Here’s a fun fact: Earth is slowly dying. So for those of us who enjoy breathing clean air, looking at majestic photos of polar bears in their natural habitat, and generally just living life on this sweet blue-and-green orb? Tough luck. Despite the overwhelming evidence for global warming and climate change, there are certain people who somehow find it easy to ignore the unfortunate reality humans have created for themselves — and none of those individuals is more dangerous than Donald Trump.
If Trump follows through with his proposed “policies” on climate change, our planet will be unrecognisable and possibly near-uninhabitable in 100 years. For many of us, 100 years feels inconceivable; if we’re alive now, we almost certainly won’t be by 2117. But our children and grandchildren will be. If Trump gets his way, they might well walk Earth wearing gas masks.
Trump has been displaying a murky-at-best understanding of global warming and climate change for years — long before he entered the world political arena and assumed the office and powers of President of the United States. On November 6, 2012, he sent his now-infamous tweet defining global warming as a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Since then, he’s made statements asserting that research on climate change is incomplete; indicated during his campaign his intention to destroy President Obama’s Clean Power Plan; and sent numerous tweets, such as this one, revealing a fundamental lack of comprehension of proven and accepted climate science (including the distinction between “global warming” and “climate change”).
This science has been beyond debate for many years (which isn’t to say it’s beyond expansion and refinement) and says that 2°C above the pre-industrial temperature average is the point at which global warming will be truly irreversible and catastrophic consequences will begin to occur. Since the late nineteenth century, the Earth’s average surface temperature has risen 1.1°C, and 2016 was the third year in a row to become the warmest on record. (If you’d like to learn more about how the current average is calculated and how it’s used to gauge warming, go here or here.)
The 2015 Paris Agreement, ratified by 129 countries (including the U.S. under President Obama) and enacted on November 4, 2016, seeks to keep the Earth’s temperature “well below” that two-degree threshold. During his campaign, in May 2016, Trump signaled his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. Shortly after Trump officially became president on January 20, Myron Ebell (head of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team and avowed climate-science denier) confirmed that Trump does indeed mean to do just that.
If and when Trump’s promise to withdraw actually occurs, it will mark his most substantial step yet in rolling back global efforts to curb warming and climate change. But it’s far from the only assault he’s launched on Earth and its citizens.
Since being elected on November 8, 2016 and beginning the transition process, Trump has nominated climate skeptic Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA (taking over from Ebell); pointedly instructed the same agency to divulge the names of all employees who’ve attended climate change talks over the past five years, gagged all communications from the EPA, the Department of Agriculture, and U.S. National Parks; signed an executive order green-lighting the construction of the previously halted Dakota Access Pipeline; and signaled support for the Keystone XL Pipeline that President Obama rejected.
Under his rule, the Republican-controlled Congress has eliminated the “stream protection rule” prohibiting coal companies from chucking mining waste into waterways and killed a rule aimed at curbing methane gas emissions.
And literal minutes after Trump assumed the presidency, the White House’s climate change website vanished. In its place? A page outlining Trump’s “America First Energy Plan” — which, translated from veiled pleasantries, reaffirms Trump’s and his administration’s commitment to advancing the interests of corporations invested in fossil fuels over the interests of Planet Earth and every single living being inhabiting it.
Trump and his gaggle of climate-science deniers and gleeful enablers have shown themselves willing to pander to the insidious impulses of greed while blithely ignoring reality. They are systematically dismantling rules, regulations, and agreements intended to ensure a habitable Earth for future generations, all while couching their cowardice and staggering obtuseness in insulting trickery meant to fool people into thinking they’re benevolent leaders righting the restrictive wrongs of former presidents (Obama) and administrations.
To deny the eventualities of climate change if steps aren’t taken to combat it is to be willfully deluded — to live, literally, in a world at odds with reality. To do what Donald Trump and his advisors and administration have done (and what we can only imagine they’ll continue to do) is to put the entire planet at risk of accelerated destruction.
These attacks on our environment are unequivocal acts of war.
This is not the time for a wait-and-see approach; we simply have to find a way to avoid the consequences coming to us if Trump is allowed to continue down this path. His actions herald a global disaster; they necessitate a swift and forceful response around the globe. In the face of the risk of retribution from the vengeful man now heading the United States, world leaders must find a way to ensure the continued existence of our planet. If that involves taking unprecedented actions, so be it — this is an unprecedented situation at a critical point in the juncture of Earth’s history and human habitation.
It’s a fight for survival. We, along with our government leaders and representatives, must make sure we win.