The environment needs protection; jobs don’t

September 27, 2018 — by Rohan Kumar

Polar bears are struggling to survive on the receding glaciers of Antarctica. Water levels are rising while glaciers melt, causing floods across the globe. Severe storms are increasing in frequency; in 2017, Hurricane Maria resulted in a death toll of 2,975 people and devastated Puerto Rico’s power grid.

Each of these potentially catastrophic trends is a result of global warming, which, in turn, is a result of carbon emissions. If people continue to burn fossil fuels at the rate they do today, and if citizens and governments remain largely uneducated about climate change, the environment and the world as a whole will suffer immensely.

According to NASA, sea levels will rise 1 to 4 feet by 2100, potentially leading to the flooding of low-lying communities. By 2050, glaciers are expected to completely disappear from the Arctic ocean. But, of course, the Trump administration doesn’t seem to care.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has been attacking the environment, enacting changes that take away protections of endangered species and deregulate fossil fuel plants. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency began to finalize a repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the nation’s first carbon-emission standard for power plants that aims to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Although certain industries will benefit from the administration’s actions in the short term, these changes come with scant long-term benefits and endless threatening consequences.

Essentially, the only benefit of deregulation is that President Trump wins over a stronger supporter base. Trump claims that these repeals create more jobs in coal mines and natural gas plants, attracting people to his side by showing that he is able to keep his campaign promises.

In general, these reforms are not making jobs; on the contrary, they are hindering job growth. Job growth in the clean energy sector has been immense in recent years, but the repeal of the CPP has the potential to put back much of the progress that has been made in clean power. In fact, according to a story in the Kansas City Star, repealing the CPP would deny the possibility of creating 560,000 new jobs and adding $52 billion in industry’s economic value.

The consequences don’t end there. Without the CPP, 12 states that rely heavily on fossil fuels are likely to be unable to meet emission goals set by the Obama administration. With these 12 states together producing 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions in 2014, the failure to meet these goals will result in continued high levels of carbon emissions.

The United States already has one of the highest carbon emission rates in the world. According to The New York Times, the U.S. accounts for one fifth of the world’s carbon emissions, making it critical that we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Under President Obama, the U.S. was one of the 195 countries that were part of the Paris Climate Agreement, which aimed to prevent temperatures from increasing by 2oC in the next century. In June 2017, however, President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from this agreement. This, along with the repeal of the CPP, makes it nearly impossible for the U.S. to make significant changes to its carbon footprint.

The fundamental issue behind the Trump administration is that it consistently fails to understand the freightening nature of the problems that face the world. This becomes glaringly apparent with these attacks on the environment, where the administration refuses to acknowledge the very existence of climate change despite irrefutable evidence. Because the federal government does not care about the environmental dangers of climate change, states need to fill the leadership void.

Thankfully, California, a leader in fighting climate change, continues to regulate tailpipe emissions on cars, control pollutants and set goals for a zero-carbon future. Thirteen states have agreed to follow many of California's standards as well.

Despite various attempts by the federal government to lower California’s stricter environmental standards, including a recent attempt to reduce regulations on tailpipe emissions, California has stood strong and so have its backers. If California can fight climate change against Trump’s wishes, other states can as well.

As citizens of California, we have an obligation to help out as well. Switching to hybrid or electric cars, conserving energy at home, using more renewable energy and eating less meat are all ways to reduce carbon emissions. Anyone can fight climate change and go even further by getting involved in conservation organizations such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) or the National Audubon Society.

We don’t need the Trump administration in order to protect the world’s people, polar bears and glaciers. We only need our resolve.

 

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