Heated Climate Leads to Heated Politics
What is the Debate?
“Global warming is too serious for the world any longer to ignore its danger or split into opposing factions on it” says former Great Britain and Northern Ireland Prime Minister Tony Blair. The existence of climate change and what causes the fluctuations in weather have our country locked in a two-sided debate. This division stops the progress on solving a problem that could lead to devastating consequences. Typically, democrats believe that the issue is aggravated by humans, while many republicans believe that it is either a hoax or something natural. These sides were established as the debate started heating up around 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was introduced to dampen global carbon pollution. Although it was hailed by President Bill Clinton, it was withdrawn from congress by George W. Bush. Donald Trump, a more recent leader, has taken a slightly exaggerated, republican stance on the topic. In 2012, he tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic leader, had a contrasting belief about climate change. His advocacy for environmental action, lead him to call out Donald Trump for his tweet on national television. This back-and-forth that our country is engaged in has led to unstable policy that is counterproductive to the problem.
What Efforts Have Been Made?
In the past few years, environmental policy has been handled with democratic ideals of Barack Obama. The US and China are the two largest carbon producers, so when George W. Bush withdrew the Kyoto Protocol from Congress in 2001, the deal’s effectiveness was crippled. During Obama’s second term, he made a deal with China known as the Paris Agreement. This deal bound the two countries in a way similar to the Kyoto Protocol by putting forward “nationally determined contributions” to combat climate change. On top of global involvement, Obama’s presidency was significantly active in domestic policymaking. In 2014, he developed the Clean Power Plan with the EPA. The plan focused on “reducing carbon pollution from power plants”. This step toward cleaner energy kept the states’ energy use in check. Obama has worked toward the “reshaping of major sectors of the economy, specifically auto manufacturing and electric utilities.” Senior at Moeller High School, Reed Marquardt says in response to these efforts, “I think as of now some organizations are headed in the right direction with trying to use renewable energy, but at the same time there are still people digging up fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow.” One example is the Clean Air Act which targeted America’s most polluting fuel, coal. Despite Obama’s environmental policy, the government is still split on how they will handle this controversy. Senior, Ryan Griffin says, “It seems to me that the government prioritizes businesses and the flow of money rather than the long term issue of waste accumulation and gas accumulation in the atmosphere.”
What's New with the New President?
Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump exhibited his plans for the environment by comparing them to Obama’s. Trump criticized his policies, “promising to repeal regulations, increase fossil fuel production” during his term. These actions would counteract Obama’s policy much like the Kyoto Protocol was withdrawn during George W. Bush’s term. Gus Haffner, another senior, thinks the President’s goals are focused around the interest groups and giants who donate to the Republican Party, “fossil fuel giants donate tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates every election.” On the topic of energy use, Hillary Clinton claimed that she was, “committed to moving away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy.” For this claim, she was targeted by a Republicans PAC, claiming she has “taken millions of dollars from the oil and gas industry” through the Clinton Foundation. This
claim affected the general opinion on issue. The people that turned away from her, looked to Trump who strives to reverse Obama’s environmental policy. Recently, Donald Trump’s administration displayed his efforts by “instruct[ing] the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website.” This would mean that scientific facts that have been approved by the government would be hidden from people going to the website. “’If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear’" says an EPA staff member. If Donald Trump follows through on his promises, the progression made on environmental policy will be set back again.
The constant changes in policy, regarding the environment, abate the effort to stop climate change. This is because of political differences that lead the nation to a deepening matter of contention. Whether one believes in climate change or not, as Tony Blair says, the possibility is too dangerous to “split into opposing factions on it.”