In response to Brian Flaherty’s column, I think that he places too much faith in the business community to address global climate change (Changing the business climate, 11/16/2009).

While it is true that the private sector should — and hopefully will — produce the innovations necessary to combat greenhouse gas emissions, the role of government is too great to dismiss so casually. It is true that the U.S. government has failed to lead the way in combating climate change, but the proper response is to lobby our elected representatives and elect more environmentally friendly politicians. We should not abandon what could be our most powerful tool in enacting real change.

Flaherty was correct in pointing out the increase in solar panel sales, but failed to mention the hefty subsidies offered by, that’s right, the government. Nascent and critical industries have historically been subsidized, protected or otherwise incentivized, green technology should be no different. Flaherty ignored the role that public funding plays in researching new technologies and the demand created by government-backed incentive programs.

We need a bold move toward a greener economy, but it won’t come from the conservative energy and manufacturing industries. Given the end-of-life-as-we-know-it consequences of global warming, creating a cap-and-trade system for the U.S. is a dramatic step toward reining in our carbon dioxide emissions. Climate change is a global issue and the rest of the world is waiting for the U.S. to take action.

Our government must take steps to create an atmosphere more conducive to a green economy, but we citizens must hold our government responsible.

Samuel Marvin
Chair of the University’s chapter of the College Democrats

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