Europe Vs. America and the Environment

My recent post about the European move to ban incandescent light bulbs started me wondering how Europe and the United States compare in their attempts or resolve to tackle climate change and related challenges.

I guess it is usually assumed that Europe is somewhat farther along on the road to dealing with this problem. The funny thing is that even if that were so, I think, the US may be better positioned to succeed. The United States has, by nature, a greater capacity for igniting radical change. True, the change that takes place may not always be for the better, but things actually do happen – stuff gets done. Change can be piece-meal, one step at a time. Change can surge ahead in one area and lag in another. Change can be contradictory (like many things American) and yet acceptable without jeopardizing an entire agenda. Maybe the success of America, in general, is based on its sometimes schizophrenic tolerance for such contradiction ?

Europeans, on the other hand (and I say this thinking of myself as a true Euro becoming more and more American by osmosis), seem to waste a lot of time and hot air on aiming for the perfect, all encompassing dream-like solution. After fascism, communism, nationalism, and all the other -isms, they’re are always seraching for the next ISM. They have made great commendable strides towards a unified Europe and acting to stop global warming. But a fair amount of idealism seems to always overshadow policy making, that is then thrown overboard when it comes to the business of implentation. America is much more pragmatic. I hope that I am wrong and that both sides of the Atlantic will be equally successful in dealing with global warming. But right now, I would put more money on Barack Obama and the momentum in the US than on Europe.

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