BY SAMAN SALAHUDDIN
In a span of three years, the United Nations Messenger of Peace on Climate Change and oscar-winning actor, Leonardo Dicaprio, traveled all over the world— from the farmlands in India to the polar ice-sheets— in an attempt to answer, arguably, the most most important question facing our generation: “How can we stop climate change?” From his travels came the heart–wrenching environmental advocacy documentary, “Behind The Flood,” which features climate scientist and advocates including Pope Francis and President Obama.
After an hour and a half of apocalyptic scenarios and devastating images, sure to leave you trembling, Dicaprio ended the film with a hopeful monologue, urging viewers to act in big ways and small. Yet, on Tuesday November 8th, all that hope shattered when Donald Trump, a known climate change denier, won the US presidential election.
Trump, throughout the campaign trail, repeatedly said that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese. On the campaign trail, he continuously promised his supporters that on his first day in the Oval Office, he will repeal all of President Obama’s executive orders—the majority of which deal with climate change and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. As if that was not bad enough, Trump has also promised to “cancel” the Paris Climate Agreement which intends to limit global warming by 2 percent. Considering that the United States is the leader of the free world, if we back down from the Paris Agreement, many others countries may not feel as compelled to carry out the goal and may follow suit.
To all those who remain hopeful that Trump may not enact many of his controversial campaign promises– since he did change his stance on Obama Care and the infamous Wall just days after the election– unfortunately climate change seems to be the only promise he has not backtracked on yet. Trump has appointed Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to head the transition of the EPA. Ebell, during an interview for the documentary “Everything’s Cool,” said that “the whole case for global warming, I believe, is silly and I believe the vast majority of scientists think it’s silly.” To clarify, the vast majority of scientists, around 97% according to NASA–and Americans– think that climate change is real and poses a very serious threat to our physical world. However Ebell’s comments are not surprising considering the fact that Competitive Enterprise institute was once largely funded by ExxonMobil and that Vanity Fair in a 2007 profile called him an “oil industry mouthpiece.” Ebell and Trump are not alone in their beliefs; according to a study by The Center for American Progress Action Fund, almost one third of congressmen and women are known climate change deniers. This statistic is especially alarming considering the Republicans now have control of the House, the Senate and soon the Supreme Court, which means that the Trump administration will face little to no resistance when passing environmentally destructive legislation. According to Grist.org “In total, these climate-denying congresspeople have received more than $73 million in contributions from oil, gas, and coal companies over the course of their careers.” It’s depressing to think that our politicians are willing to prioritize short term economic gains and corporate interest over the well being of our entire world.
Trump’s stances in regards to the environment are absolutely terrifying and I, for one, am afraid of what our future will look like in Trump’s America. The only thing that gives me even a slight glimmer of hope is the power of the people. Climate change is not a partisan issue; it affects each and everyone of us, regardless of our socioeconomic status. The struggle to recognize climate change is a moral crusade and that is why we must fight– if not for ourselves, then for our children and grandchildren. We must fight to have our voices heard every time Trump and the Republicans in congress and the supreme court try to backtrack from the Paris Agreement or pass legislation that ignores the very real consequences of climate change. We the people must demand that the politicians in Washington create policies that reflect the opinions and concerns of the majority of Americans not those that favor corporate interest.
If at this point if you are wondering “what can I do to stop this” then I urge you to support, either by volunteering for or donating to, organizations like Greenpeace and The National Resources Defense council that will continue to fight for our Earth.