According to extensive scientific research, climate change is real and its devastating effects are largely expedited by humans. So, why do political figures continue to debate over the issue? Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue facing the United States and the world, and creating solutions requires bipartisan efforts.
While more Americans believe that climate change is real and driven by human activity, a divide among political party lines still remains in regard to climate change. As of December 2018, 71 percent of democrats believe climate change is “serious” and requires “immediate action,” whereas only 15 percent of republicans believe so.
The election of Donald Trump may be partially to blame for this attitude of denial taken by republicans in response to climate change. There are many instances of the president denying climate change, like in November 2018 when he dismissed a study involving over 300 leading climate scientists warning of the potentially fatal threats climate change poses. More recently, on Twitter, the President joked that climate change isn’t real because it’s cold outside. It is more difficult to rally support for efforts to alleviate climate change when our nation’s president is boasting that it’s all just a hoax.
Recently, the Trump administration has been working to assemble a climate change panel headed by scientist William Happer, who once compared climate change to the Holocaust, claiming that “like the Jews,” carbon dioxide emissions are actually beneficial to the country. The fact that the President chose this man to lead the climate change panel illustrates his complete disregard and mockery of the urgent issue of climate change. From promising to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement to the recent nomination of Happer, President Trump has made his intentions clear: climate change is not an issue, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and he will make no steps in reducing the United States’ carbon footprint.
So, why are Trump’s supporters blindly following his anti-green agenda? The answer could lie in the areas of job growth since his election. One of his campaign promises was to bring jobs back to America, especially jobs in industry. Since the election, mining and logging jobs are up 13.5 percent, and jobs in construction and oil extraction are expected to rise 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. While job growth is essential to a thriving economy, all of these industries negatively impact the environment. While an increase in these areas may lower gas prices and increase revenue, it will also contribute to carbon emissions and accelerate the negative effects of climate change. However, Trump’s biggest supporters may only see the surface-level job growth he promised and neglect to investigate the greater implications.
While debate on climate change continues, the effects also persist, as global temperatures continue to rise, sea levels and temperatures rise, ice sheets shrink, extreme weather events increase in frequency and oceans become more acidic. We have already witnessed the negative effects of climate change, and these effects will continue and worsen in the coming years if we do not take preventative action now. Debating the issue of climate change is a waste of time we should be spending creating partisan solutions to combat the effects of climate change and save our planet before it’s too late.
Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon