(Opinion) Trump and climate change

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt participates in a meeting with state and local officials regarding the Trump infrastructure plan at the White House, Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2018. The EPA wants to quicken the pace of deregulations.

Recently, President Trump was interviewed on “60 Minutes,” and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here. One of the first topics Trump is asked about is climate change, which he has repeatedly denied exists. In response, he avoids a yes or no answer, but instead states, “I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars; I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t want to be put at a disadvantage.” Disadvantage for what, Mr. Trump?

In a democracy, the governing and the governed may not agree on everything, but it is expected that elected officials make decisions for the good of all people. Much discord surrounds many of the choices Trump has made throughout his first two years in office, and while that is to be expected with any administration, Trump’s stance on climate change could hurt America, and may already be doing so.

During his visit to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Trump notoriously threw paper towels to people and criticized the mayor of San Juan for the island not having strong-flowing electricity. After a hurricane. That Trump was there to provide aid for. A year later, Maria resulted in an estimated death toll of 3,000, making it one of the most tragic natural disasters in American history.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supplies still lay unused, and are now unusable. I have experienced Houston, Texas, after Hurricane Harvey firsthand and know that the city is still recovering. While the Americans who were impacted by these natural disasters are resilient enough to recuperate, Trump’s lack of recognition for increased hurricane damage leaves them questioning the support following devastation from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which have impacted the Carolinas and Florida, respectively.

There was one major hurricane that I heard about as a child: Katrina. I can now name six newsworthy storms from the past six years off the top of my head. Sadly, increased hurricane devastation and science doesn’t seem to be swaying the president, because scientists “have a very big political agenda.” This has tremendous implications for Americans.

For one, the government will not “give trillions and trillions of dollars” to climate research. During Trump’s first few months in office, the EPA website shut down its page on climate change to supposedly make way for updates. This page is now visible, but nowhere near as informative on the effects of climate change. However, users can access the site as presented on Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Trump’s inauguration. The lack of government-funded climate change research is putting America behind in the global effort to preserve the planet, and citizens are suffering.

New research by the Carbon Disclosure Project has identified 100 companies and three countries as most responsible: China, India and the good ol’ U.S.A. This news has rattled Americans across the nation, but nothing will likely be done about it. Carpooling, using public transportation and taking shorter showers isn’t going to contribute much to the global carbon footprint. For that, we need stricter rules in industry, something the president plays a major role in. But he doesn’t see the problem.

The jobs that Trump worries about losing are hurting the planet, and by not funding climate research, jobs are lost anyway. Climate change is very apparent, but unless the president opens his eyes, environmental progress cannot occur until he is out of office.

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