Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, was a day of unprecedented proportions, as the citizens of the United States honored the election of President Donald J. Trump. In the early hours of this monumental event, Trump rose to the challenge of addressing the various exigencies associated with his new position by meeting the rhetorical situation of climate change with that of a stern, closed fist. This fact is exemplified in such acts as his decision to appoint the director of the Center of Energy and Environment, Myron Ebell, as the chair of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in an attempt to completely dismantle the organization. Considering that Ebell is arguably the greatest advocate against climate change, having made such comments as, “I would like to have more funding so that I can combat the nonsense put out by the environmental movements,” it comes as no surprise that experts from various fields have met the proposal with immense opposition. This course of action illustrates how poorly the United States of America as a whole is approaching the complex nature of climate change. First and foremost, this blatant demonstration of pandering to the politically correct highlights a major dilemma surrounding this matter, which is that of separating an environmental concern from the political arena. When considering that the topic of climate change is a major determinant in whether or not voters choose Republican or Democrat during the elections, Trump’s recently displayed agenda could be viewed as a mere attempt to appeal to his Republican audience. However, the problem is that the condition of our atmosphere is a topic that has no pertinent bearing in whether or not someone choices to vote red or one, but rather a very perilous challenge facing humanity that has to do with how we handle carbon emissions and their effects on our environment. The United States of America as a whole needs to adopt a more viable approach of addressing the issue of climate change. More specifically, we as a people need to foster a new model that separates politics from environmental concerns, creates for a new market which will impose taxes on big corporations, and that will move towards making everything electric.
In response to the president’s recent conduct in matters pertaining to climate change, Senator Bernie Sander’s of the Democratic party responded by commenting, “What astounds me and I hope this changes very quickly is we now have a president-elect who actually doesn’t believe that climate change is real. I worry very much for what this means for and our grandchildren, and the future of this planet. And million of people are going to have to tell him, Mr. Trump: You’re dead wrong.” Essentially, this transparent example of tension across party lines creates for two accurate depictions. The first, and most evident, is that having a presidential candidate who does not regard atmospheric conditions, is a terrifying notion; one that unfortunately is being displayed on a global level after Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement formed by the United Nations regarding this very issue. Moreover, it serves to depict the greater complication surrounding climate change, which is that we as a people need to transcend to a point where we stop focusing on the contact zone created by politics, to a place where we stop viewing this as a subject of winning over red and blue states, but rather for the problem that it actually is, which is one pertaining to our livelihood, as it deals with the state of where we reside in this universe; our home. However, in order for this to happen, we as a society must be willing to be open minded, and willing to consider various perspectives with our natural habitat in mind, so we can move past discussion and begin implementing innovative resolutions.
In the second chapter of her book, “Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique,” Vanesa Castan Broto, elaborates on this complicated matter as she notes, “Achieving climate compatible development requires something other than simply incorporating climate information into current development processes…The question of what to do in the context of climate change is complicated by the fact that different actors may hold different views about the specific nature of the challenge and how to act upon it.” Essentially, this observation made by Broto further reiterates the fact that there is another level, in essence, to addressing the issue that is climate change, which is creating for some sense of unison amongst, the actors as she call’s them, who are capable of implementing change, both on a national and global level. Additionally, Broto’s findings are of further value, in that they provide an outsider’s perspective on that matter, and thus challenging people living here in the United States, or other countries throughout the world to consider their own perspective on this serious matter, as opposed to their own, considerably ethnocentric beliefs. Beyond that, her work serves as a demonstration of how this issue is one that effects individuals all over the globe. That being said, Broto postulates a solution for this delicate situation, by asserting that, “Incorporating climate change information into participatory planning requires focusing on sharing climate change information, rather than exploring its detail; requiring schematically synthesized two step process that includes, the compilation of key sources of knowledge, and using the sources to define risks and vulnerability in relation to the intervention’s objection.” In short, her suggestion is one that promotes larger level communication between the individuals involved, in order to bridge any gaps, by sharing relative information, at which point, what she defines as, participatory planning, can take place in order to put working solutions into action. Although Broto’s work provides an ample pedagogy for handling the problem of separating environmental concerns from those that are unrelated, it serves only as a stepping stone towards answering the real context of the problem, which is that of dealing with carbon emissions, and how to replace them in the most cost effective way.
In Idean Salehyan’s scholarly article entitled, “From Climate Change to Conflict,” through the Journal of Peace Research, Salehyan comments, “The argument about the connection between climate change and conflict boils down to an argument about resource scarcity and competition over the means to sustain livelihoods.” In just twenty-six carefully chosen words, Salehyan has so brilliantly captured the very essence this complex problem; it is one that ostensibly stems from figuring out how to replace resources that rely on fossil fuels, which are extremely scarce, not just in our society, but, on a global level as well. However, a matter that causes further tension in this regard is that of finding a solution that provides some sense of pecuniary gain through said replacement in the process. The generally more accepted answer to this predicament has been prolifically illustrated in Bill Nye the Science Guy’s forty-five minute documentary through the National Geographic entitled Global Meltdown. According to Nye, the most definitive way to handle this particular quandary begins by creating a new market, in which large corporations are taxed on the amount of carbon emissions that they generate; greater taxes should be imposed on those that create in excess, and less would be taken from those that reduce their carbon emission levels. From there, he argues that just as we have progressed through creative faculties from a industrial society to one that is more technologically based, that it is now time for us to answer the problem of how to replace carbon emissions by transitioning into a society that is for the most part, entirely run off of electric energy, a notion that is broadly accepted to a varying degree, and is echoed in the words of senator Sanders, who has noted,” And we are going to have to change our energy system.”
In her scholarly article entitled, “The Port Radium Paradigm; or, Fukushima in a Changing Climate,” as found in the book,”Risk Criticism: Precautionary Reading in an Age of Environmental Uncertainty,” published by the University of Michigan Press, Molly Wallace argues that, “the issues surrounding global warming are like the bomb (the atomic bomb Little Boy which destroyed Fukushima) for this bomb ends up being the central notion to the end of the world as we inhabit it.”Wallace’s words speak volumes as to how very pertinent an issue this is, especially when considering that specialists in the fields such as Nye project that we will experience dire consequences such as the flooding of mainlands within the next twenty years if we choose to do otherwise. It is for this reason that we as a people, both here in the United States, and abroad, must accept the challenge presented to us with this call to action. That call to action however, begins with addressing the stark juxtaposition between our current stance, and the solutions which have been presented and argued, at which point we can begin to seriously implement changes in our current energy model. Ostensibly, this is a matter pertaining to the availability of resources, but, if we are wrong, and the consequence of failure results in the overall longevity of our very place in the universe, then what good do any of those resources do us? There is a Native American proverb that speaks of counting your resources while holding your breath, and it is one that is ought for consideration at a time when the issue of our environment is of such precedence. This is our only home, and some science fiction romanticized fantasy in which we seek refuge on another planet or in space is not a realistic answer for neglecting to take care of our own place of origin.