The Dangers of the Trump Administration Ignoring Climate Change

GIF by Angelina Zheng and Amanda Huang

Annika Agni, Staff Writer

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12 years. That’s how much time we have left to limit global warming with our current greenhouse gas emission rates before the consequences could become catastrophic. The US is currently the second largest emitter of carbon emissions, and yet, the current president and his administration have tried to roll back many Obama-era policies and agreements that would help slow and lessen the effects of climate change. The dangers of having a government that belittles climate change will ultimately affect all of us.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently issued a report stating that global warming can reach a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial levels before the effects could become irreversible. If we continue with our current rate of emissions, the planet will warm 4.8 degrees C by 2100.

To effectively limit global warming, the world has to cut global human-caused carbon dioxide emission rates by 45% of the 2010 rate in the next 12 years, and ultimately reach a net zero by 2050. Already, we are two thirds of the way there with a total of close to 1 degree C warmed, and the effects have been seen around the world, with heat waves and millions having to abandon their homes due to natural disasters caused by climate change.

An estimated 100 million people could be in poverty by 2030, in addition to the 26 million per year who already are because of climate change, according to the World Bank. There would also be an increase in wildfires, hurricanes, and food shortages, all of which could lead to more deaths from climate change. In fact, the World Health Organization has predicted that there could be more than 250,000 deaths annually from climate change alone.

It’s not just humans that will be affected by this. Animals will also be severely impacted. One of the most illuminating examples of how climate change has and will continue to hurt animals can be seen with its devastating effect on polar bears. Sea ice is melting at 14% per decade, leading the polar bear population to  decrease by two thirds by 2050. Polar bears are already on the endangered species list, and have been for about ten years. One study found that many polar bears will soon starve as they have a much harder time hunting seals due to lack of sea ice.

Our entire planet will be affected by climate change. Yet, the Trump administration has focused on helping the very industry that is responsible for being the major source of greenhouse gas emissions-the fossil fuel industry, and has decided to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, many of the major energy advisors in Trump’s administration have links to fossil fuel industries or are climate change deniers themselves.

Trump’s original administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is an open climate change denier. He tried to overturn President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was passed to reduce carbon emissions from coal plants drastically before 2030 by cutting emissions by 32% of the 2005 levels, before his resignation in July 2018.

His replacement, Andrew Wheeler, also wants to rollback the Clean Power Plan, which is unsurprising considering he has been a coal lobbyist in the past. Another advisor, former US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose job was to manage natural resources including coal, is a coal advocate who has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the coal industry.

President Trump also announced that he is planning to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, though he cannot formally do so until 2020. The goal of this agreement is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and checking in with every country every five years to ensure they meet their goals. The US is the only nation of the 197 nations that have signed that has rejected this treaty and intends to leave it. Trump believes that the US must withdraw because it  “disadvantages the US” and its “economic production” while favoring China and India, the first and third largest carbon emitters respectively.

All of this really shouldn’t be surprising considering President Trump has actually tweeted that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” But it doesn’t make it any less troubling. Our president is more concerned about America’s economic standing than the consequences of climate change, though there are actually reports suggesting that not doing anything would lead to a greater economic loss. In fact, a US government report found it would cause the economy to lose billions of dollars and end up reducing America’s GDP by  10% by 2100.

Blatantly ignoring the scientific facts will hurt not just America, but the planet itself. People will die by the millions and the world as we know it will be completely different by the end of the century. Animals and humans are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change, and it’s only going to get worse. America’s carbon emissions are one of the largest in the entire world, and if the Trump administration  continues to neglect making the changes to reduce them fast, our futures will be more perilous than they already are. The dangers of underestimating climate change will be catastrophic, and it may soon be too late.

 

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