America’s contribution to a better environment

Illustration by Dominic Davies

In November 2016, the Paris Agreement was made effective, marking a huge step toward combating climate change as each country was required by the agreement to mitigate global warming. Along with that, the global average temperature increase was then required to be below 2 degrees Celsius. This was an amazing decision to globally contribute to fighting global warming and bettering our environment. 

In June 2017, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from this agreement and that is only the beginning of his poor environmental decisions that need to be reconsidered by our next president. 

Following this hazardous decision was the rollback of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that was signed in 1969. This law required there be consideration of environmental consequences before projects were approved. It was stated in a CNBC article that because this law slows down the completion of projects. Trump felt that these projects should be sped up, and as a result, rolled the law back. 

Now there may be pipelines, highways and power plants built without a second thought spared for environmental consequences. Not to mention, the negative effect this has on the local communities who used to be empowered to have a say in these projects being built in their areas through NEPA, according to Public Radio International. A lot of neighborhoods already facing polluted areas are now at risk to have the air in their communities worsened, among other issues.

Rolling back the NEPA was only the beginning of Trump’s 100 total rollbacks, as documented by The New York Times, which did not help us as a country to move forward. This is certainly not an admirable accomplishment, especially in a time when our environment is already at risk to suffer long-term negative effects. 

With this upcoming election, our future president should plan to take steps to improve our environment after these detrimental decisions that have been made. 

One of the biggest obstacles that should be addressed by our next president is the fact that climate change was delisted from national security threats in December of 2017. Climate change, although controversial, is detrimental to our planet and a well-known global threat. Downplaying the severity of such an issue needs to be brought to light. Climate change is an issue that should be relisted as a threat, along with more awareness brought to the topic and steps taken to mitigate it, for example, re-signingthe Paris Climate Agreement. 

Proof of climate change has been provided time and time again and is an issue that becomes more apparent daily. The livelihood and success of the next generation and future of our species relies on our reaction to climate change in this very moment. Thus, it is one of the most important problems for our next president to work on.

Another proactive plan for our environment that was dismantled throughout Trump’s presidency was Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was to be in place by 2030 and dropping carbon emissions 32% below 2005 levels. Trump’s well-meaning idea to scrap this plan held promises of restoring coal mining jobs, which gained the support of states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to National Geographic. 

Unfortunately, taking away the Clean Power Plan in 2017not only created minimal improvements for coal miners, but of course derailed our progress at cutting carbon emissions. 

This is a prime example of an issue that our future leader must take action for. What would have been a significant change in only ten years will now be prolonged. However, it is better for our next president to take similar actions to the Clean Power Plan than do nothing and that is what we should hope to see as a country after November’s election. 

Recently, we have been moving backwards environmentally when, as a country, we should be taking steps toward fostering a better environment and contributing to keeping our planet healthy. Our future leader should view environmental laws as a necessity because the pros outweigh the cons when our planet is at stake. 

While it is beneficial to us, to some extent, to have projects completed faster, the urgency of improving protection for our environment must be heavily considered.

Years from now, it would be unfortunate to look at our past and see that we chose to make such damaging choices. At this point, it is evident that our next president has many steps to take to make America green again.