IOWA CITY, IA — Climate change has been an ongoing topic of discussion in the scientific and political communities for quite some years now. It is a controversial topic — some believe in it, and others believe it is just an agenda.
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted in November 2012, four years before his presidential campaign, that he believes climate change is a “hoax created by the Chinese.” During his presidential campaign, he never addressed this claim, however he remains skeptical about the topic overall.
So what’s the big deal if he doesn’t believe in climate change?
Donald Trumps plans for addressing climate change
First and foremost, Mr. Trump wants the United States to back out of the Paris Agreement, which was a global conference set in Paris to discuss moving forward and addressing climate change. The Paris Agreement’s goal is to strengthen the global response to climate change and its impacts. Many countries are in on the act, three of which are the leading nations producing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (United States, China, and India).
Mary Kosloski, an environmental ecologist and Earth and Environmental Sciences professor at the University of Iowa, weighed in on the subject. “I think that we’re starting to see really positive movement at an international level, after it seems that we’ve ignored the problem for quite a while now, and I hate to see that slowed at all.”
Backing out of the Paris Agreement could result in many negative consequences, the biggest being that the United States would set an example for other nations to pull out of it as well. This could reverse the progress made towards preventing climate change thus far.
Secondly, Mr. Trump has vowed to dismantle parts of the Environmental Protection Agency. He plans to tear up major regulations set in place by President Obama, such as the Clean Power Plan, calling it a “war on coal“.
“Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations,” Mr. Trump said in October 2015 during a campaign speech.
Mary Kosloski thinks that what the EPA does is beneficial to our country, especially in terms of protection. “Particularly when you look at protection, it is so economically important and important for the health and wellbeing of the people in this country.”
While it’s still unclear what exactly Mr. Trump plans on doing, he explicitly stated that he will do his best to slow parts of the EPA.
Third, Mr. Trump has appointed Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of the oil and gas-intensive state of Oklahoma, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. This move could pose as particularly dangerous, considering Pruitt has spent much time fighting the EPA.
Some of the things that Pruitt will be in charge of include “the nation’s public health protection laws, including those in place to reduce pollution in our air, land and water,” according to ewg.org.
Should climate change be a political matter?
Climate change has been argued in politics since 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was created, an international treaty that aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the premise that global warming was real and that human carbon dioxide emissions have caused it.
Since 1997, many pieces of evidence have come to the surface, including depleting ozone layers, rising sea levels, rising ocean temperatures, and rising global temperatures (to name a few). However, there are still many skeptics of climate change, most of them belonging to the Republican Party.
Mary Kosloski wishes that climate change wasn’t a political matter. “I wish that it could be a logical matter, and an economic matter,” she said. One of the most pressing matters of climate change is using more environmentally friendly energy sources — such as wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectricity instead of using coal and oil, fossil fuels that are not renewable and contribute to global warming. The problem? These environmentally friendly and renewable resources can be very costly.
Climate change evidence. Photo: https://chasingice.com/thescience/
University of Iowa students proved to be educated on the seemingly controversial topic. Andrea Dutton, junior, thinks that it climate change should be a political matter. “Politics is personal and has a lot of influence on what industries can do and what can get passed.”
Sydney Boyson, freshman, agreed. “I think it needs to be mandated over a large body of people for us to really see some positive differences in the environment.”
Other University of Iowa students felt differently about climate change being politicized. Emily Mentzer, freshman, disagreed. “I think there’s more important things that we need to be focusing on.”
Jamie Travis, freshman, agreed with Emily. “There’s other things going on in politics right now that are directly affecting me, so all my focus has gone to those things.”
How will a Trump presidency change society’s views towards climate change?
Sam Wicke, freshman at the University of Iowa, doesn’t think it will be beneficial. “Having a president who doesn’t even acknowledge the concept of climate change, and with his widespread influence over uneducated, vulnerable, suggestible people, they will definitely eat up anything he says.”
Andrea Dutton has similar views. She believes that his rhetoric has “validated people that hold his views”. While climate deniers have been around before Trump began his campaign, many believe that Mr. Trumps newfound influence over the government could reverse progress that has been made.
Is climate change a big issue?
The general consensus among University of Iowa students was that yes, climate change is a big issue that is currently affecting us and will continue to affect us for the rest of our lives.
“Being in a millennial generation, it’s our job to pave a future for the future generations, and it should be a top priority for every body,” Sam said.