The Earth Isn’t Political, But Politics Can Kill It
Climate change policies from the past, present and into the future
( Markus Spiske / Unsplash)
The earth is burning — not only in California, but in the Arctic and, yes, in Europe too. The very source of life and sentience is dying. So why does no one care, and why is the issue so polarized?
Eighty-five percent of Democrats conclude that the environment should be a top priority for the president and Congress. Meanwhile, only 39% of Republicans and GOP learners believe it should, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey.
But environmental policy hasn’t always been so partisan. In fact, Republicans led part of the climate change way.
In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a “strong, independent agency” to control pollution. Six years after Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, it was five Republicans who signed a letter urging the party to strengthen the act by disallowing industrial pollution in national parks.
Republican President George H. W. Bush later expanded the Clean Air Act. He also signed an international Framework Convention on climate change and acknowledged the human role in global warming.
This isn’t to say that all Republican presidents have small ecological footprints. Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush can attest to that.
Regan’s administration deregulated the EPA and cut the budget and staff. Bush also undermined scientific findings by delaying protections like a stricter drinking water standard for arsenic, which led to more harmful exposure to mercury emissions. He denied humans cause climate change.
But in an age when ecosystems and lives are decaying and fraying away, one begins to question why policies aren’t changing with the earth’s condition.
The Trump administration is rolling back 100 environmental protection policies. The Harvard Law School found that he has officially reversed nearly 70 environmental rules and 30 more rollbacks are in process. Some of the regulations removed include limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and cars, as well as some governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals. These rollbacks could increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of deaths from poor air quality every year.
Chris Wallace, the first 2020 Presidential Debate moderator, asked Trump “what do you believe about the science of climate change?” First of all, this question is really over a century due, and climate change is not a “belief.” It is a fact, so we don’t need to go into that. Climate change has already been proven.
Trump responded businesses are doing well, and he said he rolled back the Clean Power Plan because it was “driving energy prices through the sky.”
Asking people to leave behind their posterity for the environment is a lost cause. But they don’t have to.
Climate change policies impact only a small percentage of the economy.
According to an assessment by the Stern Review on climate change, the policies would have almost no effect on the rate of economic growth. Climate change policies would be enacted slowly, and as a result, an economy that would have grown at a rate of 3% per year would grow at 2.95% per year if the policies had costs described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This impact is very small.
A recent study by McKinsey and Company found technologies that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 up to 46% at a maximum cost of $50 per tonne of CO2, or 44 cents per gallon of gasoline.
Again, this cost is too small to have major impacts on economic activity.
In the short-run, the Stern Review estimates the policies will lessen economic output by about 1%. However, long-run economic damages of failing to stabilize the climate would result in a permanent 5-20% reduction in consumption and income. Taking action now is the only option, regardless of losses.
And as Biden often says, environmental protection will create jobs.
“Somebody makes and sells the air pollution control technologies we put on power plants and motor vehicles,” a post on Columbia University’s Earth Institute read. “Somebody builds the sewage and water treatment facilities. Just as someone makes money off of solar cells and windmills.”
Policies that help the environment reap other benefits too. The cleaner Hudson River made the waterfront better for housing development and the prices rose.
Cleaner air and water leads to healthier food and better-preserved nature — This all improves human’s health (especially for marginalized groups who face the worst of pollution). Plus, these changes can further boost the economy.
Ultimately, sustainability means producing goods that will last and that will remain. According to the Harvard Business Review, sustainable investing means creating cost savings, eliminating risks and establishing positive views of brands that will bring in more investors. Green on the earth, and in our pockets, as well.
Looking ahead, Trump says he wants crystal clean air and water, but his policies say otherwise. Though he later acknowledged its existence, Trump has called climate change a “hoax” and proposed to leave out the “worst case scenarios” and implications of climate change after 2040 (when it gets worse) from the National Climate Assessment.
Biden does not side with the Green New Deal but promises a $2 trillion plan to invest in a green-jobs program to build renewable energy infrastructure. He aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Yes, humans have destroyed much. We’ve slashed through sources of life and sentience as though they are expendable objects. We’ve minced trees’ wood, slitted animals’ bodies, tainted the very air we breathe, and even contorted human minds (if you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma, do it) — all for profit. We are so hypnotized by money that we are blind to the burning earth around us.
But the earth is burning. The earth is dying. Wake up!!! Open your eyes!
I don’t know about you, but I want to be old and still see forests of green. I want to breathe clean air and cocoon myself in nature’s beauty. I want animals and all life forms to not only survive but thrive, and not just for our use. None of this will be possible soon.
Vote and consciously act for the earth. Because policies won’t matter when the earth overheats.
Katie Delk is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. Her simple pleasures include meditating, sitting beneath trees, writing poetry and blasting ’70s music. She cares immensely about the earth, powerful women and social justice. You can reach her at email@example.com more info.