Waste Not

In the midst of defining his policy agenda, Trump raises concerns for the future of climate change

Waste Not

The ultimate outsider just left climate change concerns on the doorstep.

While President-Elect Donald J. Trump campaigned, he guaranteed to reverse many of President Obama’s green initiatives, including the Paris Agreement which was set to reduce global temperature changes by less than 2 degrees Celsius.

Andrew Jones, co-director of Paris Agreement, said the U.S. pledged to cut 22 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2016-2030, around 20 percent of the total worldwide pledges.

It’s understandable that with a shift in administration, environmental prevalence switches as well. When President Bush was elected following President Clinton he removed U.S. involvement in the Kyoto Protocol.

The earliest Trump could back out of the Paris Agreement would be one year after taking office. Such a step involves dropping out of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change, thus negating the agreement among many world leaders that climate change is a “top-tier issue,” Jake Schmidt, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said.

Internationally and nationally, environmental legislation under the Trump administration remains unpredictable.

Another of Trump’s promised reversals was reducing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a mere advisory board. In effect, our president-elect would opt to dismantle what was hopeful progress in research and regulation. This has the potential to devastate ecosystems as well as health.

The new head of the EPA is Myron Ebell, funded by coal companies and one of the very lobbyists “outsider” Trump formerly critiqued, who is now a member of his team.

Ebell is in charge of environmental and energy policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Among his criticisms of environmental-based regulation is a claim that President Obama’s White House science advisor “specializes in science fiction.”

Similarly, implications that climate change is a Chinese hoax were widely spread by the president-elect while on the campaign trail. Scientific data breaks this claim.

In a recent documentary “Before the Flood,” Professor of Environmental Science at Stockholm University, Johann Roscktrom, said “We are on average moving towards four degree warming this century. And we haven’t been in a four degree warmer world for the past four million years.”

Ambitious progress was seen in 2015, with 9.9 percent of all consumed U.S. energy derived from renewable sources. Following the election, solar and wind companies’ stock fell while oil industry executives reveled.

These are all causes for concern, especially as we consider the environment we want our children to inherit. Even if everyone went zero-waste — it would be a nice thought, an important step — but unfortunately it wouldn’t hold weight against a lessening of environmental regulations.

It can be disheartening to take individual action when collective action falls to the wayside, but there are ways we can raise our voices to incite a community-wide effect.

Encouraging construction in local communities to use green infrastructure and urban agriculture is one of these. We can educate one another on the prevalence of recycling properly, use community gardens and support DNR. Signing petitions and writing letters to government leaders is a concrete way to speak up.

“Politicians, although we call them our elected leaders, are really our elected followers,” Gregory Manikow, Harvard economics professor said in “Before the Flood.” “They do what the people want them to do.”