Thomas’s Take: Green, Clean, or the Coal Machine

By: Thomas Nedungadan ’18

Millions of years ago, all the dinosaurs were wiped out by a cataclysmic meteorite. The fractures caused by the meteorite, combined with the ash cloud in the air from constant volcanic activity, destroyed Earth’s mightiest creatures in a matter of days. Today, we’re more likely to die not from a meteorite, but go down in a blaze of carbon dioxide.

Global Warming. It exists, and nothing is being done to stop it. As someone who loves the environment, I’m frankly a little shocked with the attitude towards climate change in the U.S.

The Bush-era represented a time when the US decided to prematurely exit the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce CO2 emissions in the forthcoming years. President Bush, against all logic, decided to pull the US out of the deal, which led to the ultimate collapse of the treaty.

In 2014, President Barack Obama reached a historic agreement with China’s Xi Jinping on a monumental new era for environmentalists everywhere. Obama promised to cut emissions by 26-28% by 2025 in comparison to 2005 levels, and Xi Jinping promised to peak emissions in China by 2030, and increase renewable energy in China to 20% of the total. For the first time in history, the #1 and #2 emitters decided on a framework for change.

I thought for the longest time that my dream for a green America would come to fruition. But alas, I was immediately let down. As it turns out; our current president isn’t as green friendly as one would think. One of the main pillars of his victory is attributed to the droves of coal workers who decided to support their pro-coal candidate. And while that might be a feasible strategy for an easy few votes, it’s not the most effective route for the human race.

You see, while the president may love coal, I think I’d value my life quite a bit more. Currently, scientists predict a 2.5-10 degree increase in temperature over the next decade, enough to melt the already fading polar ice caps, and cause massive flooding across the world. Just ask the people in Venice, Hawaii, or even Australia. I recently learned that as of today, large chunks of the Great Barrier Reef are now dead. A natural marvel, depleted forever.

The U.S. seriously needs to get its act together. Climate Change is a big problem now, and it’s only going to get worse. Political action in the international community relies on big emitters to step up, and when they don’t, others also fail to deliver. For example, over 55% of the world’s worst litterers and polluters were present for the Paris Climate Accords, a series of reforms to lower global temperatures by a certain year.

But once again, my expectations reached a new low. Like a never before seen low… As of 2017, the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, in what was supposedly one of the president’s “smartest” decisions. However, there are unimaginable repercussions to doing this. Trump also decided to complement this brilliant action by signing more pro-oil legislature, promoting less transparency for big corporations, all at the expense of our Ozone layer.

As a first world country, we take things for granted like wealth, quality of life, and food. But if there’s one thing that should be universally revered around the globe, it’s our mother Earth. To place the corporations that line the NYSE over the Earth that provides and nurtures us goes beyond my understanding.

Thankfully, America’s corporations, at least some of them, are doing something to counteract the presidential disaster. Companies like Nestle, General Mills, and others are among an elite few who will continue to fight for the environment, and stand up to the president’s orders. And for my two cents, I’m a little stumped.

On one end, we have a president who realizes there’s climate change, but willfully ignores it, and promotes the most coal consuming plan in history. And while coal supplied the US loyally for many decades, we live in an era filled with solar energy, wind energy, and the cleaner, more economical natural gas.

And then there’s the other side, where large amounts of environmental groups and corporations alike bond over a common threat, fund new climate programs, and start spreading the news to stop this threat once and for all.

America seems to have remained relatively stagnant when it comes to climate change, but I wholeheartedly hope we change this in the future. Sure Trump runs the country, but he can’t control the individual. As Americans, we have a civic duty to help our environment, and we can start right at home. And while the White House may be drowning in political chaos, there’s still a glimmer of hope that things will be alright. In the end, Americans need to choose: the green, the clean, or the black coal machine.

*These opinions are not affiliated with the administration of Bellarmine College Preparatory in any way.

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