In 2017, Donald Trump announced the United States would be withdrawing from the landmark Paris Climate Accords, for which the formal withdrawal process began this past November and is expected to conclude this November 4th–that day after election day.
The following year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an alarming report stating the world has 12 years to halt coal consumption and slash carbon dioxide emissions to prevent the atmosphere from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit), over pre-industrial levels lest we lock-in irreparable damage and climate-fueled environmental destruction.
But there’s something even worse than elevated carbon dioxide.
It is a more potent greenhouse gas, and researchers warn it is almost certainly escaping into the atmosphere, accelerating the planet’s warming.
, or Methane Hydrate or Methane Clathrate, have been trapped for tens of thousands of years on the Antarctic seafloor.
As long as it remains down there, feeding microbes in the sediment, we’re fine.
But when water warms above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, abating microbial growth, the clathrate stores dissolve and seep out into the atmosphere above.
Recently, scientists revealed evidence of the first active methane leak from the Antarctic seafloor.
Divers first discovered it by chance in 2011, yet it took until 2016 for researchers to return to the site to study it more closely.
Leading the research was Andrew Thurber from Oregon State University.
Regarding the discovery, he commented:
“It is not good news. It took more than five years for the microbes to begin to show up and even then there was still methane rapidly escaping from the sea floor. The methane cycle is absolutely something that we as a society need to be concerned about.”
Some scientists theorize this methane seepage is the beginning of the process behind a mass extinction event, which the earth has experienced five times already in geologic history.
“Thawing permafrost throughout the Arctic could be releasing an estimated 300-600 million tons of net carbon per year to the atmosphere.”
“We think that should be two to three times bigger by the end of the century based on the kind of forecasting we’ve done.”
Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks explain how unusually hot summers have destabilized subterranean ice blocks frozen solid for millennia, thawing permafrost 70 years ahead of predictions.
Geophysics professor Vladimir Romanovsky warns:
“It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years.”
Since Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, the global community has expressed grave concerns over the lack of leadership the United States previously demonstrated as a lead signatory to the landmark climate blueprint.
“Only with fresh commitments from all nations can the aims of Paris be fulfilled, as current pledges would take the world to a potentially catastrophic 3C of warming.”
Carlos Fuller, lead negotiator of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), adds:
“One can only hope that it is not the final chapter for them, and they will return. As for the rest of the world, there is no excuse for further climate inaction and paralysis. The stakes are simply too high, and the window for meaningful action is closing rapidly.”
So Trump’s re-election does not just forebode a potential end to our republic.
It could literally write the planet’s epitaph.
An analysis from Carbon Brief titled “Four more years of Donald Trump could ‘delay global emissions cuts by 10 years’” states:
“The research, published in Environmental Science and Policy, suggests two presidential terms of US inaction on climate change would create ripple effects across other nations.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden has promised to re-admit us into the Paris Accords, and recently unveiled the most progressive clean energy infrastructure and jobs plan of any Democratic presumptive nominee in history.
- Placing the United States on “an irreversible path” to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- Creating a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035.
- Upgrading four million buildings and weatherize two million homes over four years to improve energy efficiency.
- Shifting major cities toward public transportation while “creating millions of good, union jobs rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
- Ensuring workers are guaranteed the right to unionize in order to collectively bargain labor and health standards for any climate or Green New Deal-related jobs and projects.
- Establishing a “Climate Corps” that supports a new generation of young workers through good-paying jobs that adhere to labor standards.
- Setting up an Environmental Justice Fund to investment in environmental justice projects such as eliminating legacy pollution from toxic waste sites, removing lead in paint and pipelines, guaranteeing safe wastewater and water systems in low-income communities and communities of color.
- Respecting indigenous sovereignty, which means committing to maintaining regulations that strengthen tribal sovereignty and obtain tribal consent on projects on tribal land.
- Holding corporate executives accountable for their workers’ health and safety, and that of impacted communities, including incarceration for intentionally obfuscating or distorting material information.
- Implementing a “climate test” on all new infrastructure.
- Planting over 16 billion trees by 2050, prioritizing communities of color and low-income.
- Rebuilding regional food infrastructures so family farmers can sell more products to local markets.
- Prohibiting new fracking on public lands.
- Offering car owners incentives or rebates for American-made electric vehicles in exchange for older, less fuel-efficient ones, similar to President Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.
Although positive, much of the Trump administration’s environmental regulations rollbacks have irreversibly destroyed many past and potential future gains.
Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Western Environmental Law Center, asserts:
“The Trump administration has abused every opportunity—legal or otherwise—to maximize the oil and gas industry’s profits at the expense of taxpayers, public health, and the climate.”
In her book This Changes Everything, author and activist Naomi Klein argues the reason the United States fails to adequately address climate change is because of the obscene amounts of money fossil fuel companies pump into lawmakers’ (mostly Republican) campaigns.
International borders, economies, food and water supplies, health, education, transportation, energy sources, are all predicted to change with the climate as the planet warms faster than scientists predicted.
We have already passed too many tipping points to avoid some of the climate’s most devastating effects, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel.
There’s too much at stake for our children, grandchildren, great-grand children, and on.
While it’s true the country and world they will inherit will be significantly different from the one they occupy now, it doesn’t mean we should bequeath them an uninhabitable wasteland.
It’s been said before this is the most important election of our lifetimes.
It really is.
Even the environment is screaming an end to Trump.