Does the US need to take an active role in stopping global warming?

Greenhouse gases are said to be the #1 cause of global warming. If so, then the US should take part in helping to curb these carbon emissions.

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Yes, The U.S. and China need to help stop climate change and global warming. The U.S. and China are already the largest carbon dioxide polluters in the world so something needs to be done.

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The US is the second highest emitter of carbon dioxide (see list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions) and indirectly the highest emitter through the imports of consumables. The US could therefore make a particularly large contribution, since it also has the highest per capita carbon emissions of any large country (see list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita) and the technological expertise to find solutions.

A:

If climate change is real, then the United States as the second largest contributor to that change ought to take a leading role in fixing the problem. And whether or not climate change is real should be established by research, not uninformed opinion. Many climate experts still have varying opinions on what is causing global warming, including the possibility that it is primarily a natural event. Until we understand what the parameters are that are causing the known issue of global warming, it would be irresponsible for any country to base future decisions on the issue.

A:

Whether the US needs to take an active role in stopping global warming is a matter of classic risk management, a discipline which all kinds of enterprises undertake in managing situations that could pose unacceptable risks. The first step is to ask what is the probability that global warming is the result of human activity, what is the probability of harm resulting from global warming and how serious is the potential harm that could result.

We do not have to be absolutely certain that global warming is the result of human activity, and we do not have to be absolutely certain that harm will result. But if both probabilities are high, then action must be taken even if the potential harm is only moderate, as this means that harm will probably occur unless action is taken. Even if both probabilities are quite low but the potential harm is very serious, then action must be taken by all nations involved, as this means that serious and possibly even catastrophic harm is possible unless action is taken. That is how risk management works.

The answers to the three questions posed in this risk analysis are as follows. The great majority of climate scientists, experts in this field, are almost certain that global warming is the result of human activity. They project serious economic and environmental harm to result from continuation of the present trend of rising average global temperatures. Since this involves an issue of economics, not merely ecological issues such as the survival of species, economists are required to provide input into the answer on the seriousness of the potential outcome. Based on information and analysis by climate scientists, they anticipate serious economic disruption, which will include relocation of entire populations.

Based on the best available advice, the earth faces a crisis and it is too late to wait in hope until the damage bills start coming in. As the second-highest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States has a responsibility, not only to itself but also to all other nations, to take an active role in stopping global warming.