Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, and that fact isn’t going to change. There are a lot of legitimate concerns surrounding a Trump presidency, but we have to respect the results of the election and move on as we have throughout this nation’s history. We have to focus now on voicing our concerns to the new administration and persisting in progress, rather than obstruction. The greatest and most relevant concern we have to address is Trump’s environmental policy.
To win the support of the workers of the coal industry, Trump promised to promote coal power, cut back on funding for alternative energy, and repeal Obama administration regulations placed on carbon emissions from power plants. In September, it was reported that Trump planned to have Myron Ebell, an infamous climate-change denier and lobbyist for the natural gas producer, Koch Companies Public Sector L.L.C., lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump’s coal-first policy stands at odds immediately with the U.S. pledge in Paris to “reduce its emissions by at least twenty-six percent.” The Obama administration regulations finalized by the EPA were key to that pledge, but it’s likely that Ebell will follow through on Trump’s promise to make such regulations disappear if he becomes head of the EPA.
The alternative energy companies are well aware too of Trump’s stance on the environment and climate change. Wind and solar energy companies took a hit in the stock market right after Trump won the presidency, expecting exactly the worst from his administration after eight years of growth under the Obama administration. It’s a major step back for alternative energy even as the technology to make alternative energy as affordable as coal comes into the fold.
It can be argued that people have been making Trump’s win out to be the start of an apocalypse. And in relation to the man’s ability to lead the nation, it may just be an exaggeration. But in relation to the planet, it’s a very real fear.
As a reminder of the severity of climate change, experts have stressed in recent articles the kind of consequences we could be looking forward to. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is known to be conservative in its reports examining the state of climate science, but its latest report can’t help but state the severity of the present situation: “Several periods of rapid food and cereal price increases following climate extremes in key producing regions indicate a sensitivity of current markets to climate extremes among other factors.” Climate change isn’t just raising the sea level; it’s also threatening food security. Worldwide starvation isn’t just a speculation, according to the IPCC. This is reality, and it’s approaching closer and closer with each year.
Joseph J. Romm, a highly influential climate expert, has looked closer into the collateral damage on civilization. He has stated that climate change indirectly increases the likelihood of violent conflicts by “amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.” Droughts, failing food security, and ever more severe natural disasters only put more pressure on countries, allowing conditions within a country to deteriorate to the point of civil war. Under these circumstances, the future will be dealing with dozens of failed states and an even greater refugee crisis than the one currently seen across the Atlantic.
And the countries at most risk? Those which are far from home. And those south of the border.
As it stands, what Romm says the United States needs to do to prevent this future is undertake “aggressive efforts to slash carbon pollution starting now.” If Trump reverses the progress of alternative energy and carbon emission reduction, this future will be inevitable. We have to inform Americans of the relevant consequences of climate change and build up a vocal base against Trump’s environmental policies. From letters to representatives to an online petition against Trump’s pick for the head of the EPA, we have a versatile array of tools to make our concerns heard by the administration.
It’s important to remember that Trump is as much an opportunist as any politician. if enough people of this country recognize the importance of climate change, he may well change his stance to one better for the country and the planet.