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Global warming under the Trump administration

With Trump's "America Comes First" slogan, what does the future hold for America?

Lauren Katz, Copy Editor

In April, Earth Day came and went, although, only four months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, the Trump administration showed there wasn’t much to celebrate. Despite being ineffective in certain areas of policy, the Trump Administration has proven successful in demolishing lifetimes of work to protect planet earth.

The Trump Administration laid out a series of measures to ensure America becomes re-polluted. In February, for example, the Department of Energy delayed creating energy-efficiency standards for air conditioners, freezers and ceiling fans. According to the department’s predictions, the standards would prevent 300 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

A few months later, the E.P.A. reassessed Obama’s Clean Power Plan, regulations aimed at reducing power plant pollution. The Clean Power Plan would have decreased carbon emissions by 900 million tons, as well as prevented over 3,000 premature deaths per year.

A commonly asked question is as follows: “How can a group that is unsuccessful in other areas of policy be so effective when it comes to unraveling environmental protection?” The short answer has to do with money; many corporations may profit from environmental deregulation, as rules prove expensive to comply with.

How can a group that is unsuccessful in other areas of policy be so effective when it comes to unravelling environmental protection?”

But while money is at the forefront of many people’s minds, it is not a complete answer. In the long run, more money can be made from imposing regulations. A study from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget found that benefits of EPA regulations outweigh the costs. This is because although environmental regulations impose costs on businesses, they also create jobs by enforcing pollution prevention efforts. Additionally, the economy saves money by avoiding negative health effects; pollutant particles may cause respiratory diseases, for example, which increase health care costs in order to treat.

Ultimately, addressing a global environmental issue such as climate change requires global cooperation. Trump’s “America comes first” slogan, along with his disdain for global cooperation, both of which are characteristic of a populist agenda, pose a problem. Trump is therefore faced with two options: offer an alternative approach or disregard the problem altogether. The latter is precisely the route he’s taken.

As much as Trump would like to think America operates in its own bubble, environmental rollbacks could have serious consequences on the rest of the planet; because countries may view rollback as a sign that the U.S. is retreating from global climate leadership, there might be a downslide on a country’s commitments; one example is Brazil, which struggles to meet standards due to deforestation.

Another consequence of the decision for the United States would likely be a loss of influence as climate change becomes increasingly central to negotiations between countries; as countries continue pressing forward, the US will only become more isolated.

To acknowledge that the Earth is worth protecting means that the U.S. must work with other environmentally aware countries. Moreover, if Trump wishes to leave a longstanding legacy, he must first  ensure there is a healthy planet to do so.

Ultimately, many issues regarding the environment will be brought before the Court, which is predicted to swing right after Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation. Gorsuch’s mother was an anti-environmentalist head of the E.P.A., and Gorsuch is filling Scalia’s seat, who notably questioned why the E.P.A. couldn’t say that climate-change science was uncertain.

In the coming years, the Supreme Court may be asked what the E.P.A.’s responsibility is, as well as what is means to have a President who so clearly dismisses science and cold, hard evidence.

 

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Global warming under the Trump administration