On Black Friday, the Trump administration released a rather foreboding report on the economic impacts of climate change. Despite the fact that the report originated from his own administration, the President was quick to criticize it, arguing that the report came from Obama loyalists and that it was a partisan hit job that relied on “extreme models” to draw its conclusions.
According to the report, “In the absence of significant global mitigation action and regional adaptation efforts, rising temperatures, sea level rise, and changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities. Regional economies and industries that depend on natural resources and favorable climate conditions, such as agriculture, tourism, and fisheries, are vulnerable to the growing impacts of climate change.”
There’s little argument about whether or not the climate is changing. However, the debate lies in whether or not human beings are the cause of climate change, and, ergo, whether or not there is anything we can do to reverse it.
President Trump rightly argues that our efforts to reduce climate change are more harmful to the American economy than climate change itself. This is certainly true for the present day; whether it remains true in the future depends on the true cause of climate change and just how impactful it will end up being.
In June 2017, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris-Climate agreement. Regardless of what the realities of climate change might be, this agreement was a terrible deal for the United States, forcing us to hand over billions of dollars to the United Nations while other countries in the agreement did nothing to hold up their end of the bargain.
However, Trump did leave open the possibility of returning to a deal designed to reduce emissions so long as the deal was fair to the United States, saying, “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or really an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, and its taxpayers.”
Despite the doom and gloom found in the most recent climate change report, it hasn’t been all bad news for the environment recently, leading many to conclude that climate change isn’t nearly as serious a problem as it is propped up to be. For example, Nature recently released a report showing that global tree canopy has increased by 865,000 square miles over the past thirty-four years. This is good news on a number of fronts, one of which being that trees are able to convert carbon emissions into oxygen, helping reduce any impact that man might be having on the global climate.
Climate change still remains a hot-button issue, largely because no one knows for sure what’s causing it. Politicians on the left act as if man-made climate change is a proven reality, yet this is far from the truth. Meanwhile, many politicians on the right completely dismiss the possibility that man plays a role in climate change while some argue that climate change doesn’t even exist. This isn’t exactly a proven or fact-based position either.
It’s difficult not knowing what is going on with our world when the stakes are as high as they are, yet that’s the position we now find ourselves in. Poorly thought out regulations and throwing taxpayer money at the problem to prevent climate change are knee-jerk reactions that have not been proven to have any real impact. Ignoring or dismissing the issue, though, may prove to be costly in the future if climate change does indeed end up having the impact that some in the scientific community predict that it will.
Of course, with technology changing as rapidly as it currently is, there’s no way to predict what solutions we may be able to come up with in the future. Likewise, there’s no way to predict what findings we will uncover.
In the near future, we may develop technology that reduces or eliminates emissions while at the same time being reliable and cost-effective. We may also prove that climate change is a natural phenomenon that man plays no role in. For now, it’s simply too early to know for sure.