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Climate Change another ‘Debatable Fact’ under Trump Presidency

24th Feb 2017
Climate Change another ‘Debatable Fact’ under Trump Presidency

America’s new presidential administration has the world biting its nails for new xxx reasons each day. Many of President Trump’s decisions during his first few days in the office reflect his personal views, short temper, and inexperience in governing. The Environmental Protection Agency, in particular, is one department the President has criticised constantly throughout the years for standing in the way of business interests.

The Republicans have often criticised the EPA for what they consider Government overreach that it keeps small businesses from being competitive. The Department lawfully requires businesses to dispose of certain wastes responsibly, keep up-to-date permits, and report emissions data regularly; companies that are noncompliant may incur a hefty fine.

Donald Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt, a well-known climate change sceptic to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Though Pruitt has yet to be confirmed by the Congress, and Gina McCarthy remains its leader from the Obama administration, it was recently reported that the Trump administration ordered the EPA’s climate change page to be removed from its website (epa.gov/climatechange) .  The page holds a plethora of data regarding climate change, including research, mitigation efforts, and resources for local and state governments. One EPA staffer told Reuters, “If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear.” They are scrambling to secure the information and convince Trump to keep at least some parts of it available to the public.

The Sierra Club, an environmental non-profit organisation, started by preservationist John Muir in 1892, has been working recently to keep Pruitt from being confirmed as leader of the EPA using the hashtag #StopPruitt while informing their followers of his record and intentions. Sierra Club spokesman, Adam Beitman, responded to The Muslim News request for comment:

Do you think that this is more of a symbolic rather than concrete effort to undermine the scientific consensus?

“These actions are anything but symbolic -Trump and the fossil fuel cronies polluting his entire administration are dead set on promoting a retrograde form of climate denial in an effort to thwart global action. But the world should also know that the majority of Americans want no part of this charade and are already demonstrating, speaking out, and taking the fight to Trump every step of the way.”

What do you think it means for the future of the US climate policy?

“Trump looks set to do everything he can at the national level to gut essential climate policies that protect all Americans and help the world move forward. The only good news here is that state and local action in the United States is moving strongly forward even in the face of Trump’s opposition. Clean energy is growing by leaps and bounds in the US, we have retired nearly 250 coal plants in recent years, and over 20 American cities have already committed to getting 100% of their energy from clean, renewable sources by 2030. That progress will only continue. That said when Trump finally realises just what kind of massive international resistance his plans face he may be forced to reconsider.”

Resistance to Trump seems to be coming from all directions. Since his inauguration, people have protested nonstop, from the Women’s March to the ‘Muslim ban’ airport stand in; even fellow Republicans have defied him. Environmental advocates are on the front lines, committed to keeping climate change on the policy agenda. Still, Trump has vowed to undo any progress Barack Obama made for the environment, including dismantling his Clean Power Plan, which closed coal-fired power plants and kept new ones from being built, though it is unclear how much of the plan the new president can legally undo.

Internationally, President Trump is heightening tensions with regard to treaties. Trump vowed to remove the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, considered a cornerstone of environmental legislation that took years of careful, and sometimes tumultuous, negotiations. Even if he does, other nations have expressed that they would still work to uphold their commitments; but it could be the beginning of the US ceasing to be viewed as a valuable contributor to such negotiations.

As the world watches the Trump presidency unfold, it is clear that new rules of conduct are being written. The era of ‘alternative facts’ has been entered, and in the only country in the world where climate change is still a major ‘debate’, policies that could be disastrous for the climate may be welcomed with open arms for the sake of short-term profits and keeping short sighted promises.

Sarah Sakeena Marshall, B.S. Environmental Science & Policy

 

 

 

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