By: Stella Pagkas, Social Media Manager
On October 8th, 2018, the Secretary-General of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a long-awaited statement that revealed that nations have just twelve years to cut their CO₂ emissions in half in order to prevent a 2℃ global temperature increase, which could have devastating effects.
As of right now, the globe has warmed by 1.5℃, but just a half-degree increase could lead to “more heat waves for tens of millions of people[, f]ar greater species loss[, i]ncreased water scarcity in some of the world’s most unstable regions[, a] ten-fold increase in Arctic ice-free summers[, a]nd a total wipe-out of the world’s coral reefs.”
With just a dozen years to prevent permanent, catastrophic climate change, this controversial issue has never been more pressing. To stay on track to halt global warming, nations must meet their commitments regarding the Paris Agreement, an international agreement that “brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects,” by 2020. Now is the time to take action before it is too late to prevent international crisis.
But how is America, one of the world’s leading industrial nations, supposed to contribute to this global effort under the leadership of someone who once tweeted, “It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”?
President Trump has long been a skeptic of climate change, and his statements regarding this issue are somewhat contradictory. He has repeatedly described it as a “hoax” and even once tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” though he later stated that this tweet was a joke. In 2017, Trump famously made the United States the first nation to pull out of the Paris Agreement, ceding leadership regarding climate change issues to other nations including China.
More recently, Trump has been less skeptical of climate change itself, but is hesitant to regard it as an urgent issue. On “60 Minutes” in October, Trump stated, “I don’t think there’s a hoax. I do think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made,” and, “I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it will change back again.”
While many regard Trump’s admittance that climate change is real as progress, his beliefs that it is not necessarily human-caused and that it will “change back” are factually incorrect. In the National Climate Assessment Report, leading federal scientists discovered “no convincing alternative explanation” for climate change, indicating that it is caused by human activity that produces CO₂ emissions. The same report also addressed the potential for climate change to “reverse,” finding that global warming trends are “unambiguous,” and that global temperatures have been moving in the same direction for the past one hundred and fifteen years. Furthermore, federal scientists stated, “We find no convincing evidence that natural variability can account for the amount of global warming observed over the industrial era.”
More alarming, however, is that Trump’s current position on climate change fails to warrant any urgent government action to address this pressing issue.
Reports estimate that as many as one hundred and forty million people around the world will be forced to move inland by 2050 as a result of climate change. A report by Trump’s own administration even suggested that by 2100 the United States’ economy could be reduced by 10% in size, a greater reduction than during the Great Depression, as a result of climate change. President Trump will likely see some of the devastating impacts of global warming in his own lifetime, and younger generations of Americans will have to face living in a nation whose biggest threat is its own climate crisis.
The reports are in and time is running out; Trump can’t make any more excuses. He is denying a reality that he will face in his own lifetime, and disregarding the beliefs of experts and his own nation’s citizens. 97% of climate scientist around the world believe that the climate is warming as a result of human activity. The vast majority of Americans accept that climate change is real. It’s time for the President to wake up and address this issue, and that begins with admitting that climate change is human-caused, and it isn’t just going to undo itself. It’s up to America to take responsibility and do its part to prevent this global crisis. And it’s up to Trump to take this issue seriously.