Saturday, February 24, 2018

Climate change: our nation’s most recent hot topic

MAX FURIGAY ’19
COLUMNIST

In a year, as the overwhelming deluge of political coverage constantly reminds us, Americans will choose a new president. While the rhetoric of both parties remains largely the same as it always has, with very few concessions to the other side on any issue, there is really only one particular topic that I think is by far and away the most important to consider next November: the environment. While I think that the Republicans have solid, well-thought out positions regarding most of their platform, the average Republican’s stance on this issue is abominable, misinformed, and dangerous; and until this climate of denial changes, voting for any of them seems, to me, laughable.

Yes, tax cuts and welfare seem like they are important, and they do effect many people in America. Hot political topics like abortion and marijuana constantly crop up in the news, and it seems almost impossible to talk about politics without, eventually, landing on foreign policy. But none of these issues even come close to how serious our environmental choices are.
Global warming is a problem that impacts literally every single person on the Earth. The sea levels are rising, we have deforested more than half of the world’s forests–are on track to finish off the remainder soon, and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are increasing exponentially. Droughts and wildfires are becoming increasingly widespread, and we have had record-high average temperatures during 13 of the last 15 years. Many scientists already warn that it will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to reverse the damage we have done to our planet. We are in the midst of the greatest mass extinction of human existence, and during our lives, Earth is going to drastically change for the worse.

In thirty years, I will not give a damn about how high welfare was or whether or not I can legally smoke pot. It won’t even matter to me as much if Iraq was invaded for the twelfth time or if conservatives constitutionally ban abortion. In thirty years, the most significant question will be, “Did we reduce the Earth to a barren rock or not?”

The Republicans are idiots regarding climate change. It baffles me how shortsighted and egocentric they are. Republicans fight environmental regulation at any chance they get, claiming it will harm businesses or cost too much to the taxpayer. Many even deny the existence of climate change. The Republicans are the problem: they have shifted the discourse from “What can we do to fix this enormous problem?” to, “Does this problem even exist?”

Humanity is going to ruin literally our entire world, and the Republicans have stuck their heads so far into the sand that absolutely nothing can get done. It shocks and horrifies me that only 54 percent of Republicans even “believe” in climate change. Climate change is not a “belief!” How much hotter does the planet need to get before Ted Cruz is disabused of the notion that scientists “falsify climate change facts,” or Marco Rubio decides that he was an idiot for thinking that “humans do not cause these dramatic changes in our climate?”

I would rather have a president that wants to protect the planet for me and my descendants than anything else. Many other “worst case scenarios” like Iran getting a nuclear weapon, or the United States defaulting on its debt, or even ISIS taking over the world: none of these scenarios come close to global human extinction. This is not hyperbole. This is what will happen in the very close future if something does not change.

The United States, per capita, is responsible for most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to deforestation more than any other country in the world. More than that, we are a leader and set an example for other nations: what we enact, others may strive to emulate. Our past record on the environment has been inconsistent at best, and this is why we need to have a Democratic President, as well as Congress, courts, and, in my opinion, every elected official.

So remember, next year, the issue that’s really important, because it’s not Second Amendment rights, abortion, or healthcare. None of these issues come close to affecting as many people as climate change does. Vote Democratic for the sake of the environment. They’re not perfect, but they’ll treat the environment a hell of a lot better than the Republicans.

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