Where I Stand Climate change: Reality, not apartisan issue
On the day after Thanksgiving, the White House released the fourth National Climate Assessment, an interagency effort involving 13 federal agencies and more than 300 leading climate scientists, culminating in a comprehensive and authoritative report on climate change and its impacts within the United States.
The report concludes “that the evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming and continues to strengthen, that the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic well-being are rising.”
With regards to the report as a whole, President Donald Trump said, “I’ve seen it. I’ve read some of it. And it’s fine.” But when questioned about the report’s assessment of the potential economic consequences of climate change —that it could cause U.S. economic losses of hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — Trump doubled down on his history of climate change skepticism, saying, “I don’t believe it.”
From an environmental perspective, Trump’s presidency has been characterized by a sharp departure from Obama-era agreements and regulatory policies that aimed to curtail pollution and slow the effects of climate change. After Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord in June of 2017, his administration began to roll back conservation efforts and restrictions on carbon and methane emissions, most notably freezing the vehicle emission and fuel economy standards put in place toward the end of Obama’s presidency and rescinding California’s ability to set its own vehicle standards.
It comes as no surprise that Trump — who campaigned on promises to make the U.S. energy independent and more welcoming to industrial production — has made cutting environmental regulations and restrictions a priority. As a result, the U.S. recently became the world’s largest producer of crude oil. In addition, following the stagnation of employment growth in manufacturing during the last 21 months of Obama’s presidency, employment in the industry has increased tenfold over the same period of time since Trump’s inauguration.
But while Trump’s slashing of environmental red tape has yielded some short-term success in both energy production and returning manufacturing jobs to the U.S., it fails to consider the long-term implications of climate change.
According to the National Climate Assessment, “climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and rate of economic growth.”
The report goes on to describe the negative consequences of climate change with regards to agriculture: “Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.”
Furthermore, the report concludes that, “without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.”
Faced with overwhelming evidence of human-caused climate change in a non-partisan report from within his own administration, it is imperative that Trump first reconsider his opinions concerning climate change, and ultimately reimplement the environmental policies that he has cut for the sake of short-term economic gain.
In order to effectively address the very real consequences of climate change that stand to drastically affect all of our lives in the not-so-distant future, it is essential that we see it for what it really is. Climate change is not a partisan issue — it is an unfortunate reality that requires our immediate attention.
Ryan Yursha is a student at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. He is from Middletown, Delaware.