Written by: Nick Corder
Throughout Earth’s history, scientists acknowledge 5 different mass extinctions. These catastrophes have been caused by events like volcanic eruptions and giant asteroids. Today, however, we could possibly be living in the sixth extinction, and it is not the result of an outside force. For the first time ever, one of Earth’s own species is killing off much of the planet’s biodiversity, and that species is us.
Recent predictions by NASA scientists show that the average temperature of the Earth will increase by 2.5 to 10 degrees fahrenheit over the next 100 years. This prediction has disastrous implications for the environment. By the year 2110, sea levels have the potential to rise by 10 feet, an event that would cause significant problems for island and coastal communities. A rising ocean also means stronger tropical storms and changing precipitation patterns, both of which have significant impacts on ecological systems. The solution to the problem of climate change is not simple, but one small action could vastly alleviate the effects: stop using fossil fuels as fast as possible.
However, there are certain individuals, namely the president-elect, Donald Trump, that do not plan on reducing carbon emissions. In fact, he proposes reviving the dying coal industry in order to create new jobs, a decision that is simply outdated. In addition to his thoughts on coal, Trump has expressed discontent with US involvement in the Paris Agreement. At one point, he even suggested that he would “cancel” US affiliation. This agreement, which brought together 195 countries from around the world, constitutes a promise that each country lower fossil fuel emissions, and even though it is not everything that is needed, the Paris Agreement is the first major step towards international cooperation in regard to climate change.
The president-elect’s stance on this issue is understandable when one considers that Trump and the new head of his EPA transition team, Myron Ebell, are both notorious climate change deniers. As a result of this belief, Trump plans to redirect “billions in climate change spending,” a plan that would affect the American people for generations to come. For instance, one of the ways Trump plans to cut down spending is the gradual dissolution of the EPA. China, a country where an organization like the EPA is not sponsored by government, deals with “tens of thousands of additional deaths” every year at the hands of air contamination.
In an open letter to Trump, more than 800 earth science and energy experts have come together to petition the 45th president. They argue that climate change “threatens America’s economy, national security, and public safety.” They list six necessary steps to avoid “disaster”:
- Make America a clean energy leader.
- Reduce carbon pollution and America’s dependence on fossil fuels.
- Enhance America’s climate preparedness and resilience.
- Publicly acknowledge that climate change is real, human caused, and an urgent threat.
- Protect scientific integrity in policymaking.
- Uphold America’s commitment to the Paris agreement.
With Trump admitting that there is “some connectivity” between human action and climate change, many are feeling hopeful about our environmental future under Trump. Do not let his words prevent you from action. This is the same man that wants to “scrap” the Clean Power Plan and permit the Keystone XL oil pipeline. As citizens, we must ensure that each and every step on this list is carried out, but it is the power of the citizenry, not that which is invested in the executive branch, that is going to get this done. A few years ago, the asteroid was on the horizon, but now he’s in the White House. We must act now.