Donald Trump and the environment: Are we heading towards disaster? Not quite.

Donald Trump emerged victorious in the recent US elections despite mass propaganda against him by media and celebrities alike. He plans to make “America great again”. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to see the environment and ecology of the continent part of the America that needs to rise to greatness.

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He has made his perspective perfectly clear; climate change is a “hoax”, we need to revive the oil and gas industries and “bring down” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This ideally should have been a major talking point in the months leading up to the debate, but that never happened. Let’s talk about it now.

  • Trumps plan with the EPA

Trump has come into office claiming to completely dismantle the EPA. “What they do is a disgrace” is exactly what he has been quoted saying. When further probed about what will happen to the environment, his reply was “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.” A classic statement from a person who is what he is because of capitalism.

Now that he is in office, he has decided not to dismantle the EPA but to revamp it. He has chosen Myron Ebell, well known climate change skeptic to lead this revamp. Other people in line to be part of this revamp, as well as his administration include well known oil barons and lobbyists for fossil fuel companies.

  • The Paris Climate Agreement

While I believe that the targets of this agreement are not at all sufficient to overcome the effects of climate change currently underway, it was definitely a start for the world. For the first time, over 150 nations recognized the danger of runaway fossil fuel usage and other issues pertaining to environmental degradation. In a few years, I’m sure this agreement will be revised and maybe even improved upon.

Trump wants nothing to do with that. He has officially stated the he will “dismantle” the agreement. While he can’t really do that, he can certainly choose not to implement anything the agreement says in America. Everything the Obama administration did with regards to emissions, including targeting to bring down emissions by 28% from the 2005 levels, will probably be reversed.

  • The Clean Power Plan

The plan to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy might be completely scrapped. Public lands will probably released for drilling and other activities. Many of the executives of the fossil fuel companies are positively delighted that Trump is the President!

Is this the end then? Not quite.

We have seen so much improvement in the last 5 years; one man cannot dismantle that.

Even though Trump is now one of the most powerful people in the world, definitely the most powerful in America, certain things are out of his control.

  • Even if he plans to maximize the use of “sweet, beautiful oil” (yes, his words), in a few years it may not be able to compete with the prices of renewable sources of energy. The best thing about renewables is that it can be self-sustaining. Once you install a solar panel, you basically have solar derived electricity in your home almost forever! The prices of renewables has fallen as much as 50% in the last 10 years. If it falls further, people will just switch.

 

  • Many state governments like New York and California have their own environmental protection plans that they are pursuing actively. Issues that come under state-level or local jurisdiction is pretty much out of Trump’s hands. Today, 56% percent of the US population believes in climate change. They agree that we need to take environmental degradation seriously. These people and their communities and states will continue to work towards better environmental practices.

 

  • Even if US pulls out of the climate agreement, it doesn’t mean other countries are going to stop working for it! China and India know that they absolutely have to do something about the environmental practices being followed. New Delhi has been reeling under severe air pollution for the last two weeks, for crying out loud.

 

  • At the end of the day, the president of any country has to answer to the problems of his/her countrymen. If the EPA is revamped and downsized and many of it’s regulations regarding water, air and noise pollution are scrapped, it WILL cause serious environmental implications. Not just the environment, but also severe health implications. When that happens, karma will play it’s part.

 

  • Even if, he decides to implement is hair-brained schemes to improve business and let the environment be, do you really think the people who are affected will let it happen? Think: Dakota Access Pipeline.

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So, there is no need to lose all hope yet. He is only President, not Supreme God. There are things still out of his hands, and we need to use this to our advantage in fighting against environmental degradation. Every activist in the United States and abroad needs to continue fighting for stronger environmental regulations and better environmental practices. We have seen so much improvement in the last 5 years; one man cannot dismantle that. 


 

You can also check out-

  1. A somewhat optimistic view.
  2. 6 key things you need to know about Trump’s environmental plans
  3. Here’s someone who agrees with my take.
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