The Donald says au revoir to Paris

Image: Wikimedia commons

Image: Wikimedia commons

IF MOTHER Nature were given a vote in the recent Presidential Election, she might have tipped the scale a bit. Presumably she’d be worthy of a hearty portion of the electoral vote. Unfortunately for her, in a short few months, behind a big desk where world-changing decisions are made will sit a man who believes that climate change is a fairy tale. Trump has plans to dismantle Obama’s “money wasting” efforts of tackling the very not-fictitious problem of climate change. However, he’ll have to hurdle a hostile congress to get his legislation through. Obama developed the “Clean Power Plan” policy to cut carbon pollution and expand the clean economy.

Obama took a leading role in the Paris Agreement – a long term plan to reduce global emissions with the intention of keeping the global temperature rise within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels. Trump prioritises the US over the future of our planet – his 100 day action plan states, “we’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan.” What’s worse is Trump’s plan to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement: this could have a domino effect on other reluctant governments, like Poland and India, slowing down global environmental efforts.

Also on Trump’s itinerary is to reclaim all of the tax dollars currently being “wasted” on UN global warming programs. All this extra cash in his pocket will be perfect for his “fossil fuel revolution”. Taking a positive all – energy approach, he will use federal land on which Obama has fortified the expansion of renewable energy projects to create even more jobs by exploring and producing oil, gas and coal. So, what is climate change?

The Earth’s energy is a balance between the reflection and absorption of incoming solar energy. Shifts in the balance are normal due to solar energy variations, changes in the reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere and surface,and the fluctuations of the greenhouse effect. All of these affect the retention of heat in the atmosphere. The significant warming since the mid-20th century can’t be explained by natural causes.

Mankind’s impact on our planet has been to generate an accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. This has tipped the fine balance between reflection and absorption of solar energy, leading to climate change. Records have shown that the global surface temperature has risen since 1880, with the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Oceans have also absorbed the extra heat and are 0.304°F warmer than in 1969. In the three years between 2002 and 2005, Antarctica lost an estimated 152 cubic kilometres of ice, thought to be contributing to rising sea levels. These changes, left unchecked, could be dire for our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that if emissions remain as they are for only five more years, there will be a 1.5°C increase of global warming. Scientists consider this to be the tipping point which could see the environment take an irreversible plunge.

Top climate economist Lord Stern recently stated that if we are to stay under 2°C of warming, we must transition to a zero-carbon economy before the end of the century. Failure to do so would create a climate that human civilisation has never experienced and weather patterns that would ensure mass extinctions. To put it bluntly, it’s a catastrophic outlook. Now is not the time to put the brakes on addressing climate change.

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