Cap and Trade: Solution to Global Warming?

Cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing industry sources with flexibility in how they comply. Successful cap and trade programs reward innovation, efficiency, and early action and provide strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.

The goal of this legislation is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned to create energy. The increase in these gasses over the last century has been shown to contribute to climate change and global warming. The incentive created by Cap and Trade is for industry is to invest in renewable green energies as a replacement for the current dependence on fossil fuels (mostly oil and coal) to produce energy.

Examples of successful Cap and Trade programs include the nationwide Acid Rain Program and the regional NOx Budget Trading Program in the Northeast. Additionally, EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) on March 10, 2005, to build on the success of these programs and achieve significant additional emission reductions.

Search Activity

Essential questions for critical thinking (you can substitute or add others):

  • What proof is there that global warming is caused by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
  • How do the benefits of Cap and Trade legislation compare to the costs?
  • How is a carbon tax different and also the same as the Cap and Trade legislation?
  • Who opposes Cap and Trade and why?
  • How can this legislation help to promote the development of green energy?


Using the Virtual Library’s online resources SIRS Knowledge Source or Opposing Viewpoints

Type “Cap and Trade legislation” in the Search box.

Select Keyword Search

Also in SIRS Knowledge Source in the Pro vs Con box select “more issues” then select Global Warming

Cold War Games

Many analysts cite 1989 (the year the Berlin Wall fell) as the end of the Cold War. But there was no hint of thawing relations between the world’s two superpowers at the beginning of the decade at the Moscow Olympic Games.

In fact, there were no American athletes at the games at all. This was because U.S. president Jimmy Carter ordered a boycott of the games in response to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

But President Carter was playing a game of his own—he was trying to draw international attention to Soviet actions in Afghanistan while keeping American actions there secret. President Carter’s boycott, which 61 other countries supported, successfully put Russian officials on the defensive and brought the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan back into the international spotlight. President Carter was also successful in keeping U.S. involvement in Afghanistan secret.

Afghanistan was one of the Cold War’s battlefields, where Americans hoped to weaken the Soviets without fighting them directly. As such, according to Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the United States more or less goaded the Soviets into invading Afghanistan. For months before the invasion, Brzezinski said in a 1998 interview, the United States had been arming anti-Communist Muslim fighters (the mujahideen).

In providing weapons to the Afghan mujahideen, Brzezinski implied, the Carter administration was knowingly—and, what’s more, deliberately—increasing the likelihood that the Soviets would invade Afghanistan to prop up Kabul’s Communist government.

The Afghan mujahideen enjoyed considerable support
from the United States in the 1980’s.
© Getty Images

It’s clear then that the 1980 boycott had to do with a larger game than the Olympics—a game played between the Soviet Union and the United States for much higher stakes.


Olympic Boycotts: Always Tricky

Learning Activity

  • How might wider knowledge of American actions in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion have weakened support for the U.S.-led Olympic boycott?
  • Why might people who advocated boycotting the 2008 Beijing games seek to downplay or suppress information about rebel crimes in Darfur?
  • Tensions within states—not only between states—are also sometimes on display during Olympic games. For example, indigenous Canadians have objected to the design and use of the inukshuk (an indigenous stone landmark) as the symbol of the 2010 Vancouver games. The inukshuk is an important cultural symbol that objectors feel is being used inappropriately.
  • In Credo Reference read about the bombing of Guernica”. This sections explain the symbolic importance to the Basques of the ancient oak tree in Guernica.  Pretend that Spain (rather than Brazil) won its bid to host the 2016 Winter Olympics and decided to use an oak tree as its symbol for the games. Would the Basques likely support or reject such a symbol and why? What would such a symbol communicate to the rest of the world about Madrid’s values and relationship to the Basque Country?
  • Brain Teasers – Where

    blogimage011510_1This week: Where?

    This brainteaser asks where particular places or things can be found. But beware! You may find some of the questions are not as straightforward as you might think. Need help? Try Credo Reference.

    1. Where is Ayers Rock or Uluru?

    2. Where are the Urals?

    3. Where is Guantanamo Bay?

    4. Where is the Auteuil viaduct?

    5. Where would you find a Plimsoll line?

    6. Where would you find Gozo and Comino?

    7. Where would you find Virginia Plain?

    8. Where is the metatarsus?

    9. Where is the Mare Orientale?

    10. Where are the Islets (or Islands) of Langerhans?

    Find the answers here.

    Politics and the Olympic Games

    Black Power salute at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City (1968)

    Although the modern Olympic Games were founded on the notion of international cooperation, the games have sometimes fallen prey to forces and events that have undermined this original ideal. Protests, boycotts, and even terrorism have become a part of Olympic history.

    From the 1950s to the 1980s, rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, which was rooted in the struggle of the Cold War, resulted in each country boycotting the games hosted by the other (Moscow in 1980, and Los Angeles in 1984).

    Politics have also influenced the Olympics in other ways, such as the Nazi propaganda in the 1936 Berlin games and the pressures that led to the exclusion of athletes from white-ruled Rhodesia from the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Munich was also the site of the most violent episode in Olympic history, in which nine Israeli athletes were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

    In these and other incidents, the Olympics became a platform for various individuals or groups to promote their particular political agendas.

    Learning Activity

    Find and read articles  to understand the historical context of these events—what happened, what the motivations of the key players were, what the political effect of these actions was on the world at large, etc.

    Olympic Boycotts – a Bad Idea

    Pointless to Some – Time hasn’t healed everything for the 1980 U.S. Olympians who didn’t have a chance to compete.

    The Olympics

    Olympic Boycotts: Always Tricky

    Playing the Game: Drugs and politics in the Olympics

    Find other articles in SIRS Knowledge Source

    • Do you think individuals, groups or nations are ever justified in using the Olympic Games as a political platform?
    • Should athletes and the nations they represent put aside promoting their various political ideologies during the Games in order to foster a spirit of world cooperation, or can the Olympics sometimes represent an opportunity to bring attention to some of the world’s most pressing problems?

    History of Modern Olympic Games

    The first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896

    The 1896 revival of the Olympic Games of ancient Greece came about under the direction of Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937).

    Founded on the ideals of world cooperation and athletic excellence, the first modern games were held in Athens, Greece. Since then, barring times of international conflict, the Olympics have been held throughout the world, with the number of competitors, nations, and events increasing steadily.

    For others, the Olympics are a modern manifestation of an ancient tradition; they offer a chance to revel in feelings of national pride based on the athletic accomplishments of their countrymen and women. And for still others, the Olympics are a time of international cooperation; athletes and spectators from around the world get to know each other. The games celebrate the diversity of the world’s peoples, countries, and cultures.

    People participate in and watch the Olympics for a variety of reasons. For many, the Olympic Games provide an unsurpassed opportunity to see some of the world’s most gifted athletes in competition.

    Path Finder – these articles along with others can be found in SIRS Knowledge Source

    Learning Activity

    • Explore the history of the Olympic Games. Pay particular attention to the historical timeline, read some of the periodical articles dealing with Olympic history and ideals, and look at a number of the photos that have been taken during the games.
  • Then assign students to write a 500- to 1,000-word personal essay on what the Olympic Games mean to them. Caution students about relying too heavily on generalities in their essays. Have them support their ideas about what the Olympics mean by referring to specific events in the history of the Olympic Games and/or by referring to memories they have of watching the games.