November 8, 2016, is a date that will go down in history. Donald J. Trump’s against-all-odds election to the presidency marks a dramatic changing point for the country’s future direction. Mr. Trump’s candidacy was perhaps the most unconventional and polarizing one America has ever seen. His numerous contentious proposals and remarks about many minority groups created passionate opposition as well as equally passionate support- the latter from Americans who are eagerly waiting for him to deliver on his promises to build a wall, register Muslims, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and many other things that have those who oppose him very worried about in the coming four years.
It is important to note that the danger of Trump’s election extends beyond the proposed actions targeted at individual minority groups that have received the most media attention. Trump’s election, and his plans for his presidency, represents a tangible threat to every person on this planet. I am, of course, referring to his positions on climate change and other environmental issues. Climate change is widely regarded to be the greatest threat facing the future of humanity, and the current consensus among 97% of the scientific community is that the atmosphere is warming, the sea levels are rising, and the oncoming environmental transformations will be catastrophic. Yet President-elect Trump does not believe that climate change is real. He has said many times that it is a hoax, with no scientific evidence to back this claim.
Chief among Mr. Trump’s plans when he gets into office is to scrap President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. There will be no incentive for companies within the country to lower their carbon emissions, and the rest of the world, particularly China and India, will lose interest in lowering their own emissions without the United States doing our fair share. Myron Ebell, a well-known climate denier, has been tapped as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency. (And let’s not forget that Trump has said before he’d like to do away entirely with the EPA). He also wants to promote coal, drill new land for oil and gas, cut back spending on renewables, and kill many other environmental regulations- for instance, those on fuel economy. It appears very much that Trump wants to revert the country back to the time before the first environmental policies were written in the 1970s.
We cannot let this happen. The Earth is home to all of us, and it is the only home we will ever have. For this reason, we must prioritize our future health and safety above our current economic growth, and not strive to make a fortune that will be useless if the planet is ruined. The stakes have always been urgent, and now more than ever before, we must unite and take a stand. We must make it clear that the American people (and the world) cannot and will not accept anything less than dramatic and immediate action on climate. This will not be an easy job. But if you care about this planet and about the future of humanity, there is no other choice.
Let this be a call to action: it is all of our responsibilities to make this planet a better place. Don’t know where to begin? Joining an RSO is always a good option- we’re always open to new members here at the Green Observer, as are Students for Environmental Concerns, Red Bison, ActGreen, and many other environmental RSOs on campus. Starting conversations with your local politicians about the environmental issues important to you and your community. Attend rallies. Reduce your own environmental footprint. Tell everyone you know why the environment matters so much. The possibilities are endless — all it takes is a refusal to be apathetic, and a desire to see this world be a better place for everyone.