Stephanie Pons

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Dear President-Elect Barack Obama,

We need hope. We need change. We need it now. America faces uncertain times, and yet as seen in the late hours of the night on November 4, 2008, “America is a place where all things are possible.”[1]I do not doubt that statement and if anything your victory as the next president of the United States of America reassured my faith in this great nation. I am a believer in “Yes We Can”; however, I am also fearful for what tomorrow has in store. I look outside and see a world that is threatened by human activity and the greenhouse gases we are emitting. I am aware that global warming is indeed a reality, and consequently, my fear comes as to whether we will respond to this crisis in time. This is because currently our carbon emissions are surging past 387 parts per million, and you already know what the consequences will be if that number continues to rise. The glaciers and arctic ice will continue to melt. Sea levels will continue to rise. Forest fires, ecological damage, and weather-related disasters will all continue to be a pervasive problem; and there will be deaths. It is a horrific and bleak future, and yet, it will be a reality in my lifetime. Therefore, the time to act is now. Climate change as stated by scientists Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump, “is one of the greatest, if not the greatest challenge ever faced by human society”[2]; and thus, as put by John F. Kennedy, “let us resolve to be masters, not the victims, of our history.” [3]

So “yes we can” change, and your “plan to make America a global energy leader” is a great start towards achieving that clean-energy future.[4]I too support the implementation of a cap-and-trade program, and your emphasis on researching and developing clean energy projects and technology, such as cellulose-based ethanol, will be crucial if we seek to lessen our dependency on oil. This can also then be furthered by tax incentives and government subsidies for businesses that implement such technologies or further their development, which would subsequently reduce incentives for businesses to outsource. These steps however are only the beginning. Other mitigation strategies include: building “green” structures, increasing reforestation initiatives, and even using waste to combat global warming. This is because through waste reduction and waste management, we may finally see a real solution to the landfill problem that is plaguing American landscapes and emitting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Hence, the solutions to combating global warming are there, and the only thing missing now is a leader who will implement such initiatives. This is a leader, who I like so many other American’s believe can be you; and therefore, I await to see your first “100 days” in office. I urge you as a constituent to make global warming a top priority on your agenda; and yet, you do not have to implement change by yourself. Rather, look around you at the faces of your fellow Americans who each have a reason to care about climate change. It might be because the changes in weather now cause hurricanes to be a constant threat to their homes (as in my case), or perhaps a loved-one is affected by asthma or other heath problems that become worse due to pollution. You just have listen and they too have a reason to become activist in this fight. Nevertheless, their actions will seem trivial if policy is not implemented on the national level, and this, consequently, is where I urge you to come in and implement change. “Yes we can” rise again as a world leader in the fight against global warming, and although little progress has been made in the last eight years, “this is our moment.”[5]In 2009, the UN Climate Change Conference will take place in Copenhagen, and unlike what happened with the Kyoto Protocols, this time everyone must be onboard for drastic changes.

Therefore, as you stated in your acceptance speech, “this is our time.”[6]This is our time to undo the mistakes of the past. This is our time to rise as a world leader once again. This is our time to stop global warming. That needs to occur even though fear will be a constant presence, as failure is indeed a reality; and yet, as put by Theodore Roosevelt, “it is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”[7]It is indeed a large task and perhaps as stated by John F. Kennedy, it “will not be finished in the first one hundred days [, the fist thousand days, nor perhaps even] in the life of this administration”; however, this will still be the progress that your children and I can look back on.[8]So, even though the road ahead will be long and hard, there is no better time to start than the present, and with “the only thing to fear is, fear itself”, lets move forward with a resounding “yes we can”![9]


Sincerely and with my best wishes,

Stephanie Pons

Middlebury College - Class of 2012

Notes

  1. Obama, Barack H. "Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech." Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech. Grant Park, Chicago. 4 Nov. 2008.
  2. Mann, Michael E., and Lee R. Kump. Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. First ed. New York, NY: DK, Inc., 2008. 197.
  3. "Famous Presidential Quotes." Quotes. 2008. 8 Nov. 2008 <http://www.desktop-quotes.com/famous-presidential-quotes.html>.
  4. "Barack Obama's Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader." Obama'08. 8 Nov. 2008 <http://obama.3cdn.net/4465b108758abf7a42_a3jmvyfa5.pdf>.
  5. Obama, Barack H. "Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech." Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech. Grant Park, Chicago. 4 Nov. 2008.
  6. Obama, Barack H. "Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech." Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech. Grant Park, Chicago. 4 Nov. 2008.
  7. "Famous Presidential Quotes." Quotes. 2008. 8 Nov. 2008 <http://www.desktop-quotes.com/famous-presidential-quotes.html>.
  8. "Famous Presidential Quotes." Quotes. 2008. 8 Nov. 2008 <http://www.desktop-quotes.com/famous-presidential-quotes.html>.
  9. "Famous Presidential Quotes." Quotes. 2008. 8 Nov. 2008 <http://www.desktop-quotes.com/famous-presidential-quotes.html>.