When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released an October 2018 report stating that global temperatures will rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030 if leaders do not act against climate change, scientists were shocked at the newly discovered truth. The truth is that the majority of Americans currently alive will live to see increasingly violent weather, in addition to numerous other environmental horrors.
President Trump, however, did not seem to share their concern. Just a week after the report’s release, Trump accused climate change scientists of having a “political agenda” as he scoffed at the belief that humans are responsible for the Earth’s rising temperatures. Yet, 97 percent of scientists studying climate change agree that global warming trends are directly caused by human activity. Trump claims that “something’s changing [about the climate] and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made.” While Trump appears to be backing off some of his previous statements that climate change is a massive hoax, his recent comments still clearly show a level of apathy and ignorance towards climate change that is unacceptable for someone in a major position of power.
There has already been evidence of climate change affecting regions all over the world, from the drought in Cape Town, South Africa to the wildfires that raged across Greece. According to the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT), the total natural disasters reported has been steadily increasing in recent decades, from 78 in 1970 to 342 in 2016.
Despite the numerous disasters plaguing the planet, the Republican Party refuses to worry about anything but the strength of the economy. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic advisor and director of the National Economic Council, believes that the climate change experts “overestimate” the imminent threat of danger heralded in the UN’s report. Putting aside that Kudlow’s argument relies on a false choice that a country has to sacrifice economic growth to protect the environment, the larger point is that the consequences of climate change already cost the United States billions of dollars.
The Trump administration removed the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016. The agreement included the involvement of 195 countries and sought to limit global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now declared the prior terms of the agreement as insufficient in limiting the rise of global temperature beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, most of the world at least showcased a willingness to care about the climate.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the only way to avert the calamity that will accompany the rising temperatures, is “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” These changes will only occur if Trump and his Republican party look at the facts and decide the planet is worth saving.
President Trump is 72 years old. The average lifespan of an American-born male is currently 78 years old. Some will not live to see the horror and destruction of rising ocean waters, persistent droughts, and deadly hurricanes. Those of us who will be here must counter the indifference of those who can conveniently ignore the disastrous conditions for future generations.