Climate Change and The Trump Administration
"Climate Change - a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular, a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels."
Our Earth's climate is ever changing. With seven scientifically documented cycles of glacial advance and retreat, the last of those occurring 7000 years ago, causing what is now our modern climate era. Most climate changes are due to variances in the planet's orbit that cause solar energy reaching Earth to fluctuate.
The warming trend we are currently seeing is significant because it is most likely human-caused and is growing at an alarming rate for the past 1300 years.Satellites and advances in technology have allowed scientists to see the larger scope of the changes while collecting different data about our planet and climate on a global level. The set of data collected over many years shows signs of a change in climate.
During the mid-19th century, scientists were able to demonstrate the heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and various other gases. The gases ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the basis of many instruments used by NASA. This leaves no question that increased greenhouse gases cause Earth to warm in response.
Ice cores which were extracted and sampled in Greenland, Antarctica, and various tropical mountain glaciers, all show the planet's climate responds to changes according to levels of greenhouse gases. Paleoclimate evidence is also found in ocean sediment, tree rings, coral reefs, and different layers of sedimentary rock. It also reveals that current warming is happening at a rate nearly ten times faster than during the ice-age recovery.
Sea Level Rise
Sea levels rose on a global scale, nearly 17 centimeters in the last century. However, during the last decade, the rate of sea level rise is almost double that of the entire last century.
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Global Temperature Rise
Scientific models show Earth has been warming since 1880, with the past 35 years being the biggest growth period. Since 2001, we have had 15 of the 16 record warm years. 2015 saw global temperatures 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average, for the first time. Even with a decline in solar output in the 2000s, surface temperatures did not stop their increase.
With global temperatures increasing, the oceans have absorbed much of the heat. The top 2,300 feet showed warming of 0.30 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
Shrinking Ice Sheets
Between 2002 and 2005, NASA conducted experiments in Greenland and Antarctica to show how much mass had been lost to climate change. Both locations averaged a 151 cubic kilometer loss.
Declining Sea Ice
The last several decades has shown a rapid decline in both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice.
In the Alps, the Himalayas, Rockies, Andes, Africa, and Alaska, glaciers are retreating.
Extreme Weather Events
We have seen record-high temperatures in the U.S. increase, while the record-lows have decreased since 1950. Other extreme weather events have included record numbers of tornadoes, more powerful, larger hurricanes, intense rainfall, and drought.
Ocean waters surface acidity has increased by about 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution began. The increase being the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. With the gas in the atmosphere, it is then absorbed by our oceans. Each year, the amount of carbon dioxide in the upper layer of Earth's oceans increases by close to 2 billion tons.
Climate Change and You
Do you believe climate change is an issue we should focus on?
An Administration Standing in Opposition to Climate Change Control
Over many years of in-depth research and studies, the collected data clearly shows compelling evidence that climate change is a rapidly growing, serious problem facing not only the United States but the entire planet. Scientists have concluded that climate change will indeed affect us all.
In a now infamous 2012 tweet, our President, Donald Trump announced to the world that global warming was a concoction brought forth by the Chinese. Supposedly to make U.S. manufacturing nonviable and noncompetitive. That single tweet was mentioned during the confirmation hearings of Trump's nominees for Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of the Environment Protection Agency.
Before being elected, Donald Trump said, more than once, that he wanted to reduce the reach of the EPA until only small parts of it remained. However, let's stop for a second and consider what he actually can do. First, we need to take a look at what President Obama did during his terms. The Obama administration benefited from the growing use of shale-produced natural gas. That natural gas superseded and replaced much of the coal we use. It is also a major factor for lower readings of carbon dioxide, which is the main greenhouse gas, during his terms. It was not magical, there was no wand or spell, it happened over time, and the changes he implemented in accordance with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, and the Paris Agreement.
On the same token, President Trump has no magic wand or spells, either. He cannot order miners to go back into the mines, many of those jobs are rapidly becoming automated. It does not matter what any one person says; we are moving away from coal as a fuel source. There are things he can do which will set us back, and in the long run, create larger problems.
As President Trump readies to visit the Environmental Protection Agency to sign into effect an executive order, one that will set into motion a review of the Clean Power Plan, it will effectively undo other energy orders and memorandums put into place by President Obama.
The Clean Power Plan places a cap on the total greenhouse gases power plants can emit. The White House's argues the regulation, among others, place an undue burden on the American economy.
In an interview with ABC News, a senior Trump administration official said, "The president's been very clear, he's not going to pursue climate or environmental policies that put the American economy at risk." When asked if climate change poses any long-term threat of its own to the economy, the official replied that he did not know of research drawing that conclusion.
When President Obama signed the Clean Power Plan in 2015, he said it was the most important step toward combatting climate change. That law, however, isn't being enforced. In February 2016, the United States Supreme Court ordered a stay pending judicial review.
Leading attorney generals from 28 states, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt claimed the plan was too wide of an interpretation of the Clean Air Act of 1963, which was designed to regulate air pollution across the nation.
With relaxed power plant emission limits, one group will benefit more than any other - coal miners. This executive order will rollback an Obama-era moratorium on coal and demand a review of the regulations which affect methane
Where does all of this leave the American people? The answer is - right now, no one knows. We are all stuck in a sort of political and environmental limbo. The data is there, the studies have been done and continue, yet here we find ourselves turning back the pages instead of moving forward. All we can do is our part. Lessen our footprint and try to make it through as unscathed as possible.
© 2017 Sherrie Weynand