The Morning After: How Our Climate Was Ruined by Election Day 2016
Elliot Honeybun-Arnolda is an Environmental, Politics and Society MSc student at University College London. His guest editorial below is titled “America Trumps Climate Change.” Follow him on Twitter @ellhoneybun.
.Climate change is undoubtedly the most pervasive and prominent risk to human and social welfare.
The morning after the U.S. election, climate change is still undoubtedly the most pervasive and prominent risk to human and social welfare. Except, the possibility of mitigation may have just become substantially more restrictive.
Many of us may be unaware that ‘failure of climate change mitigation and adaption’ has been labeled the risk with greatest potential impact on humans in 2016 by the World Economic Forum, for the first time ever. The threat is obvious and clear. Yet, the United States of America have taken a huge leap backward. One reason, Donald Trump.
Trump is one of many individuals who persists in arguing the legitimacy of anthropogenically induced climate change, one of the many climate science conspiracy theorists. Yet, the rest of these individuals are not the next president of the United States.
The reality is, someone as stubborn as Trump cannot be convinced. Trump believes ‘global warming’ to be a hoax; Trump also believes his opinion is synonymous with truth.
The Paris Agreement (the first ever, legally-binding, widely spread among 195 countries) began its first steps in implementation earlier this month, with the USA and China leading the charge. A significant step toward obtaining a lower-carbon future is achieved when the two largest emitters of atmospheric carbon legally agree to limit (and aim for well below) global average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
However, with Trump in the White House, we can be certain the Paris Agreement will no longer run smoothly. The tension between states and geopolitical anxiety is certain if Trump doesn’t follow through with the agreement (highly likely after already opposing the idea during his campaign rallies).
With the United States being a powerful global figure in world politics, having an individual who is so ignorant of climate change has the ability to destabilise climate change mitigation in countries that are influenced and attempt to ‘reconstruct’ the economic freedom and welfare of American policy (if the United States are not abiding by agreements than why should they?).
Now, I am not saying Hilary Clinton is a substantially better choice. I sympathize with the people of America for their lack of options in voting. However, at least Clinton made some hint at positive climate policy during her rallies. Which is better than disbelieving the entire concept.
Do not get me wrong. Previous climate change mitigation attempts have been lackluster. Progress is needed fast and desperately, if we are going to have any hope of protecting the planet, I am just stating that with Trump at the helm, our already fragile attempts at climate change mitigation are as good as broken.
For now, I guess all we can do is wait and see; it may not all be doom and gloom. There is plenty you can do at home to help combat climate change. Simple things such limiting your consumption of meat (or abstaining completely), recycling, walking or taking public transit instead of taking your car can make lots of difference. Also, get involved in your community and local politics to create change on a micro level.
In times of uncertainty, we all need to work together to achieve big goals and not be defeated by Trump ideology.