Global warming is a contentious issue on par with abortion, same-sex marriage, and school vouchers. Although it may not seem particularly touchy on the surface, any debate about environmental regulations will quickly bring about yelling and screaming between liberals and conservatives. While it may not inflame religious passions or be an issue targeted around children, the climate change debate focuses on something equally as polarizing: Money.
Liberals believe that human activity since the late 1800s has caused the earth’s average temperature to rise due to the greenhouse effect. Basically, all the industrialization we have enjoyed over the last 150 years has pumped large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, where they now reflect sunlight back onto us. As temperatures rise, a host of negative things happen, ranging from rising sea levels (due to melting polar ice caps) to more heat waves to longer-lasting droughts. Across the board, global warming is thought to contribute to more extreme weather, ranging from wetter blizzards in the winter to more hurricanes during the summer.
Conservatives say that we shouldn’t rush to blame industrialization for “global warming.” Although conservatives are not unified on whether global warming is occurring at all, with some acknowledging that temperatures are indeed rising, most tend to believe that liberal angst is a gross overreaction. Some say that climate change is simply occurring naturally, as it has always done throughout earth’s history. Others say that liberals are fearmongering with tales of coastal cities being flooded and droughts and famines ravishing the land.
Any time it snows, of course, you have plenty of conservatives making cracks about global warming, which infuriates liberals. The science is complex, which makes it easy for any cold front to make common citizens have doubts about the severity of global warming. And the fact that there are still extreme winter conditions, such as the 2015 polar vortex that landed on the U.S. east coast, raises further doubts in the minds of moderates and independents.
But, with 97 percent of scientists in agreement that global warming is occurring and is caused by humans, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s a problem brewing. Ice caps are melting, wet places are getting wetter, and dry places are getting drier. It is predicted that crop yields will suffer, which is bad news considering that our global population is expected to grow. By the year 2100, it is believed that global warming will have drastic effects, including a sea level rise of one to four feet and frequent heat waves across the American West and Southwest.
Combating this likely outcome will require lots of government regulation of industry, which means money. Regulated industries will likely lose money, and will either go out of business or only survive through government subsidies. Either way, taxpayers will feel the pinch. Politically, the biggest boogeyman in the argument over environmental regulation has been jobs. Republicans have long declared that environmentalism has increased unemployment by causing businesses to lay off workers due to higher costs of production.
If you have to pay to produce cleanly, you can’t keep on as many workers.
President Donald Trump has stuck strongly to that belief, declaring his disdain for environmentalism and beliefs in global warming. During his 2016 campaign, he criticized government regulations for holding American businesses back. As president, he has sought to reduce the “regulatory burden” felt by industry, insinuating that jobs will return if pesky environmental laws are repealed.
In his strongest show of anti-environmentalism yet, Trump appears poised to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, which brought together most of the industrialized world to agree on pollution caps in an attempt to limit global warming. Included in this proposed withdrawal is a pledge to end all U.S. funding for “UN global warming programs.” Trump's administration thinks that global warming is a bunch of job-sapping hooey.
But you can’t beat facts, and Trump is leading America down the wrong path. Of course, nobody is happy when environmental regulations hurt the job market. As president, however, you must consider the long term, which includes the job markets of 2050 and 2100. Ignoring global warming and allowing polluters to churn out tons of greenhouse gases unrestricted will lead to the future decimation of coastal metropolises and prime farmland. Much of the upcoming damage from global warming is inevitable, and pretending there’s not a problem will lead to real deaths and job losses thirty years from now.
To save cities and crops, we need the government to be working on solutions today. Global warming is an insidious problem because complex variables move and change at different rates. At best, you start trying to fix the problem today, and future damage is only moderate. At worst, you start trying to fix the problem in 2050, when Miami and Manhattan are waterlogged disaster areas, and future damage will be catastrophic. We should have done more fifteen years ago, and Trump wants us to wait fifteen more years to do anything.
Of course, Trump and his cronies won’t be around to see the effects of his anti-environmentalism. At age 70, and currently obese, it is almost guaranteed that Trump won’t make it through the 2020s. He will pass on and have his state funeral when there’s still crisp autumns and winter snows. But his grandchildren and their children will pay the price.
And Trump’s sneering today at global warming will not only worsen the environmental damage we will see in future decades; it will hurt foreign relations right now. Not only is our president breaking an agreement with many geopolitical and economic allies, but increasing our national pollution will harm their respective lands in the future. It’s not just a political faux pas – leaving the Paris climate agreement will cause real harm to our allies. After Trump’s grousing over NATO, mocking allies’ efforts to combat global warming will only widen the rift between us and Europe.
When 2020 rolls around, this will come up big time.