Trump's Wall Could Cause Serious Environmental Damage by Erika Bolstad

Summary of Article: On January 25 President Donald Trump announced his plans to build a wall at the American-Mexican border, following up on his continuous campaign promises. However, scientists predict that the environmental impacts of building a giant, concrete wall running from San Diego to Texas could be detrimental. Despite this, the project shows no sign of slowing down as Congress just passed a law and Trump signed an executive order, both of which would speed up the construction of the border wall. Following these developments there has been a lot of disagreements in the Architect community as well. The CEO of the American Institute of Architects, Robert Ivy, issued a statement after Trump’s election announcing architect’s desire to work with the president on this project. Many members of the AIA disavowed Ivy’s statement on the basis of the environmental impacts it would have, leading to Ivy retracting his statement not soon after.

The environmental implications of the wall are vast and have already been witnessed with the construction of prior border walls. The border wall was attempted by George Bush in the past, with similarly negative environmental results. There was erosion and flooding in border communities because of the wall, as well as jaguars, ocelots and wolves along the walls. The absence of migration corridors in the wall is damaging to the survival of these animals and others. Furthermore, the construction of the wall contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, and consequently global warming.

Analysis of Article: The content of this article is particularly noteworthy because of the severe environmental implications that come with the construction of Trump’s wall, which now seems like an inevitable event. Environmentally, biodiversity will suffer because of its construction, but more significant is its contribution to global warming. The production of cement contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, so making enough to create an enormous concrete wall would have drastic global heating consequences. However, President Trump has denied human-caused climate change in the past, and he even hired Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a man who openly denies human-caused climate change as well. Knowing all this, it’s no surprise that Trump is taking legislative positions that could potentially damage our environment significantly. So what can people do to prevent this? Well, there are several ways that people can help to prevent the construction of the wall. They can support legislation that opposes the construction of the wall, and join interest groups that lobby against it as well. Protests and boycotts have been very present recently, although they hardly seem particularly effective in really changing anything. The most important action one can take, though, is voting against the Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections. Getting rid of a Republican controlled Congress would essentially completely halt Trump’s efforts in building a wall, as party support is a big driver behind how effectively Trump has taken steps towards building the wall.

Big Takeaway: I first picked up this article because Trump has been making a lot of legislative changes and has been in the news a lot recently. What caught my eye the most, though, was this correlation between the border wall and the environment that was announced in the title, two issues that initially seemed completely separate to me. However, after reading the article thoroughly, my biggest takeaway was the need for increased environmental education and teaching to Americans. The fact that people supported Donald Trump, enough so that he won the election, is discouraging considering his statements while campaigning regarding his disbelief that climate change is at all caused by human activities. The fact that he was elected despite these statements speaks volumes about the lack of voter awareness towards the dangers and causes of human-caused climate change. This means, essentially, we need to educate the public more about how serious the implications of climate change really are. The first step to making real impactful change in our democracy is to highlight the downsides of policies like the wall, and exhibit the reality of climate change that so many people deny or choose to ignore.

Credits:

Created with images by Paolo Cuttitta palestine - "Bethlehem" • quapan - "Donald Trump at the RESOLUTE DESK in the Oval Office (25th Jan 2017)" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "National Climate Assessment Released" • Tony Webster - "Mexico / US Pacific Ocean Border Fence" • Michael Vadon - "Vice President Mike Pence at Hershey PA on 12/15/2016 Thank You Tour 2016"

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