Global Warning: Sweeping forest floors uncovers dirt on Trump administration

Anna Silverman

“Global Warning” is a column discussing relevant environmental concerns that our planet faces today. The column aims to provide thought-provoking commentary on such issues and offer reasonable solutions that will propel our world towards sustainability.

Trump: “[The climate will] start getting cooler–just you watch.”

Crowfoot: “I wish science agreed with you.”

Trump: “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

This was the conversation between President Donald J. Trump and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot during Trump’s September visit to the wildfire-ravaged state. Crowfoot’s response to Trump was based in truth–the climate isn’t cooling. Instead, global temperatures are fast approaching the 1.5° Celsius increase predicted to cause irreversible damage to global health. 

As for Trump, well, he’s taken to Twitter once again to express his thoughts.

In 2018, Trump issued his first statement blaming California for its devastating fires, tweeting that “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California except that forest management is so poor.” He then demanded the state “… remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” In 2020, he repeated this sentiment in lieu of the worst wildfire season in recorded state history, declaring at a Pennsylvania rally on Sept. 18 that he’s “been telling [California] this now for three years, but they don’t want to listen” and reiterating his threat to “make them pay for it.”

Trump needs to stop publicly targeting these defamations toward California and start leading America in the fight against climate change. Most of the president’s threats prove hollow anyways, considering the federal government controls 57 percent of California forest territory and he signed a billion-dollar deal to aid with fire mitigation efforts only two days after his Pennsylvania comments. Furthermore, on Oct. 16, he approved the disaster relief declaration and subsequent funding after almost rejecting it the previous day. The real consequences of these statements lie in their dividing effect, as political polarization further impedes any action on behalf of climate issues. 

The signs of global warming are everywhere: California’s precipitation rate dropped by 30 percent this year, and this past summer, temperatures across the state and nation reached record highs. Dried vegetation with low moisture replenishment are both factors that sparked the devastating wildfire season this year, which has scorched a record of four million acres so far and generated six of the largest fires in California history. This is not about forest management; this is about climate management, an area in which the government has consistently failed our country.

So far, during his four years in office, Trump’s administration has passed a total of 68 environmental rollbacks of their 100-rollback end goal, according to the New York Times. These have repealed or reduced funding for many Obama-era advancements on climate research and regulations for emissions, fracking, habitat destruction and air/water quality. Trump’s attacks on California are conduits to completely redirect the blame and attention from the faults of his administration towards our burning and suffering state.

Instead of repealing the fragile line of defenses against the imminent climate crisis, the government needs to start reacting to the obvious signs that the earth is degrading and that human activities are to blame. If nothing is done to regulate our emissions, the wildfires will become the least of our worries as global populations, ecosystems and human health are compromised due to overextension of our carbon budget.

Despite his tendency toward slander, Trump has made one solid point in his wildfire tweet saga: California must employ controlled burns in order to reduce fire devastation and regularity. This will most likely be one of the solutions to the wildfire issue, but it is just a short-term fix and certainly not the end-all-be-all for the increasingly concerning crisis. 

As a California resident and a member of Generation Z, I have been subject to some of the most obvious signs of climate change yet. Over the last couple of months, students from Redwood and all across California have seen skies ranging from hazy grey-blue to Halloween-worthy orange. Our demographic is on the frontlines of climate wrath, so although we never elected to face this issue, it is our responsibility to push for the change that will save our futures.

The number of protests and organizations dedicated to environmentalism are increasing, with platforms clearly begging officials to make a change. Regardless of who you are, where you live or your relation to government affairs, it is incredibly important, now more than ever, to advocate for both civilian and government actions to reduce the rate of global warming. Educate yourself on the science behind your impact on the earth, join the hundreds of local and national environment-focused groups and lobby government officials to enforce regulations on emissions and resource use. Our collective efforts have not and will not go unnoticed. However, while grassroots promotion of sustainable lifestyles and state-specific regulations are making a difference, the federal government truly dictates our climate impact and needs to take charge of these issues. 

Trump’s administration has the power to start conservation and sustainability initiatives by rejoining the Paris Accords and starting legislative conversations about imposing regulations. In order to mitigate future climate consequences, our government must drastically reform their current policies. Emissions need to be cut, not taxes, and trickle-down economics needs to change into trickle-down environmentalism.