Nov. 8 vote will determine U.S. policy on climate change

Nov. 8 vote will determine U.S. policy on climate change

Nov. 8 vote will determine U.S. policy on climate change
October 31
21:09 2016

As UNT students go out to vote, many don’t realize they’re not just voting for the next president, but for how the United States will act on climate change for the next four years.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have mentioned the environment, but only briefly throughout their campaigns. Clinton said, if elected, she would continue what the Obama administration started. Meanwhile Trump, said he will disband the Environmental Protection Agency, overturn the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan and to ask TransCanada to renew its application for the Keystone Pipeline and withdraw from the Paris Accords.

“If the U.S. pulled out [the worst carbon producer of all nations], then most other countries would also withdraw from the agreement,” environmental science professor Jim Bednarz said. “The effects of climate change are already costing the world and U.S. economy billions of dollars. If the president was still a climate change denier, I’m sure there would be a new populous movement and he or she would be voted out of office. But, we might be past the tipping point by then.”

On Sept. 23, the Scripps Center for Oceanography reported that the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels remained over 400 parts per million for the month of September, typically the lowest month of the year. Four-hundred parts per million is the number climatologists have said for years would be the tipping point at which reversing the effects of climate change are no longer possible.

“[Policy makers] need to recognize the polices put in place by the Obama administration, but at the same time those aren’t quite enough,” said Corey Troiani, Dallas-Fort Worth program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment. “We need to protect places like Houston, New York, New Orleans, and other places that will be affected.”

Troiani also said that it’s not too late to act on the climate, as long as policy makers are on board.

According to the EPA, “worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities increased by 35 percent from 1990 to 2010.” In 2011, the EPA ranked the U.S. second, behind China, for emitting the most carbon dioxide into the air globally.

NASA scientists contend that the effects of climate change can be easily observed in the environment with the shrinking of glaciers, loss of sea ice, accelerated rise in sea level, intense storms and longer heat waves. However, in a 2015 interview with CNN, Trump said, “I don’t believe in climate change.”

“I think if Trump is elected, we won’t see movement on climate action,” political science professor Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha said. “The Clinton administration wants, more or less, to carry on what the Obama administration has been doing.”

Clinton tweeted on Sept. 9, that she intents to have a billion solar panels installed across the U.S. by the end of her first term, and said, “making the wrong choice on climate change would be a disaster for our kids and grandkids.”

While candidates have opposing views on climate change, Eshbaugh-Soha said without real public interest neither candidate will do much in the way of climate action.

“It’s extremely unlikely that we will see any real movement in regards to climate change efforts over the next four years,” Eshbaugh-Soha said. “As typical in most presidential elections the environment doesn’t get much mention. We won’t get much change if it’s not mentioned.”

Art education junior Bethany Pittman said she thinks the president’s stance on the environment is something that should be important to voters.

“I would like a president that is worried about making policies that help the environment,” Pittman said. “It’s really important, especially for future generations.”

Hundreds of scientific and environmental organizations around the world agree climate change is real. It is happening and what nations decide to do about it in the next few years will decide how severely people are impacted in the future.

“The problems are going to affect most of us,” Troiani said. “We need to stop talking about climate change as something that will happen. This will happen in our lifetime. We don’t endorse any candidates, but we strongly encourage people to vote with the environment in mind.”

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Tiffany Ditto

Tiffany Ditto

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