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Trump and climate change: the world's biggest threat is being exacerbated


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A year on from Trump’s election to the Presidential office, between devastating hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and heatwaves, it feels like environmental disasters are hitting the US one after the other. What is being done?

Honestly, ‘nothing’ would be a better answer than the truth. Not only are no steps forward being taken to tackle climate change, but programs that had been implemented by previous administrations are actively being unmade.

One would think the Climate Science Special Report released last week would have made some impact on the environmental stand taken by the Trump administration, as the report directly contradicted much of their position. It was approved by 13 federal agencies and undeniably concluded that humans were the dominant cause of climate change, specifically global temperature increases.

When such a conclusion comes from a report widely recognised as the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of climate change science, it does beg the question, where is the Trump administration getting their information from?

Still, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, maintains that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to the warming, and had the Agency remove all references to climate change from their website, as well as forbidding its scientists from presenting scientific reports on the subject.

Even after the report’s publication, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry upholds that “the science is still out” on whether climate change is caused by human activity.

This would be laughable, were it not so dangerous. The impacts of climate change are no longer theoretical, they are upon us. As the White House, now staffed sky-high with individuals having a history of climate change denial, continues withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, promoting fossil fuel production in its ‘America First Energy Plan' and repealing several climate policies of the Obama era aimed at reducing the US’s carbon output, it’s not just the United States’ fate that is at play, but the entire world’s.

And there lies the most angering aspect of Trump’s stupidity: not only does it show an utter lack of competency as a leader, and clearly demonstrates that his political power is far more important to him than ensuring the survival of our planet, it’s also a complete failure of his moral responsibilities as one of the most powerful political players on the global scene.  

The US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is particularly problematic not just because it’s a renegation of its prior commitment to cutting greenhouse-gas emission by 26-28% by 2025 from 2005 levels, it also sets a dangerous precedent. Once the US withdraws, what’s to stop China, India, and other major polluter nations from feeling that they, too, are now authorised to abandon their moral obligations?

Such attitudes as Trump’s are particularly disgusting when considering the impact on developing nations. Those countries who had almost no part in causing this global crisis nonetheless pledged to the Paris Agreement, and they were promised assistance as they attempt to mitigate the impact of rising global temperatures caused by industrialised nations.

For them to witness the US, a country responsible for 15% of all carbon emissions, reject responsibility for their actions, is horrifying. Those developing countries are, in general, those who are anticipated to suffer most from climate change despite not being the main offenders, nor having many resources with which to cope with such an emergency.

Arguably the Accord’s greatest impact is in its message of unity, representing a shift from isolationism and nationalism towards cooperative action and a collective acknowledgment of responsibility. Trump has violently attempted to destroy this attempt, as the administration withdraws in on itself and chooses to espouse a neo-liberal ideology that has lost its place in this era.  

Are we still hoping for Trump’s impeachment? Until the administration leaves the pocket of huge, corporate polluters and finally face the truth, it’s difficult to envisage the situation getting better. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t all come too little, too late, for it is far more than just the United States’ future in peril.  

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