In early April, the United Nations released a startling report that concludes that “world leaders” only have a few years to drastically curb carbon emissions, else the world will face debilitating warming, which would lead to a rise in sea level that would dramatically change human life and natural habitats. The report also argues that the world is already beginning to see the effects of climate change: a higher level of disease spread in Africa, an increase in the number and severity of wildfires in North America, and the decrease of food production in South America.
According to Kelly Levin, a climate change scientist from the World Resources institute, "Today's choices are going to significantly affect the risk that climate change will pose for the rest of the century."
Levin is, of course, correct, but perhaps not in the way she means. The United Nations and others involved in averting climate change have all emphasized the importance of the actions of world leaders in the coming years, from preparedness to last-ditch attempts to keep the world cool. But what “world leaders” really need to do is to drastically decrease their “defense” spending, stop propping up oil industries with counter-productive subsidies, and reduce or eliminate the regulatory burden on entrepreneurs so that they can innovate with new energy methods.
Consider the irony: the United Nations calls upon governments to enact emergency policies to mitigate climate change, yet those selfsame governments are actually the biggest hindrances to environmental cleanup efforts.
First, governments are often the largest polluters on the planet, not private entities. For instance, in the United States alone, the Pentagon is actually America’s biggest polluter. The Department of Defense pumps out more than 750,000 tons of hazardous material every year—that’s more than the top three chemical companies combined. How are they getting away with this? Congress passed an explicit provision exempting the military from any energy reduction efforts. The first thing that the U.S. “world leader” should do is to cut its own environmental impact.