Climate change: a credible threat to national security, or a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese? Unfortunately, the Trump administration- and frankly, the Republican party as a whole- seem to believe the latter.
Despite what climate deniers claim, global temperatures are rising and its consequences are becoming more severe every year. Even small changes to the global climate can result in devastating consequences. For every degree Celsius the global temperature rises, the area burned by wildfire in the western U.S. increases 200-400 percent, and the production of crops declines 5-15 percent. An increase of three degrees could displace hundreds of thousands of people who live on the coast.
The Paris agreement was absolutely a step in the right direction; however, it should not be sugarcoated. The goals it initially set would have a marginal effect on global warming, only slowing the rise in global temperatures by about 0.2 degrees Celsius over the next 100 years. While the Paris agreement isn’t enough to mitigate all but the mildest effects of climate change, that doesn’t make the agreement worthless: Having nearly all countries in the world (including China and India) sign on to agree to take small steps to slow climate change would set the stage for stricter agreements with more ambitious goals.
The opposition to the Paris agreement is largely fueled by concerns about the economy. Most opponents of the deal point to a study by NERA Consulting that warned the Paris agreement would destroy 6.5 million U.S. jobs and cost the U.S. nearly $3 trillion. The study, however, assumed that no other countries would follow the Paris agreement and that there would be no increase in the production of clean energy. (Obviously, jobs in clean energy would replace the jobs lost in coal.)
Furthermore, pulling out of the Paris agreement is a blow to the U.S. economy in the long run. As nonrenewable energy sources dwindle, the world will be forced to shift towards clean energy. The U.S. could have seized the opportunity to be at the forefront of the expanding clean energy industry; now that we’ve pulled out of the agreement, that opportunity will go to China.
President Trump’s administration has been taking heat for its decision to pull out of the Paris agreement- and fittingly, if our planet takes any more heat, we’ll be on the brink of a global catastrophe.