Trump’s America not about the changing climate, but it should be

Luke Dahlin

According to the Constitution of the United States, the federal government was established for six specific purposes: unity, justice, domestic tranquility, defense, promotion of the general welfare of the citizens and liberty for all.  And unless you believe the size of the federal government should be just a small step above one of anarchy, climate change acknowledgment and prevention legislation is something well within the duties of our federal, state and local governments.

Justice, for example, to hold those accountable for creating negative externalities for the general public, which includes rising sea levels, melting polar ice caps, increased strength and unpredictability of storms, biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, ocean acidification and global temperature rise.

Defense against said potential externalities, which is linked 400,000 deaths worldwide, and is projected to increase to over 600,000 per year by 2030, according to a study performed by DARA, an international humanitarian assistance agency.

Welfare of citizens, ensuring that the people are provided with the sustainable natural resources necessary to not only survive, but succeed, without sacrificing the future well-being of these same citizens.

And most importantly, liberty. Liberty to be able to swim in clean oceans, breathe unpolluted air, adventure and experience the natural environment and live without the burden of a massive fossil fuel footprint just to watch television or cook breakfast.

Unfortunately, it seems that President Donald Trump will not be contributing significant, if any, government funds to the cause of limiting climate change. In fact, Trump has already ordered a freeze in spending from the Environmental Protection Agency and has committed to “cancel billions of dollars in global warming payments to the United Nations,” labeling spending on climate change as both wasteful and not worthwhile. This is something also evidenced by his cabinet appointments. Trump’s picks include Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, who has the motivations of, well, a CEO of one of the largest international crude oil corporations ever, and Scott Pruitt for the EPA, who has previously sued the agency on 14 separate occasions.

Whether you agree with the policies or rhetoric of Trump or not, the appointments of people like Pruitt are unjustifiable. The reason for agencies like the EPA is to protect the natural environment, and attempting to appoint people whose ulterior motives are against the purpose of the agency is absolutely ludicrous.

All of this is coming from a man who previously claimed that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, who simply denied its existence and, somehow least alarmingly, claims that it isn’t an issue that concerns Americans.

This is now a reality that didn’t exist just weeks ago. The Obama administration was the most active and environmentally-conscious administration ever. It passed over 4,000 environmentally-protective sanctions. Obama subsidized green energy, doubling the amount of renewable energy generated in just his first term. He has also introduced several long-term proposals, including incorporating 10 gigawatts of green energy annually onto the grid by 2020. In addition, Obama made efforts to expand the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to permanently protect various coral reefs, marine habitats, and ecological resources, adding to a tremendous total of 550 million acres throughout his tenure.

We’ve taken for granted the momentous environmental actions taken by this past administration, it may now come as a  shock to have to actually advocate on behalf of the natural environment.

Trump’s inauguration begs the question: how much emphasis should the government place on climate change, of which the impacts aren’t immediate or initially harmful, compared to the large amounts of jobs and energy that coal provides?

The answer: a lot.

As the leader of the free world, it is President Trump's responsibility to do what's right for his constituents, limiting climate change. But, if he won't, it is now our responsibility to advocate that he does
As the leader of the free world, it is President Trump’s responsibility to do what’s right for his constituents, limiting climate change. But, if he won’t, it is now our responsibility to advocate that he does

The truth is that climate change currently exists as a long-term issue, but it sure is on its way to becoming a short-run problem as well. A product of this global warming is the increasing strength and frequency of storms and extreme weather patterns, which are now even evident on our own school campus. It is irresponsible to deny that this has a direct correlation to the senseless emissions of the human race, and the United States in particular.

Thus far, there has even been tumult against Trump’s anti-environment intentions within the federal government; The National Park Service, of the Department of the Interior, is the most prominent example. After Trump’s inauguration, the Badlands National Park  twitter account launched a series of tweets promoting climate change science and awareness. This vigorous campaign, which, arguably, is aimed toward the Trump administration, soon found itself shut down, the account frozen, and the tweets themselves taken down from the website. A perfect example that climate change is quite obviously being transitioned out of the eye of the white house alongside the previous administration.

Trump’s cabinet picks have even begun to realize that, yes, climate change is real and has an effect on our world, which is a big step forward considering the overall distrust or disbelief in the issue from the administration.

Additionally, his appointee to lead the Department of Energy, Rick Perry, stated during his congressional appointment hearing, “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity. The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs.”

That is, at least in part, something that we can all agree on, and it is a promising transition for this transition team. However, that does not change the fact that, potentially, due to Perry and the new energy department, future dependence on clean energy is likely to dramatically decrease in the not so distant future.

It is the purpose of the U.S. federal government, according to the Constitution, to defend, promote the welfare of, instituting justice on behalf of, and provide the opportunity of liberty for its citizens. Climate change is an issue that infiltrates all of these government responsibilities. Now, however, due to irresponsibility regarding the issue in both the White House and in Congress, it is now on the individual to advocate green practices and incorporate these lifestyles into their lives.

No, Mr. Trump, we don’t.