hot politics

Discussion Questions


  1. Have you noticed recent changes in the weather or unusual weather patterns where you live? If so, describe them.
  2. Do you think recent changes in climate and weather are more attributed to natural or human causes? Explain your reasons.
  3. If you feel humans are the main cause of global warming, do you think you contribute to global warming, and if so, how?
  4. Where do you stand on whether the U.S. government should be doing about global warming and climate change?


  1. Climatologists reported that 1988 was the hottest year on record. What did some scientists like Dr. Jim Hansen say was contributing to this warming?
  2. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush went to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and signed the landmark treaty on climate change agreeing to set voluntary emissions targets.
    • Explain why voluntary standards resonated with both energy companies and labor unions.
    • What kind of political pressure did the coalition of energy companies and labor place on Democrats and Republicans?
  3. President Bill Clinton's 1993 State of the Union address proposed a BTU tax (or energy tax) to help reduce greenhouse gases. Its failure in the Senate was characterized by Philip Clapp as, "They got the policy right, but they got the politics entirely wrong." From information in the program, explain what this statement means.
  4. How did the energy industry respond to the efforts by the Clinton administration and environmentalists to address the concern over greenhouse gases?
    • What factors lend credibility to the energy industry response?
    • What factors seem to discredit the energy industry response?
  5. At the 1995 Berlin Climate Change Convention and again at Kyoto in 1997, the Clinton Administration was both unable to convince China and India to agree to mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and was unable to convince Congress to agree to ratify the treaty.
    • Explain why U.S. industry and much of Congress felt India and China should agree to these cuts if the United States was to agree to them.
    • Explain why developing counties like China and India distrusted the United States pushing them for these cuts.
  6. Describe world reaction to President George W. Bush's eventual decision to reverse his campaign pledge on carbon emissions and then later pull out of the Kyoto Agreement altogether.
  7. As a scientific consensus was growing that global warming was already underway, what efforts did the Bush administration take to address this new evidence?
  8. Three presidential administrations avoided addressing the issue of global warming and climate change. How has recent physical evidence influenced the public to believe something needs to be done?
    • How have state and local politicians like Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger taken up the effort to address global warming and climate change?
    • How have some of the world's largest corporations and key environmental groups joined together to push for the government to impose mandatory limits on carbon emissions?