Monday, November 14, 2016
Denying climate change is only part of it: 5 ways Donald Trump spells doom for the environment
If the world’s governments don’t prevent the planet’s surface temperature from increasing more than 2°C, then life on Earth will become a difficult proposition for many humans, animals and plants. Glaciers will melt, sea levels will rise, crops will fail, water availability will decrease, and diseases will proliferate. Some areas will experience more wildfires and extreme heat; in others, more hurricanes and extreme storms. Coastal cities and possibly entire nations will be swallowed by the sea. There will be widespread social and economic instability, leading to regional conflicts.
Considering that the United States is the world’s second biggest emitter behind China, accounting for 16 percent of cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions, the climate decisions President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress make will be critical for future generations. But he has shown no sign that he’s remotely interested in tackling what climate scientist James Hansen calls “humanity’s greatest challenge.”
Contrary to the view of the international scientific community, Trump has called climate change a “con job” and a “myth.” In 2012 he tweeted that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He cited cold winter weather as evidence that global warming isn’t real, tweeting during a 2014 winter blizzard, “The entire country is freezing — we desperately need a heavy dose of global warming, and fast! Ice caps size reaches all time high.”
So, what could America’s newly elected climate-denier-in-chief do to undermine action on the climate threat? Here are five ways President Donald J. Trump could spell doom for the planet.
1. Dismantle the EPA.
Trump said would get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon that has become the nation’s main federal lever for mitigating the impacts of climate change. “Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace,” he told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace in October of last year. “Every week they come out with new regulations. They’re making it impossible.” When Wallace asked him who would protect the environment, Trump replied, “We’ll be fine with the environment … We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.” During the GOP presidential debate on March 3, he hammered the EPA again, saying he would “get rid of [EPA] in almost every form. We are going to have little tidbits left but we are going to take a tremendous amount out.” But he has since backtracked, saying in September that he’ll “refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.” Still, his more moderate tone should offer little solace for environmentalists. Last month at a roundtable in Boynton Beach, Florida, he committed to cutting EPA regulations “70 to 80 percent.” The person currently running the EPA working group on Trump’s transition team — and a leading candidate to become the agency’s next administrator — is Myron Ebell, the director of energy and environment policy at the conservative think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, who the Financial Times called “one of America’s most prominent climate-change skeptics.” Ebell, whose work has been funded by some of the nation’s worst polluters, like Murray Energy, the nation’s largest coal mining company, said, “I would like to have more funding [from big coal] so that I can combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movement.”