Thursday, July 25, 2024

U.S. relies too heavily on fossil fuels

By Jess Johnson

It has been an obvious issue within the United States that we have been in a state of climate turmoil, and the Trump Administration has consistently made this worse by rolling back on environmental legislation, and even threatening to pull out of the Paris Agreement in 2017, essentially making the U.S. an embarrassment compared to other countries — once again.

His actions were finalized Nov. 4, along with an existential feeling of suffocating doom.

In December 2015, The Paris Agreement was formed in a need to address the global response to the threat of climate change, and set a goal to keep a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, “the agreement aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so,” the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s website states.

The group also wishes to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future; however, with the Trump Administration involvement within rolling back 72 regulations, as well as 27 of the 99 of them being in current progress; the future looks bleak and frankly — unhealthily scary.

Even though there was an agreement signed by Barack Obama during his 2012 term, the treaty only came into force Nov. 4, 2016. No country could give notice to leave the agreement until three years after that ratification; therefore, Nov. 4, 2019 was the earliest possible day under the United Nations rules that a country could begin the withdrawal process. After Trump’s announcement in 2017 that the U.S. would be leaving the agreement, businesses and states have begun to pledge on cutting back on carbon on a local level, considering no one is doing anything to combat climate change on a federal one.

As the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, so does the amount of heat they trap, causing an influx in global temperatures, which can cause the balance of ecosystems to be thrown off as well as glacial melting (the Arctic), an increase in ocean temperatures, drought, wildfires and more. The second warmest year on record was 2019, and it closed out the hottest recorded decade, according to The New York Times.

Why does it matter? Well the problem is, Trump isn’t listening.

Regardless of who wins the 2020 presidential election, what Trump has done will have a huge effect within the coming years — as it already has.

Apparently, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased in 2019 by 2.8%, or 150 million metric tons when compared with 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, that isn’t much of a decrease.

If Trump stopped focusing so much on economic prosperity for the higher class and mass incarceration of minorities, and delegated more federal funding toward implementing environmental policy, he could even save the country thousands in trying to fix environmental degradation by implementing renewable sources such as wind power or solar power now. It’s better to save our environment now than wait until the effects of human non-renewable energy consumption are irreversible.

Some countries however, have the right idea. On October 26, Japan leaders announced the country’s plans on being carbon neutral by 2050, as the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, claims achieving the goal “will be good not only for the world, but also for Japan’s economy and global standing.” The country, highly dependent on carbon-dioxide producing fossil fuels and is also in the top 10 world emitters, plans to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050, and now joins the world’s largest polluter, China, in combating the rapid deterioration of our ecosystems. As Japan has felt the consequences of climate change such as deadly heat waves and typhoons last year, Japan is also considering an increase in wind and solar power — something maybe Trump should have take a lesson from previously, if he does not serve another term.

Japan, by itself, will not be enough to stop or slow global warming. It needs to be a joint effort and that includes the U.S.

“The Trump Administration has done everything they can to deny the science and degenerate scientists,” former head of the Environmental Protection agency Gina McCarthy said in an interview with BBC News. “They have really done everything humanly possible to try to convince people that what they see and feel and taste just isn’t happening in front of them.”

Trump believes global warming is a hoax, and giving federal funding and time toward fighting global warming is “job killing” and “would punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters.” Progress on reducing any emissions 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 has now halted, and unless Joe Biden is elected in the current Presidential race; we won’t be getting back into the program anytime soon.

Trump has made this country into an absolute embarrassment, as of the 195 countries that signed the Paris Agreement, 189 went on to formally adopt the accord. In 2018, we were the second largest emitter of carbon emissions; therefore, we need to adopt it.

“The world needs U.S. leadership and innovation on the climate stage,” founder and executive director of the Environmental Voter Project Nathaniel Stinnett, said in an interview to Newsweek.

If Biden is elected, he has pledged that he will recommit the U.S. to the Paris Agreement on Inauguration Day Jan. 20, sending a letter to the United Nations notifying them of America rejoining, and would take only a month. Biden also announced a $2 trillion dollar plan for clean energy and environmental justice, as well as creating jobs by utilizing manufacturing resources for renewable energy. In this sense, he has shown he is a better leading presence than Trump.

“The decision to leave the Paris Agreement was wrong when it was announced and it is still wrong today,” Helen Mountford, a World Resources Institute representative, said to BBC News.

Everything Trump has done to combat improving environmental sustainability has negatively affected the lives of many for years to come. He continuously places climate-change skeptics in high profile positions such as the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and refuses to push any climate legislation.

Another four years of Trump would lock in the use of fossil fuels for decades to come. Oil and gas production would only secure its infrastructure in the American economy again, as Trump believes this is more beneficial.

“Trump is convinced that climate change is a culture war issue that ignites the resentment of his far right base,” adviser to the Democrat think tank, Progressive Policy Institute, Paul Bledsoe said.

This should not be a partisan issue, siding with the right or left side; this is an issue that affects everyone globally, and we must unite as a country to protest and fight it together, not divide. This is not an attack against him personally — of liberals and Democrats trying to undermine his authority as the country’s leader, or even undermine his personal beliefs. This is proven science, and if we don’t do something now, Gen Z and generations after will not have a future.

As toxic as Trump is, the fumes we’ll be breathing in and sweltering heat we will experience in the coming years, will be even more toxic to our bodies.

As Moutford says, “Simply put, the U.S. should stay with the other 189 parties to the agreement, not go out alone.”





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