Climate change is one of the few issues faced globally. Politics, geography, race, and culture all differ, but man-made greenhouse gases destroying the atmosphere affects everyone. One might believe that a crisis like this would inspire quick and effective action by governments. However, little legislative action has been passed despite the thousands of protests held by students who will face these issues later. The current president, Donald Trump, doesn’t even believe climate change is real and has been making various excuses to avoid taking action throughout his term. If the youth is truly going to take the fight into their own hands, they need to understand the difference between obstacles and excuses in governments and guilty corporations.
When it comes to excuses and unfulfilled promises, the United States is unmatched. In 2015, 195 countries signed the infamous Paris Agreement. The deal was to keep global warming from exceeding two degrees a year. Today, almost all 195 countries have fallen behind on their promises and would have to make impossible changes to catch up. In 2017 the Trump Administration made the fateful decision to pull the U.S. out of the agreement, and this was the start of a string of environmental regulation rollbacks enacted by the President and EPA.
Some of Trump’s more environmentally offensive changes have included the revocation of NASA’s climate monitoring program in May 2018, rollbacks on economic rules in the Endangered Species Act in July 2018, and the loosening of restrictions on oil and gas companies’ methane use and greenhouse gas emissions in September and December 2018, respectively. In fact, Trump believes climate change is a “hoax,” and that whatever is off balance in the atmosphere will “change back again.” This type of leadership is dangerous because it encourages the gullible to ignore official, accepted scientific reports in favor of conspiracy theories and economic interests. The U.S. is choosing to ignore reports that predict severe global crises in the next one hundred years in order to save the American economy of Trump’s term.
This is the choice many governments make in the face of making a costly change. It is the biggest procrastination scheme of the century. The reasons range from supporter pressure and economic hardship to prioritization and general disbelief that climate change is man-made exists in the first place or is an urgent problem. While developing countries may have more urgent problems to deal with, developed countries such as Europe, the U.K., and Germany have no good excuses for inaction.
The U.S. government is in the pocket of big oil and gas companies that operate in the U.S. and abroad, and who take no notice of the pollutants they release into the atmosphere. Some of these companies, such as Exxon Mobil, make more than $344 billion in revenue each year. Exxon also donates $1.5 million to Congressional candidates each term, giving them heavy influence in how environmental legislation is voted on. There are six major energy companies across the world, and all of them play the same game. This major source of corruption must be handled before any impacting, long-lasting change can be made.
Research for climate change, and science, in general, has taken a backseat with federal funding. According to The New Yorker, the Trump Administration has cut funding for the United States Agency for International Developments’ (U.S.A.I.D) environmental related initiatives to seventy percent of the Obama Administration’s funding. EPA funding has continuously been cut in Trump’s yearly budget proposals. For 2019, the president proposed cutting funding by 24 percent, leaving the agency with $6.1 billion to fund all programs and research.
Taking hold of the climate change problem, as the biggest nation in the world, requires a leader that does not shun science or consistently make remarks solely to keep the support of his right-wing base. Even Trump supporter, Martin Munoz (12), disagrees with the president’s lack of attention to the environment. “In my opinion, it’s a horrible decision from Trump because there is no denying the effects of carbon dioxide and other gases and chemicals on our atmosphere as a whole. Climate change should be viewed as one, if not the most, urgent problem of today because it doesn’t just affect animals. It affects the planet as a whole, which includes us.”
The youth are taking charge. Sixteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism on climate change legislation. On March 15, thousands of kids in over 30 countries took place in the School Strike 4 Climate march. The question is not whether the youth will succeed in implementing climate change legislation in the future. The turnout for the march, along with many similar ones, gives little doubt they won’t. The question is whether it will be too late when they do.