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Fecteau: Climate Change and Trump

Thursday, March 30, 2017


I’ve been to some seventy countries around the world, and have seen the devastating impact of climate change. From the unusually warm winter temperatures in parts of China to the water shortage in Sao Paulo, Brazil, climate change is something that is leading to shocking changes in our environment. Even domestically, Americans are seeing the impact of climate change with much warmer temperatures than normal. 

With everything going on in the world today, it was somewhat shocking to discover President Donald J. Trump rescinded a number of Obama-era climate change policies. Of those climate-change initiatives being rolled back, this includes a moratorium on coal, the most toxic emitter of carbon emissions. Trump also is working on scrapping the Clean Power Plan which requires power plants to reduce carbon emissions. Just these two rollbacks alone are a gigantic leap backward – there is likely more to follow too. 

In the past, Mr. Trump called climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. This bizarre conspiracy theory on climate science is likely reflected in his current decisions, and on the company he keeps. When he assumed office, Trump surrounded himself with prominent members of the oil industry such as Rex Tillerson – appointing him to U.S. Secretary of State. Furthermore, Trump has a number of climate change deniers in his cabinet such as the leader of the Environment Protection agency Mr. Scott Pruitt. 

Despite what Trump or his cabinet say, climate change impacts all of us in subtle ways. US Defense Secretary James Mattis even cited it as a national-security challenge saying: “Climate change can be a driver of instability…” The precursors for the civil wars in Syria, and Yemen were government inaction in the face of a drought – likely brought on by changing aspects of the weather. From the open space and instability in Syria, for example, the Islamic State has emerged to impose its perverse version of Sharia law across northern Syrian. 

Most international scientific evidence points to human activity as the main contributor to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the evidence for the “warming of the climate” is unequivocal, and believes it is a 90% likelihood it stems from human activity. Let’s also remember, 2016 was the hottest year on record since the temperature was recorded nearly 137-years ago. 

Independent American government agencies endorse the theory that human activity contributed to climate change. NASA affirms “that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gasses produced by human activities.” Alas, this is not about political ideology and should be as cut and dry as it comes.  

Fear not though, we already know some of the answers, but we need the political will. We need to reduce our carbon footprint and transition to cleaner, greener renewable energy, and also transition away from some of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas (e.g. the burning of coal). This is the only way to ensure our children don’t inherit a mess because we failed to address the health of our planet.

I am not a scientist (so I’ve heard), but the science says climate change is real, and human activity is the most likely culprit for the pronounced changes in our climate. We need to start to address it for the good of our planet, and progeny. Unfortunately, Mr. Trump, our president, disagrees. 

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) is a former White House national security intern and Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau


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