Climate Action Trumps Trump
President Donald Trump continues to deny the realities of man-made climate change, even in the face of warnings by his own administration that it will impose massive costs on the US. Fortunately, in the absence of federal leadership, businesses, citizens, and state and local governments are taking action on an unprecedented scale.
BERKELEY – Now is not a good time to be a climate-change denier like US President Donald Trump, given all the recent evidence that the atmosphere is warming faster than expected. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, for example, Trump’s own government published a major report warning that unchecked climate change will impose massive economic and human costs on the United States. And that came on the heels of an alarming study by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that painted a dire picture of Earth’s near future.
The IPCC finds that if greenhouse-gas emissions continue at current rates, the additional costs due to coastal flooding, droughts, storms, extreme heat, and wildfires will reach an estimated $54 trillion by 2040. Shockingly, the world has only about a dozen years to keep global temperatures within 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Beyond that limit, even small temperature increases will raise the risk of catastrophic events, threatening millions with poverty and displacement.
For his part, Trump refuses to believe his own administration’s assessment that climate change is man-made and poses an existential threat. He has unilaterally withdrawn the US from the Paris climate agreement, leaving the country standing completely alone on the issue (though Brazil under incoming far-right President Jair Bolsonaro could follow suit). And he has dismantled environmental regulations and strengthened subsidies to boost the US fossil-fuel industry.