Environmental Regulations Run Amok With Policy Change

On January 20th, 2017, not only did Donald Trump take an Oath of Office but seemingly one of environmental disregard and destruction too. Within the past year, Trump has revoked the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, withdrawn the U.S. from the 195-country Paris Climate Agreement, revoked a mandate that requires federal agencies to consider climate change when making decisions, and on numerous other occasions ignored scientific data. If these actions don’t speak for the lack of concern for the future Trump possesses (nor the immediate one for lesser developed countries whose most vulnerable people bear the heaviest burden of climate change), some current scientific trends will surely speak louder.

According to NASA, carbon dioxide levels are up by 407.62 parts per million, the highest they have been in 650,000 years; global sea levels have risen about 8 inches in the past century, resulting in flooding of several locations around the U.S, notably Miami and New York City, damaging the infrastructure of both. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes over 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Though 2.5 degrees seems like a small amount, it takes enormous environmental damage to cause this shift on the global scale.

While I had trouble grasping the concept of a world leader denouncing scientific evidence, I’m saddened and equally as frightened that his short-term, nationalistic, economy-driven goals overpower the safety and health of future generations that may not have access to clean air or water, a privilege that we all take for granted. The United States should be at the forefront of clean innovation and should emerge as a world example-setter and as a solver of the climate crisis. Instead of opening up Alaska’s fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and development, our current administration needs to be focused on weaning the country off of non-renewable resources and investing in solar, wind, and water power to make development sustainable. Renewable energy installation, although expensive, eventually pays itself off; isn’t the accessibility of our children, grandchildren, and even us, at this rate, more valuable than short-term economic gain?

There needs to be a major shift in the ethical values of the Trump administration and the American people; legislation can only go so far. Though we are not suffering the consequences of not being able to adapt to climate change to the extent other, poorer countries are, sooner or later due to our extravagant wasting of natural resources we will not be able to avoid the fatal results of our ignorance and inability to act. Instead of harnessing the innovative energy of America, we’ve ignored our potential and the possibility to develop technology for a successful and sustainable future.

– Chloe Tomblin ’19

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