Combating Climate Change & Poverty

Climate Change and Poverty Alliance (CCPA)

Proposal

The CCPA aims to eliminate poverty in America while simultaneously fighting CO2 emissions into the earth. How? The CCPA will provide solar panel systems to low-income families across America. With this $500,000 grant, the CCPA will be able to provide families these systems at a discounted cost.
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Background

Approximately 46.7 million people in the US are in poverty. That is relatively 14.8% of the whole population (Census Bureau). The poverty rate would decrease if the CCPA can supply impoverished families with solar panels because it will allow the family to save money on their utility bills, which they can spend on other household needs. All costs including equipment, labor and installation, and permits sum to about $19,500. This number seems quite high for something that won't see a return until 10 years after installation, as seen in the picture below. However, the investor will save more than $20,000 in 25 years, which is a 215% return on investment and the longer a homeowner has the solar panels, the more return they will see. It will also raise the property value up by about $15,000 (Maehlum). This is good for low-income families who live in poorer neighborhoods because it makes their homes more attractive to potential buyers.
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Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that about 67% of electricity comes from the burning of fossil fuels in the United States (Independent Statistics and Analysis). Renewable energy, like solar energy, can help reduce this number. The use of solar panels in 30 years has the same affect as planting over 3,000 trees, taking 22 cars off of the road, and recycling 41 tons of waste instead of throwing it in a landfill (Environmental Benefits of Solar Energy). Giving solar panel systems to families in need will help reduce the United States' carbon footprint. This is important for America, considering the U.S. counts for 16% of the entire carbon footprint in the world (Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data).

Rationale

But seriously, how would these solar panels actually help if it takes so long to get a return? Supplying solar panels to families with low incomes would allow the families to focus on other costs besides their utilities. It would raise the property value of their home and neighborhood which will help eliminate the amount of poverty in America. Additionally, it would limit the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere. Fewer fossil fuels would be burnt in order to supply energy and heat to homes, so the carbon footprint would decrease, as well.

Action Plan

The CCPA would directly give low-income families around the U.S. a portion of the $500,000 to purchase solar panel systems. These families would have more money available to spend on other necessities and it would lower the amount of carbon dioxide they emit into the atmosphere. These solar panels are helpful to families and communities in the United States, as well as the rest of the world. Similar to the CCPA, another climate change advocacy group, 350, has already raised their voice. The video below shows their efforts in reversing the effects of climate change from over 5 years ago.
350.org - In every corner of the globe...

Analysis

Climate change is social problem that is structural functional. Poverty is a social problem due to social conflict. Therefore the CCPA's views are both structural functional and social conflict.


Structural functional problems arise due to deficient people, rapid change, or dysfunctions. Climate change is a result of human deficiency - using fossil fuels because it's easier/faster than using renewable energy - and rapid change in the environment. The Amazon Rainforest and surrounding ecosystems has seen more destruction in the past 10 years than in any other decade (Butler). It is up to the human race to stop this destruction and try to fix the problems their deficiency has caused.


Social conflict problems occur when classes, races, or genders become unequal. Poverty is an example of how social classes divide. As previously stated, about 15% of the U.S. population lives in poverty. The division in classes continues to grow as the income gap steadily expands. In order to reverse this class division, the United States needs to take action to reduce the income gap and provide low-income families with the proper means to survive.


Furthermore, the CCPA's views receive more support from liberals than conservatives. Conservatives believe that the government needs to step back and let the problems work themselves out. Climate change can not just "work itself out". Poverty can not just "work itself out". Climate change and poverty are two problems caused by the actions of humans. It is up to humans to react in order reverse what they have done. Liberals hope for sweeping change in society. The only way to see this change is if the government steps in and helps take responsibility for these problems. In order to reverse the effects of poverty and climate change, society needs help from the government.