An investigation into the use of science by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in relation to climate change 1. Introduction Climate change is now the greatest environmental problem confronting the earth ecosystem and human beings. It is largely caused by unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions all over the world from industry and many human activities. It can be prevented from becoming worse if some decisive measures and actions are in place (Total Environment Centre, 2012).
As one of the world environmental advocacy bodies, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dedicates to protect human health and the environment. The advocay body is established for the purpose of reducing environmental risks to Americans, making efforts to incorporate U. S. policies in environment into actions on the basis of the most reliable scientific information (EPA, 2012). To systematically address the impact of climate change, the adaptation needs through managing climate threat, and the exact decision-making actions, science plays an important role (Laguna, 2012).
For the advocacy organisations, science can also support their values and interests. In this case, an investigation into the use of science by the EPA concerning climate change is to be done in this report. 2. EPA’s advocacy positions 2. 1 EPA’s contribution to debate on climate change About debate on climate change, EPA released news to support the government policies and at the same time advocate its positions. For instance, a carbon footprint reduction program named “Carbon yeti” successfully increased people’s awareness of climate change.
This received EPA’s supports and achieved an EPA Clean Air Excellence Award (Kaufman, 2011). In addition, EPA released a report called EPA Endangerment Finding which was made after a review of bountiful public comments and research results on climate change. The findings indicated that greenhouse gas from human activity is the main cause of climate change. Simultaneously, greenhouse gas pollution can also become a risk to public health and public welfare (Environmental Defense Fund, 2012).
The EPA Endangerment Finding was later commented by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), but the OIG report was considered to have mischaracterised EPA’s findings. EPA then sent a response to Inspector General’s report to claim the validity of its scientific findings (EPA, 2011). EPA’s attempt to state its advocacy position emphasized its use of science is significant to climate change studies. What’s more, in EPA’s FY 2013 budget proposal, EPA has shown its ongoing efforts in supporting the national fuel economy and constructing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Standards Program.
The budget for this program includes a $10 millon increase in the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory for certification and compliance testing programs and in evaluating new biofuels technologies. All EPA 2013 budget endorses American president Obama’s vision of an American that develops sustainably (Milbourn, 2012). EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson made a statement when she left Cabinet after State of Union that the need to address climate change was quite urgent. She supported Obama’s positive attitude towards human health and environment protection (Johnson, 2012). 2. EPA values and interests As aforementioned, the mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment. To be more specific, the values and interests of EPA are different in nature but consistent in EPA’s claim to manage climate change. Interests represent EPA’s desire or goals to achieve something especially in a conflict situation (Maiese, 2012). It is notable that there exist conflict between human health and energy use: on one hand, people want to live healthily; on the other hand, human activities at present inevitably contribute to the production of greenhouse gas so as to prompt climate change.
Under such circumstance, EPA positions itself as a facilitator to reduce the threat to human life and elevate the environment condition where people live (EPA, 2012). It is the goal that EPA aims to achieve, and human health is their priority. By contrast, values are ways people see the world and the fundamental ideas they believe are right (Maiese, 2012). EPA states that to protect the environment is all the people’s responsibility. It believes that climate change affects everyone because people’s daily life is closely connected with the climate.
A changing climate in the degrading environment can lead to a shortage of people’s water supplies, power systems, and human safety. If no efforts are to be made to reduce the risks of climate change to human life, the world in which the next generations live will have to face more disasters (EPA, 2012). In general, EPA focuses on the amelioration of the current condition of climate change in order to shape a more environment-friendly world in the future. The most important task so far is to raise everyone’s awareness of stopping climate change since everyone has the responsibility. . EPA’s use of science 3. 1 Role of science Scientific research plays a prominent role in managing climate change, and EPA tries to use science to support their interests and values. It is known that science has led to a better understanding of climate change and proves the general conclusions made by previous scientists in the past few years. It confirms that the causes of climate change originate from human activity rather than the natural forces and the effects of climate change are very serious (Leggett, 2007).
To further study the direct cause of climate, EPA manifests that the temperature of the earth is the main factor, while it is the greenhouse effect that keeps a high heat of the earth atmosphere. With the industrial development, humans began to exert growing influence on climate, particularly through increasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases to the earth atmosphere (NRC, 2010). In addition, since the 20th century, most of the global warming under observation is owing to greenhouse gas emissions by human beings (NRC, 2002). The figure below demonstrates the change.
Figure: Earth’s temperature change in the 20th century [pic] Source: Hegerl et al. , 2007 It can be observed that with human-caused greenhouse gases emissions, the earth’s temperature soared in the mid-20th century. In another word, human hold responsible to climate change. To comprehensively address climate change and raise people’s consciousness of environment protection, EPA uses science to tell people about why climate is changing, its impacts and adaptation, indicators for observing climate change, and prediction of future climate dynamics (EPA, 2012).
This in turn warns people about the potential serious effects of climate change and appeals them to participate into the actions to stop climate change. 3. 2 Use of science to support values and interests The values and interests of EPA are presented previously that EPA aims at ameliorating the current condition of climate change for the sake of creating a world where people can live healthily and in harmony with the environment. EPA values everyone’s responsibility of slowing down climate change as the most important for the reason that everyone contributes to and shares the effects of climate change.
EPA thereby attempts to convince people by using science that if their efforts can congregate together, the climate change will not become a threat. Since EPA considers climate change is related to everyone’s daily activity, and it is not just a simple slogan, EPA adopts the common-sense approach to develop standards for greenhouse gas emissions. Under the guidance of the Clean Air Act which is an American federal law, EPA is able to respond to the law actively by taking a series of common-sense-procedures to face the challenge of climate change.
It is acknowledged that all the people should get to know the basic scientific facts about climate change, and if no actions are taken, our planet will fall into a very dangerous state (Clark & Gleick, 2010). That is to say, taking actions can save human from confronting catastrophic results. To EPA, human health and environment are two important objectives it endeavors to protect. Besides, the sustainable development of the next generation is also the top concern. In this case, people now have to understand how to reduce greenhouse gas in everyday life from the basic common sense.
EPA, therefore, tells people to use electricity more, burn woods less, keep recycling, save water at home, at the office, on the road and at school. It presents them how much greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced and at the same time how much money can be saved through replacing the old energy source with new eco-friendly energy (EPA, 2012). All these common senses are supported by science: using mathematic calculation to make people be aware of the significance and benefits to be green, and thus be healthy. For instance, EPA shows people to have a full load of their dishwasher when it is running.
This can save up to 100 pounds of carbon dioxide with approximately $40 money being saved per year (EPA, 2012). Such common sense enables people to learn how to be a smart energy user. All these efforts and EPA’s use of science are consistent with EPA’s values and interests because the goal is to involve everyone in taking actions to adapt to climate change and in an effort to stop it. It is no doubt an undeniable fact that climate change is not a single person or only an advocacy body’s responsibility to face with and manage, instead, it needs everyone’s participation.
However, to really involve everyone requires enough patience and time. 4. Conclusions To sum up, the report made an investigation into the use of science by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to climate change. The report chose EPA for the study because it has clear stand on climate change. In another word, it advocates people to take actions to prevent the climate change from becoming worse. The report presented EPA’s contribution in the debate on climate change that EPA has new releases, published papers on climate change as well as media appearances by its administrator.
The report then demonstrated EPA’s values and interests in order to understand EPA’s advocacy positions in climate change. To be more specific, EPA focuses on the amelioration of the current condition of climate change in order to shape a more environment-friendly world in the future. The most important task so far is to raise everyone’s awareness of stopping climate change since everyone has the responsibility. After that, EPA’s use of science was given to look at how it tries to support its values and interest.
For one thing, by manifesting scientific information on climate change, EPA shows people the importance and people’s mission to deal with it; for another, by using common-sense approach with science calculation to help people get involved in taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All in all, EPA’s use of science successfully supports its values and interests. Reference List Clark, W. C. , & Gleick, P. H. (2010). Climate change and the integrity of science. Science, 328(5979), 689-690. Environmental Defense Fund. 2012). Overview of EPA endangerment finding. Retrieved from http://www. edf. org/climate/overview-epa-endangerment-finding EPA. (2011). EPA’s response to Inspector General’s report on endangerment finding. Retrieved from http://yosemite. epa. gov/opa/admpress. nsf/721aa416060e4eda8525770b006e18b9/64a85204a88e46a785257919006fce32! OpenDocument EPA. (2012). Climate change basics. Retrieved from http://www. epa. gov/climatechange/basics/ EPA. (2012). Our mission and what we do. Retrieved from http://www. epa. gov/aboutepa/whatwedo. tml Hegerl, G. C. , Zwiers, F. W. , Braconnot, P. , Gillett, N. P. , Luo, Y. , Marengo Orsini, J. A. , Nicholls, N. , Penner, J. E. , & Stott, P. A. (2007). Understanding and attributing climate change. In S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K. B. Averyt, M. Tignor & H. L. Miller (eds. ), Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Johnson, A. (2012).
Statement by EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson announcing her leaving cabinet after State of Union. Retrieved from http://yosemite. epa. gov/opa/admpress. nsf/721aa416060e4eda8525770b006e18b9/3b1c073659f5e6a785257ae100548961! OpenDocument Kaufman, J. (2011). “Carbon Yeti” snares City of Bellevue an EPA “Clean Air Excellence Award”. Retrieved from http://yosemite. epa. gov/opa/admpress. nsf/721aa416060e4eda8525770b006e18b9/14401a7faa2166cb852578a90059f915! OpenDocument Laguna, P. (2012). Use science to address climate change. Retrieved from http://www. hilstar. com/science-and-technology/2012/11/29/875809/%E2%80%98use-science-address-climate-change%E2%80%99 Leggett, J. A. (2007). Climate change: Science and policy implications. CRS Report for Congress. Maiese, M. (2012). Interests, positions, needs, and values. Retrieved from http://www. beyondintractability. org/bi-essay/interests Milbourn, C. (2012). EPA’s FY 2013 budget proposal focuses on core environmental and human health protections / EPA budget supports President Obama’s vision of an America that is built to last.
Retrieved from http://yosemite. epa. gov/opa/admpress. nsf/721aa416060e4eda8525770b006e18b9/d38e604ef465557a852579a3005f4630! OpenDocument NRC (2002). Abrupt climate change: Inevitable surprises. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA. NRC (2010). Advancing the science of climate change. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA. Total Environment Centre. (2012). Climate change. Retrieved from http://www. tec. org. au/climate-change