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Moral Leadership and the Environment

Who is responsible for protecting our Earth?

Glaciers in Chile. CREDIT: Curt Carnemark/World Bank (CC)

The United States is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world, yet the federal government was unwilling to commit to the non-binding Paris Agreement (2016) and the Kyoto Protocol (2005), both of which would mitigate global warming. Certainly,  agreements such as these can only be ratified at the federal level. But with climate change and environmental conservation as ethical issues on the minds of many Americans, the question arises: Does "moral leadership" have to originate from the presidency? Given the way that the U.S. government is structured through a separation of powers, a federal system, and a strong tradition of citizen participation and dissent, where can Americans find "moral leadership" on climate change? Moreover, for an issue like global warming in a capitalist system, is a "moral leader" even necessary, or can solutions simply be found by pragmatic business persons?

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