Center for American Progress

A Changing Climate: The Road Ahead for the United States

What a difference a decade makes. In December 1997, when sleepless negotiators agreed to the Kyoto Protocol, the Senate was already on record 95-0 against the accord, the American public and media were largely uninterested, and policymakers outside the environmental community paid the issue little heed. Now, the cultural landscape is dotted with cover articles in major magazines, front-page press stories on shrinking polar ice, stronger hurricanes, 100-year storms, disappearing species, and Al Gore’s An Inconve- nient Truth and Nobel Peace Prize.

Governors and mayors are taking bold steps to combat climate change, ma- jor companies are calling for tough measures that would have been laughed at a few years ago, venture capitalists are pouring money into alternative energy, national security and military specialists are absorbed by the global security dangers of climate change, and Congress is drafting a flurry of bills to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Global warming, after many years as an also-ran, has arrived at center stage, not only as an environmental issue but also in- creasingly as a major concern of economics and national security.

All this has occurred despite the open skepticism of a White House that walked away from the Kyoto Protocol, muzzled its own scientists, and clung to modest voluntary policies at home and abroad that fall far short of what is needed.

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