The Terminable Truth of Trumps Presidency By: julia bilotti

This November, Republican Donald Trump was elected as the new president of the United States. The country has been shocked with such a wide range of emotions. Many fear for the fate of the country as a result of his lack of respect for women, immigrants, homosexuals, Muslims, Mexicans and others. While these minorities fear for their well-being in the U.S., there is an even more pressing issue that will determine the fate of the entire world. It is the world's forgotten minority: the planet.

Trump has repeatedly expressed his belief that climate change is non-existent. In a recent tweet, Trump wrote, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

While it is understandable that one might not believe in climate change because of their lack of research and misunderstanding on the recent state of the planet. However, these uneducated remarks by the 45th president of the United States are beyond unacceptable.

With control of the Executive branch, the House, the Senate and at least one supreme court seat to fill, Trump has the ability to make a major impact during his term.

Julia Ryan ’19 expresse her concern for the potential impact Trump could have. “I fear for that Trump will nominate a conservative supreme court justice, potentially giving Republicans control of the supreme court. This would mean that Republicans would gain control of the white house, the supreme court and congress. Even though I consider myself an independent, I am very scared that the republicans will completely disregard the issue of climate change. I believe this is an extremely vital issue,” Ryan said.

Trump's lack of education on this issue has the ability to lead the planet to destruction. While the concept can seem confusing, it is not a hard idea to grasp.

Essentially, climate change is defined as a long-term change in the Earth's climate, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature. Currently, earth’s climate is changing.

“As of October 2015, the Earth had warmed by about 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, when records began on a global scale,” the John Gillis said. While this does not sound like much, but it is equivalent to the heat that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs being set off daily.

The cause of this is from excess greenhouse gasses in the first level of the atmosphere, the troposphere. Essentially, electromagnetic radiation from the sun is directed towards the earth. This radiation enters through the troposphere and is then absorbed by the surface of the earth. It is then released as infrared radiation and heat energy. Greenhouse gasses such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane trap the heat energy in the troposphere. This process is referred to as the greenhouse effect.

This image visually depicts the greenhouse effect.

Without greenhouse gasses, the earth would be in a ceaseless ice age. Because of the heat that is trapped by the gasses, organisms, including humans, are able to thrive and reproduce.

The issue has only arisen because of the sudden increase release of greenhouse gasses. The planet is only continuing to heat past its ideal temperature.

In order to truly understand the situation, it is necessary to go back in time and see where it all began.

In 1824, a French physicist named Joseph Fourier coined the name “greenhouse effect.” This was the first time humans came to the realization that heat was being trapped in our atmosphere.

Because of the industrial revolution in 18th century, there was a drastic increase in the burning of fossil fuels. This resulted in expanded factory growth causing a significant increase of fossil fuels being burned.

Following that, in 1927, the amount of carbon emissions from fossil fuels reached one billion tons per year. Clearly, nothing was being done to decrease emissions and minimize negative results of the greenhouse effect.

After that, in 1938, a British engineer named Guy Callendar used records from 147 weather stations around the world to conclude that temperatures had risen over the preceding century. According to a timeline on BBC, this discovery was “widely dismissed by meteorologists.”

In 1989, carbon emissions from fossil fuels reached six billion tons per year. The increase in the car industry had a major impact on bringing carbon emissions to this point.

That following year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, produced the First Assessment Report.The report stated that temperatures have risen by 0.3-0.6C over the last century. It concluded that the emissions caused by humans are increasing the atmosphere's natural complement of greenhouse gasses, resulting in the heating of our earth.

In 1995, the IPCC released a Second Assessment Report which concluded that humans have a leading impact of the Earth's climate. This was the first statement that claimed humans are primarily responsible for climate change.

Two years later, the Kyoto Protocol - which was an international treaty to prevent climate change - was agreed to by several developed nations. The protocol stated that the nations pledge to reduce their emissions by an average of five percent by 2008 to 2012.

Countries involved with the Kyoto Protocol

In 2013, the IPCC's fifth assessment report stated that ninety-five percent of scientists are certain that “humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming since the 1950s.” Since the Kyoto Protocol, eighteen climate change conferences have taken place.

Last year, the most recent international Paris Climate Change Conference took place. The conference stated the agreement to limit greenhouse gasses will become a legal requirement if at least fifty-five nations agree to it. Each nation will either agree or deny it by April 21, 2017, and also apply it to their own legal systems.

Since 1824, a lot has changed, The amount of carbon emission has increased and there have been several attempts to prevent any worsening of the issue. Still to this day, nothing substantial has been done to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of Trump's disbelief in the factual evidence that clearly shows an increase the earth's temperature, it is not likely that anything within these next four years will improve.

Bryn Stephens ’18, expressed her concern for this issue. “It is absurd that Trump is denying that climate change exists. There is real scientific data and he is putting the entire world at stake by saying it is fake. I honestly think that if eh had done research he would believe climate change is real. Because of this I either think he is extremely uneducated or that he is just trying to receive attention from the media,” Stephens said.

Considering all of the facts are in place, many might question where Trump's disbelief in climate change climate change comes from. Looking at the statistics and the scientific evidence, there really is not much room for doubt.

While many people along with Trump convince themselves that climate change is a problem for the future, they don't understand that this issue could not be more current. Even if our planet heated 1 degrees celsius, the effects would be severely detrimental.

If the planet was by one-degree celsius, our world would change as we know it. Six thousand years ago, the earth was two degrees higher than it is today. Because of it, the midwest of the U.S. was dessert.

When the temperature rises up one degree today, mountains will lose their glaciers and rivers will vanish leaving millions without water. Not only this but 40% of arctic ice has disappeared in the past thirty years and it is only going to melt faster. Ice reflects light and without it, the water will be left to absorb it, melting the ice even faster which will lead to increasing the rate sea levels are rising at. It will soon become self-reinforcing.

Along with this, Permafrost that holds mountains together will continue to melt resulting in a greater risk for landslides. Another concern is that low-lying countries like the Maldives will be sunken underwater because of the rising sea levels.

Well known cities after 25ft rise in sea levels
Kristen Foster ’17, explained how she believes the U.S. is not as concerned about sea-levels rising as it need to be because the effects aren't seen within the country. “The island nation of the Maldives is struggles from their rising sea levels. In the U.S., we are failing to understand the detrimental effects. Because the U.S. is not a low-lying country, it has not experienced anything like the Island nation of the Maldives has,” Foster said.

The upsetting truth is that even if Trump took initiative and immensely cut carbon emissions, the temperature will still rise by one-degree celsius. This is what we have done to our earth. The cold hard reality is that still nothing substantial is being done and because of Trump's disbelief in climate change, to earth will be left to fall apart.

If we don't stop our carbon emissions and let the temperature rise two degrees celsius, we will face even greater issues. People will begin to die from the summer's heat.

In 2003, the temperature was 2.3 degrees celsius above average and 52,00 people died across Europe, Gillis said.

Plant growth will slow and eventually come to a stop. This will result in carbon dioxide not being absorbed causing global warming to spiral out of control. Ecosystems across the globe will collapse and one-third of all life on earth will face extinction because of migration patterns falling out of sync. At this rate, by 2100 our sea levels could rise by 1 meter which would displace 10% of the population.

This would displace 712,500,000 people. We are failing to aid the current millions of refugees today. How can we take on so much more? 712,500,000 people is unimaginable

Hillary Clinton, who was running against Donald Trump in the presidential campaign listed "Protecting animals and wildlife" and "Climate change" as two major topics on her campaign website, Trump didn't include anything about the environment.

Trump is not doing anything to prevent the destruction of the planet. Everything suspected to result from the heating of the planet will soon become a reality.

While as of now, Trump will only be serving four years, there will still irreversible, fatal effects.

According to Janet Larsen a writer with a degree in Earth systems from Stanford University, by the end of the century, the world’s average temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius. We can avoid a two-degree rise if we limit our carbon emission by no more than 2.9 trillion tons.

We have already used 1.9 trillion tons and we have one trillion left to use between now and forever and at our current rate, that will be in 21 years.

The United States hold such a significant place in the increasing of the greenhouse effect. As a national superpower, Trump who is soon to lead the country, should intervene and make a difference especially considering it emits the second highest amount of greenhouse gases after China.

Trump should initiate a nationwide tax on carbon. This would drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The revenue earned from carbon taxes would then be used to fund green energy industries. This would not only create jobs but prevent global warming.

In an interview with the New York Times, it was revealed that Trump appeared has little knowledge on the issue of climate change as he, “continues to express skepticism at the near-universal scientific consensus on climate change.”

Trump should not only make efforts to educate himself to educate the U.S. population as well. Some ways this could be done could be to provide government-sponsored television and website ads depicting this issue. Trump could even go to the extent as to add climate change as a common core requirement which 42 states follow. This would ensure that future children will be informed of how serious this issue is unlike a good majority of the U.S. population.

Beef is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Trump should propose a higher tax on beef and other meats to discourage citizens in purchasing it. This would drastically reduce greenhouse emissions.

To help out on a global scale, Trump could provide aid to developing countries by helping them switch to environmentally friendly technologies. As a nation, we have access to and have invented so many different technologies that other countries could benefit the earth from using. As nations are further developing, we should aid them in converting to environmentally friendly alternatives such as solar and wind power.

While the issues that so many are fearing because of Trump are important, they are no longer relevant after our earth is dying. We put so much time and energy into deciding who can use what bathroom and who can get married but the thing about equality is that none of it really matters is we are all equally extinct.

Credits:

Created with images by Unsplash - "glacier ice snow"

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