The U.S. Needs to Change to Help Climate Change

Bob Deans, Director of Strategic Engagement, Natural Resources Defense Council, raised a point while talking to the Washington Center that resonated with me and helped me to further understand why climate change is of the utmost importance, regardless of party alignment. He claimed that the Paris agreement was a major step in the right direction for global diplomacy, so what does it say about our nation that President Trump, on behalf of us chose to withdraw from the agreement? Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement truly does send a message to the rest of the world that the United States is not concerned with the impact that our carbon emissions’ have. If the United States hopes to continue to be respected on the national stage, this is an issue that must be addressed right now.

Although many of the issues in the American political arena today are of great importance and deserves attention climate change must be addressed immediately. I am personally, a strong believer in the fact that the individual truly can play a major role in impacting the future of climate change by simply being better informed of the ways that their everyday decisions impact people in other countries. In the United States, we are blessed with the privilege to not endure daily the terrible effects of climate change, such as increased natural disasters, and beach erosion that some nations are being devastated by continuously. The irony behind the situation though is that the United States does not have to be impacted by climate change as visibly, but we, as a nation, are amongst the largest contributors to the carbon emissions that have caused climate change to proliferate to the major threat it is today. An article reflecting on the impact that President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris agreement stressed the difficulty that grassroots environmental movements in the United States have because of the large reach and impact that coal companies have on the American political system. Essentially though, efforts on the state and local level to pledge to reduce carbon emission, or even just generally better inform individuals of little changes that can make such a large difference is the most hopeful pathway movie forward.

On a federal level, having such an important stake in the effects on climate change leaves the United States in a unique position to serve as a global leader. Unfortunately, though, after President Trump announced in 2017 that our nation would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the United States essentially is sending a message to the rest of the world that we are not concerned with the effects of climate change. This sets an extremely poor example to other nations and puts us back great levels if future administrations would choose to re-enter the agreement. A Washington Post article also offered some interesting perspective on the issue. It raises the point that in the future, developing nations will be contributing some of the largest amounts of fossil fuels. As their economies and populations are growing, there will be an increased demand for energy, which could come from clean energy. Although, with the United States setting a poor example of noncooperation, and continued use of fossil fuels, these nations will be more likely to follow in this direction of noncooperation, further perpetuating the problem.

Essentially, it comes down to the fact that America is missing a golden opportunity to take leadership and initiative on the issue of climate change. This is a problem that proliferates and every day that we exclude the conversation from the agenda, a developing nation that directly experiences the effects of climate change is negatively impacted. Climate change truly needs to become one of the top priorities of policymakers moving forward, and the Paris agreement truly is such an amazing example of global diplomacy that our nation is missing out on.

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