When the Trump administration’s 2018 fiscal budget proposal included 40 percent of funding cut for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), few were surprised. The president doesn’t seem to understand what is at stake with such cuts. If passed, Trump's proposed budget will impose significant funding cuts from enforcement programs that impose penalties on environmental offenders. With reports of polluted water on the rise, funding cuts for public water monitoring programs could leave millions of Americans at risk from poorly treated water.
What else could the president do to show he has no regard for the environment? The answer is in his detrimental choice to pull out from the Paris agreement, stating that he has been elected as a president of “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” President Trump believes that climate change is a hoax and this decision to pull out will relieve economic and financial burdens on U.S. workers that Obama had poorly negotiated. This decision faces major criticism and disappointment domestically and across the world.
We are a land of hypocrites in global eyes
It seems clear President Trump has no regard for the little blue planet on which the human race resides because we can always build a bigger or better one, right? As President Trump might say, this is “Wrong” and “Sad.”
The U.S. is the only nation to pull out, aside from Syria and Nicaragua, which have their own valid reasons for rejecting the accord. The two countries don’t produce significant emissions, and Syria was in a civil war while Nicaragua wanted a more stringent accord.
In one fell swoop of a gratuitous ax, Trump has decimated a landmark response to the global crisis of climate change and landed deeper in disfavor around the world. This decision shows the U.S. as a land of hypocrites, ready to turn tail on any serious agreement. In global eyes, any measure of respectability the nation had retained may be lost, and at worst, the nation is seen as unreliable in its agreements and ability to show up.
The irony is that many CEOs and bigwigs of major coal and oil companies were opposed to the withdrawal of the nation from the Paris agreement. Cloud Peak Energy, Shell, and Exxon Mobile had all personally asked Trump to stay in the agreement and remain committed to reducing carbon emissions. CEOs of Microsoft, Apple and Google also penned letters describing their disappointment.
Trump played a successful businessman on reality TV but that never meant he would do the same in the White House. Trump is keeping his campaign promises, but at what coast to future generations? It’s clear that he doesn’t care, and this withdrawal from the Paris agreement only places the U.S. in a draconian viewpoint of environmental and economic growth, instead of the relief from draconian burdens that the president falsely hopes for.
Working with the environment isn’t so hard
Go back a few decades and solar and wind energy looked expensive compared to natural gas or clean coal. These days, climate change can be affordably and effectively tackled, create new jobs, generate new forms of reliable energy while benefiting the environment and the economy.
Transitioning to environmentally friendly energy and reducing fossil fuels is easier than people think. In fact, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the pricing and efficiency the nation has now on energy. Energy storage for solar and window power is more efficient with technology, and the price points are almost comparable to existing resources, just with less impact. For people whose health suffers from living in air-polluted cities, there are bigger benefits — health savings and a longer life.
Climate change is here. It’s happening, and whether or not you believe in it, the shift to environmentally friendly energy isn’t so hard or expensive as you may think.
Yet, Trump’s agenda seems to be to undo everything that Obama ever put together during his terms in office, with no real answers for effective policy replacement. Instead, there is a bully in the White House looking for applause, while playing with people’s lives and the environment.
Thankfully many cities and states are vowing to maintain their own version of the Paris agreement and step up to address climate change issues. If there’s one thing this presidency reminds us all of, it’s the ability to pull together and empower individual voices to create positive change.
The president may not care about the environment, but the people do.