate change. The issue, though, tends to fall to the bottom of the list for many politicians.

Even as the environment grows more volatile, little action is being taken by elected officials. This year, the U.S. has had a record 10 weather catastrophes costing more than a billion dollars: five separate tornado outbreaks, two major floods, a drought in the Southwest, a blizzard and Hurricane Irene.

Still, with all these weather-related devastations, climate change isn’t being debated as a priority in the U.S.

Recently, the U.S. government scaled back its efforts to keep the planet clean.  After a lackluster August job report, President Obama vowed to minimize pressure on the industry and withdrew the draft for more stringent Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These regulations would have required that threats to the ozone be reevaluated more frequently than the previously every five years.

His response was not surprising given that protecting the environment is viewed as a luxury in the United States. In a country where the economy is still on the mend and unemployment is high, any legislation that doesn’t favor large, job-creating corporations is risky.

It is difficult to directly tie extreme weather (short term occurrences) to changes in climate (which is about long-term averages). However, all the extreme weather can be linked to problems with the ozone. As politicians continue to push the environment to the bottom of their list and focus on reelection, it is up to us to let our elected officials know that we are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change.

71 percent of people in a Pew Research survey say that we should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” Now it’s time for Washington to catch-up.

– Anna