As the Presidential election rapidly approaches, environmentalists are railing against the last four years of Trump’s EPA and warning what could come next if he is re-elected.
In a recent interview, Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist and researcher, gave damning prospects on the possibility of what another four years of Trump might do to climate change: “If we are going to avert ever more catastrophic climate change impacts, we need to limit warming below a degree and a half Celsius, a little less than three degrees Fahrenheit. Another four years of what we’ve seen under Trump, which is to outsource environmental and energy policy to the polluters and dismantle protections put in place by the previous administration … would make that essentially impossible.”
According to the most recent report published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, current human-induced global warming has almost reached 1˚C (1.8˚F) above pre-industrial levels. Climate scientists currently predict that the global temperature is going to continue increasing in 0.2˚C increments every decade. They also conclude – crucially – that past emissions alone are unlikely to raise global temperature above 1.5˚C, so if all anthropogenic emissions were reduced to zero, any further warming beyond that already achieved would likely be small on a century timescale. Thus, these data findings indicate that climate change can be stopped and even reversed with dedicated plans and fossil-fuel burning cuts across various industries.
In addition, this year brought a record-high number of fires and storms to US soil. Fires have been seen blazing through the West Coast, burning a total approximate area of the state of Connecticut. In addition, hurricanes and tropical storms have been going through the Atlantic in greater numbers than ever. This October, a collective of five storms were raging in the ocean at once, setting new meteorological records. Studies have shown that hurricanes are mainly caused by the prolonged vapor in the atmosphere of an already heated Earth. Likewise, the hottest atmospheric temperature of 54˚C (129˚F) was recorded by a weather station at Death Valley in California this past August.
Animals have been just as affected by the recent events and changing climate. Reports abounded in the late northern hemisphere summer as to how in different and unrelated incidents, multiple orca pods surrounded boats off the coast of Spain and Portugal seemingly calling out in distress while ramming small vessels. Similarly, mammals in Mexico’s southern jungle and the Amazon rainforest – the two largest contiguous tropical forests in the Americas – have exhibited unprecedented levels of behavioral stress as habitat, historic water sources and existing food sources are increasingly depleted.
A recent study made by the United States Geological Survey found that polar bears living in the Arctic and Alaska have been disproportionately affected by climate change and the melting ice caps. The report states that the Arctic Sea Ice which is essential for the species’ livelihood has been depleting at “rates of about 14 percent and 27 percent per decade respectively.”
They concluded that any disturbance to the polar bears’ dens in the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska should be urgently mitigated. The results serve as further evidence against the current administration’s plan to lease out Alaska’s profitable land to oil and energy companies. Adam Kolton, an executive director of Alaska Wilderness League, an environmentalist advocacy group said “To add hundreds of miles of seismic vehicle trails and drilling sites to the stresses these bears are already experiencing would be unimaginable as we fight to ensure their long-term survival. Unfortunately, the Trump administration treats science like a meal it can send back to the chef when it doesn’t like it instead of as a basis for sound decision making.”
Environmentalists point to a global problem within which the US Federal administration has the ability and responsibility to be the world leader, and yet – critics say – one which has willfully chosen to ignore science under Trump’s presidency. In addition to withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Accord, for instance, various administration officials have been vociferous in repudiating man-induced climate change.
With the US demonstrably a world leader in terms of establishing precedents which other countries follow, the upcoming Presidential election is not just of importance to the USA itself, but rather will set standards for what much of the rest of world chooses to do as regards what is arguably the greatest existential problem of our times.
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