If you think climate change does not matter or is only a problem for a far-off future generation, let me introduce you to some facts happening today. The “permafrost” in the Arctic is melting and soon there will be a year-round water passage in the Arctic Circle where some countries, especially Russia, are hoping to exploit for oil drilling.
Nearly every month is hotter than the one prior, and every year certainly is, going back to the 1990s. Sea levels are rising, storms are intensifying and please do not be fooled by our current, unfortunate, climate-denying administration.
This is science and these are facts that cannot be denied because you don’t like what they say. President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are, quite simply, wrong. Ignore their effort to have a “debate” about the matter. That gives far too much credence to the skeptics. In fact, the debate effort even appears to be delayed due to disagreement among administration officials on how to proceed.
Look at the lengths that the Trump administration is willing to go to manipulate or muddy the facts. Pruitt has dismissed members of EPA’s scientific advisory councils and replaced them with people with close ties to industry. He bars anyone from serving on an EPA panel who receives grant money from the agency, which includes many academics. He uses language about how humans are impacting the climate but it’s impossible to say how much with certainty.
That last statement is an untruth. The vast majority of climate scientists agree that human activity that emits greenhouse gases is responsible for the rapid warming over the industrial era. Data doesn’t lie and the impacts are being felt now and will only get worse. Look at the rapid succession of hurricanes this past summer and the devastating wildfires in California. It is, for the time being, up to us, and that includes you if you are reading this, to act when our government refuses to do so.
Take a group of 21 young people from across the country who are suing the government in federal court arguing it is violating their constitutional rights to a livable planet. The youth are likely to bring their case to trial in Oregon and it will be an interesting case to watch. Juliana v. United States is now in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit where judges indicated Dec. 11, they were unlikely to accept the Trump administration’s effort to halt it.
So what can you do personally even if you aren’t able to go to court? There is plenty including being aware of your “carbon footprint” and seeking to reduce it. Don’t drive (or ride in) a car when you can walk or ride a bicycle. Carpool. Turn off lights you are not using. Recycle. Bring your own bags to stores. Shop at businesses that have carbon-friendly policies. Be aware.
There are cool online calculators like this one: https://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/index.htm to determine the amount of carbon you are emitting and how to reduce it.
You can also get involved politically at the local, state and federal levels. Go to a local government meeting and ask to see the clean energy policies, and if they don’t exist, ask they be enacted. Ask about opportunities to purchase renewable energy for electricity. Ask about procurement policies. Demand accountability from your government.
At the state and federal level, lobby your representatives to act to impose mandatory greenhouse gas reductions either through sector-based policies or a carbon tax. Right now there are a handful of states that do so and momentum may be building in Congress but we are not even close to action. However, if you reach out you might be surprised how receptive these folks may be. You can call them, show up at a meeting or write them an email.
Always remember that government is supposed to serve its people. The current administration is an outlier but even it is doing some things that will be helpful to the planet, including staying in an international global warming treaty that aims to reduce refrigerants, which are potent greenhouse gases, even if it is planning to be the only country in the world that refuses to be a part of the Paris Agreement.
Remember that. While the “debate” may appear to be raging in the United States, we are very much alone in our disagreement. And even if our current leadership sucks on these issues, you can always continue to push and prod them as well. EPA is trying to repeal President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that required power plants – especially coal plants – to reduce greenhouse gases.
EPA is taking public comment on that plan until April 26, 2018 and comments can be filed here: https://www.epa.gov/stationary-sources-air-pollution/clean-power-plan-proposed-repeal-how-comment
Whatever you decide to do, get involved. We only have one planet and it’s all of our responsibility to ensure it is healthy.
Editors note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com.