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Does the US Need European Laws Protecting the Planet?

Europe has moved to the head of the environmental class by pledging to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. It's the world’s most comprehensive carbon management system.

Europe is proposing to tighten the rules for allocating pollution allowances, and make polluters pay the government for allowances instead of getting them for free. It's a plan that will raise large sums of money to invest in new and cleaner ways of producing energy.

By contrast, America's efforts to halt global warming are stymied by governmental inaction. Sen. Joseph Lieberman is still hoping to get a veto-proof majority for a bill he is co-sponsoring with Sen. John Warner to start capping emissions across the entire economy.

Europe’s program is in business, whereas America’s best ideas are still on paper. Change is slow to come. New York City is battling to enact congestion-zapping tolls, and the biggest new environmental idea — Al Gore's huge eco-initiative comes from the private sector — and was launched partly out of frustration in the lack of government action.

Do we need policy or personal behavior and private sector know-how? Why is America so behind Europe?


Join The Conversation
josephr josephr 9 years
we have a enough crooks and lies in the worman biggest hoax..when are we going to bring thes people up on charges how come we dont here the other side about globle worming we dont need anybody to run the U.S.A.ITS TIME TO BRING PEOPLE UP ON CHARGES
Bartleby-282 Bartleby-282 9 years
We are all so happy that I can't believe anyone here would care whether we had environmental laws like the europeans. They conserve energy by not putting ice in their iced tea and having one garbage can for plastic and another for paper. They are conserving and environmental lawing themselves into bankruptcy. Maybe if everyone quit smoking it would reduce greenhouse gasses and if all the dairy cows quit mmmm ah (this is a delicate posting site I was warned), passing gas, it would also help. I know we could all get along without milk and cheese. Also, it gets quite dusty when all those farmers plow their fields before planting their crops. There is a cost to converting everything to "green" you know. And, of course the euros save money by letting the USA fight their wars and protect them from terrorists.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Well, they can look all they wnat, but they won't catch me, 'cause I'm the gingerbread man! (sorry, been playing gingerbread tag with the kids) LOL
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
No UnDave35 their breaking their arms knocking on doors looking for you. LOL!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Wow! So people who want to save the earth want everyone to know how great they are?!?! So do they also break their arms patting themselves on their back?
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
There was an excellent snippet in BusinessWeek about this last week... Ergh I wish i could find it! Esentially it said that hybrid sales in the US are on the rise, with this March being the most sold in the US over any other month YTD. But that the Toyota Prius accounts for 4 of every 5 hybrids sold... Its so staggering that Toyota is consider branding prius as its own brand.. So its kind of hard to fault American companies for not making hybrids when obv. there is no demand for hybrids that aren't Priuses... The article basically went on to state that people who buy hybrids want other people to KNOW they drive a hybrid and thats why models like the ford escape hybrid have been doing so rotten, even the civic hybrids aren't doing well...
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree that the auto industry is taking a back seat to Japan. They've been under immense pressure because their gas prices is so much more than ours. The point I am making is this. Government requirements will lower emissions, but the resulting costs of the cars that are manufactured will go up, because it isn't consumer driven. I would like to see the American auto industry take the lead, but they are still stuck in, as you say, wait and see. When Saturn came out, it jolted the auto makers a little. We need someone else to come up with a better vehicle, and continue to show the old guard that we Americans can do it too.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I think you just made the point for the poster of the article UnDave35. "The initial push comes from the consumer. The provider of the goods, then finds a way to make it available in a manner that is affordable, and yet still gives him a profit." This is the point of the article. Japan and Europe have been leading the auto industry in fuel efficiency and safety since the 80's and America's auto industry has been in the back seat taking the wait and see approach. Once they see the consumer buying up the foreign cars then they go run and scramble to do the same thing. As the article suggests and I myself am asking when is America going to take the lead and have some confidence in itself again in this area. Every modernized standard that has come out of our auto industry in the past two and a half decades has been on the heals of Europe and Japan after they did it first.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree that the unions make it more difficult, and in the past the auto industry has had the "It's me or no one" mentality. They have been getting better, beginning in the 80's. Since they are starting far behind, I don't know how long it will be until they catch up, but they will eventually. I'd like to have a car that doesn't fall apart within 10,000 miles after the warranty has expired (this week)
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Well, this will sound anti-American of me, but American automakers have always lagged behind the rest of the world in terms of innovation... and our government has only placated them in in the interest of securing union votes... so why should they start being innovative now? Besides, if they want to get innovative, how about figuring out a way to make an American car that will hold its value like a Japanese one? THEN maybe worry about going hybrid ;)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
That is true, and look what the auto industry has done with higher mileage vehicles. The initial push comes from the consumer. The provider of the goods, then finds a way to make it available in a manner that is affordable, and yet still gives him a profit. It'll happen, but a little slower than a government mandate. The upside to the slower part is that when changes are made, they will be more affordable.
em1282 em1282 9 years
"When I was in college there was the European guy who slept with this girl I liked before I did. I've got that same feeling reading this story." Hee! You crack me up raccicarone :) This might sound mean, but sometimes I think the reason Americans are behind Europe on things related to the environment is because we just flat-out do not care, or are still in denial about environmental issues. I agree with mymellowman--it really doesn't take a law to make something happen--but I can't tell you how often I see people *not* doing the little things that could make a big difference. I'm all for personal freedom (obviously) but sometimes I think people have too much of the "because I can" attitude that can get in the way of just, you know, doing something for the greater good.
mymellowman mymellowman 9 years
How about instead of worrying about the government passing legislation, people just step up and do their part? I wish people would realize that we don't need a law to make something happen, you just have to do it. Want the auto industry to start cutting emissions, people need to push for lower emission vehicles. Companies do listen to their customers as they need them to survive in business. Supply and demand.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Sorry, had to pop out for a bit. I would love to see us cut emissions, reduce waste, etc. I think the best place to begin with that is improving mass transit. Public transportation in Los Angeles is so bad as to be unusable, if you have any other options. Also, we need to remember that the US is a lot more spread out than Europe. Coordinating (non-air) transportation between cities is more challenging, and less cost-effective. I'm not saying we shouldn't try, just that it's more complicated. Also, I am *really* opposed to government mandates and intrusions. I would be more in favor of economic incentives and disincentives, such as basing auto licensing fees on some objective standard such as your smog test results and/or standard mileage estimates.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I won't argue that the technology may be there. I don't know if it is, but I can't argue that it isn't. What I will question is the financial feasability. IF it doesn't add to the already mounting costs of automobile ownership, then I am all for it. But paying extra to cut emissions only makes the person who came up with the technology rich, and that is anti-american.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I agree with you Lainetm that more studies in regards to global warming are needed for a more accurate picture of it's effects. However, the article is specific to cutting emissions. The technology is available to cut emissions and in this area the U.S. is behind Europe for economic reasons tied to the auto industry, oil companies and the like. We don't need any more studies done to understand we can cut emissions. We know we can. We don't need to wait for another decade for more conclusive studies regarding global warming. We don't need to wait until Americans give up their space without a fight UnDave35 to cut emissions. The technology is here. The technology is proven and we simply have to have the will to implement it.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Oh, and America is not "behind Europe", we just like to think for ourselves and make our own decisions. That is frequently one of our greatest national strengths.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
There is a lot of educated and informed opposition to the popular media version of the "global warming crisis". All you have to do is google "global warming opposition". However, it's one more issue which we don't seem able to discuss in a rational and logical manner, because most people react in an emotional manner. Measures to reduce pollution and emissions are fine, and I'm all for doing the research and looking at any contributing factors, but taking drastic action before we really understand the problem could actually make things worse. We also need to study and understand the longer climatic cycles, of 500-1000 years, before we make any rash conclusions.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
To answer the last question of the article (and to open a can of worms), the reason "America is so far behind Europe" is because Americans (thanks to Henry Ford) were able to afford a car, cities were designed to be car friendly, and nothing, not even the "threat" of global warming is going to make Americans give up their space without a fight.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Becuase the U.S. has higher priorities than being a leader in ecological lifestile and industry.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
When I was in college there was the European guy who slept with this girl I liked before I did. I've got that same feeling reading this story.
stephley stephley 9 years
We need private, personal and policy sectors to work together; but many Americans question the claims about climate change and businesses want to make sure nothing impacts on profits so I think we'll lag behind Europe on this for a long time.
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