This past election cycle brought quite a bit of attention to a certain hot button issue: the issue of many people being hot under the buttons of their shirts this late in the winter season. With President Elect Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, many people have expressed concern of what effect that will have on our nation, our environment, and the universal collective goods we benefit from.
First, we have to ask, why is climate change such a serious issue? According to NASA, due to climate change, our planet is suffering from loss of sea ice, intense heatwaves, and rising sea levels, which poses an extreme risk towards coastal areas close to the equator, like Florida. NASA scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, which will not only take a toll on the weather, but also on crops and public health. The key to understanding climate change lies in understanding Milankovitch cycles. The basic premise is for the past million years the natural climate has oscillated between warm periods and ice ages. This shifting in and out of warm periods and ice ages is correlated strongly with Milankovitch cycles. In order to understand the difference between natural cycle and human-caused/influenced global warming, one needs to consider changes in radiative forcing and how this affects systems on Earth such as the atmosphere, vegetation, ice and snow, ocean chemistry and ocean heat content overturn cycles and related effects. The current radiative forcing levels are clearly outside of the natural cycle range, proving that this is not a natural cycle, but human interference.
Knowing that global warming and climate change carry serious repercussions as supported by the international scientific community, why would someone with as much incoming power as Scott Pruitt deny these facts? There are concerns regarding the ties Pruitt has with the energy industry. In 2014, as he served as the Director of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which received a hefty donation speculated to be from the Koch Brothers. Formed as an offshoot of the Republican Attorneys General Association, the Defense Fund is organized under a section of the tax code that allows it to keep donors secret — but it received $175,000 in 2014 from Freedom Partners, a group affiliated with the Koch Brothers. With Trump’s catchphrase of “Draining The Swamp”, we have to ask, is President Elect Trump only destroying corruption when it’s convenient for his cause?
Furthermore, we have to ask, what is the impact of climate change skepticism on our nation? We’ve seen public outrage regarding “Water Protectors” and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Public opinion has swayed to support environmental protection and clean energy, exemplified by the continued growth of rooftop solar generation. In 2014, about a third of all new power generation was installed using solar energy. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the plunge in solar photovoltaic prices has led to the installation of 1,393 megawatts of rooftop solar generation in the second quarter of 2016.
As citizens we also have to question the views of our President Elect. In November of 2012, President Elect Trump tweeted a quote, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” During the first Presidential debate with Secretary Clinton, Trump denied that he ever said this, although the tweet still remains on his twitter page. This view is supplemented by other tweets, “The problem w/ the concept of ‘global warming’ is that the US is spending a fortune on ‘fixing it’ while China & others do nothing!” he wrote on 5 December, 2013. In other posts he wrote how China was “so happy” that the US was spending money to “fight mythical global warming”. Those tweets from 2012 are still online.
Climate change denial is a serious issue, one that will soon be more prevalent with the incoming Trump Administration. As citizens, conservatives or liberal, it is our duty to protect our nation, and global warming is a looming threat. So what can we do? We can contact our local and state elected officials and voice our concerns, as constituents. We can donate to organizations like 350, working to reverse climate change through lobbying, donations, and campaigns throughout the globe, and the Center For Food Safety, which encourages eating fresh, unprocessed foods; buying local and seasonal products; choosing organic fare; and reducing food waste. The Center also supports rebuilding soil to help producers mitigate and adapt to climate change. Also small steps like choosing organic produce, bringing your reusable cup to your coffee shop, or bringing your own bags to food shop makes a difference. Making these 4 years more environmentally friendly is a great way to help the world, and not just America, be great again. These are environmentally conscious things we can do on our own & without government mandates: we’re conservatives, we’re practical, and we can make a difference.