In the wake of the election, protesters, the media, and even Broadway actors have voiced their concerns about a Trump presidency. He ran a nasty campaign, one built on lewd remarks about women, islamophobic sentiments, and promises to restrict access to abortion and reproduction care for women. Just to name a few. But it’s not only what Trump has said, and since reinforced with his appointment of ex-Breitbart executive Stephen Bannon as chief strategist, but what he has ignored that may pose one of the biggest threats to the United States, and the world, long after Trump leaves the Oval Office.
With entirely unfounded statement that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, the deteriorating environment seems to be the least of Trump’s concerns. He has stated that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, a political claim that scares not only American environmentalists, but government leaders from all over the world.
Trump will take office on January 20, and with the new administration, we may see drastic changes in the social and economic outlook of the country as a whole, and as impactful as they may be, no president, or law, is truly permanent.
But will the newfound ignorance and denial of climate change in the White House be something we can afford?
In 2011, the United States was responsible for 17% of the total carbon emission in the world. In 2015, atmospheric CO2 exceeded 400 parts per million, the highest level in more than 800,000 years. 2014 saw the highest recorded the ocean temperatures and sea levels ever as a result of the increased carbon level in the atmosphere.
But these numbers alone do not fully express the damage done by expedited climate change. Spike in temperatures worldwide have led to droughts, worsening storms, and spread of diseases. In 2003, a record-breaking heat wave in Europe killed 15,000 people in France alone. Malaria and cholera have both been proven to spread more rapidly under warmer conditions.
And it’s only projected to get worse.
This election marked a pivotal turning point for the environmentalist movement. We are the last generation with the power to heal a damaged globe. Left unchecked, most of the state of Florida and entire coast of California could be underwater by 2050 as a result of rising sea levels due to global. These impending years are crucial. Will we continue Obama’s unfinished business as a leader of the UN conventions on climate change, or will we reverse his work, and take the backseat as the climate trickles into disarray? Will we take responsibility for the detriment humans have caused to the planet, or simply brush it off as the natural ebb and flow of the climate over time? Will we take action to cut back out carbon emissions, or will we allow the ignorance of the president elect drive our environmental ethics?
For the time being, there is only one planet habitable by the human race. While the Trump administration may be one of unsavory social policy, all of that can be fixed in a few years with the right legislation and leadership. If we let the Trump administration neglect the environment, that damage may not be undone.