As everyone has heard by now, Donald Trump has announced his intentions to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. It’s an illogical and foolish decision that could prove to be the worst of many bad policy decisions. It also flies in the face of at least 31 facts Trump is ignoring.
Climate change is real. Since the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century and early 19th century, the average temperature on Earth has warmed by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Climate change is caused by human activities like chopping down rain forests, raising cattle and burning fossil fuels. Most of the world’s scientists agree on the above two points. Over 97 percent of peer-reviewed journal articles by working climate scientists demonstrate a consensus that climate change exists and is caused by human activity.
Climate change will have dangerous and expensive consequences including megadroughts, rising seas and mass extinction. Some scientists fear we may already be in the midst of a sixth mass extinction – and the last mass extinction wiped out the dinosaurs. The United States will not be spared. Coastal cities like New York will be inundated by rising seas, for example. The people of Miami Beach, Florida are already trying to prepare by installing pumps and raising street levels. Some Alaskans plan to relocate altogether, for the combination of melting ice and rising seas make some coastal villages uninhabitable.
Alaskans won’t be the only climate refugees, either. There could be hundreds of millions, as disasters linked to climate change, like drought, wildfires, or rising seas, drive people out of their homes. Low-lying islands like the Marshall Islands could be completely submerged by rising seas.
Climate change will exacerbate natural disasters. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, wildfire seasons in the US are two months longer than they were in the 1970s. Heatwaves are also becoming deadlier. In 2015, a heatwave in India killed 2330 people. WHO has reported that three million people die every year from causes related to air pollution.
Humans dump 1200 tonnes (metric tons) or 1322.8 US tons into the atmosphere every second. That equals 40 billion metric tons per year! The US bears the lion’s share of the blame for climate change, too. Historically, it has been the world’s biggest polluter and has recently dropped down to second place.
The good news is that there are solutions. For example, humans need to switch to renewable energy sources post haste. According to Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, the US already has the needed technology to make such a change. The costs of green energy sources have dropped dramatically over the years, so they are now competitive with fossil fuels or will be. Switching to renewable energy sources will also provide economic opportunities for people; there are already more jobs in solar power than there are in coal mining. Some US cities and states are already exploiting those opportunities by switching. For example, in 2016, Iowa got nearly 37 percent of its electricity from wind power.
Other countries are also switching to renewable energy sources. China is the biggest market for solar power and it invests more in renewable energy than any other country. India, the third-biggest polluter in the world, has decided to embrace electric cars. Piyush Goyal, the Prime Minister, has announced a goal of having India switch to all electric cars by 2030.
The Paris Agreement is important. It was signed by 195 countries and ratified by 147 countries. It stipulates that each member country set their own goals for reducing emissions by 2020 and contribute to a fund to help poorer countries deal with the effects of climate change.
There was no reason for leaving the Paris Agreement, for it gave its members plenty of wiggle room. Trump could have easily come up with his own initiatives for meeting the 2020 deadline. The vast majority of Americans, including many business leader, support the Paris Agreement. The only things Trump accomplished by withdrawing were appeasing the troglodytes in his base and isolating the US from the rest of the world.