The environment should not be a partisan issue

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Illustration by Chloe Kendall

Again? Again.

Against reason, America keeps trying to move backwards.

There’s a lot to unpack out of Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, from the current administration’s continuous removal of America as a world leader and team player to the disappointing influence of climate change deniers in government. Two big takeaways for me were how much this decision was already sadly reflected in Trump (and his cabinet) and how the environment is somehow consistently a partisan issue.

Not surprising, but still disappointing.

As the snake said, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.” I doubt Trump’s decision last Thursday shocked anyone. This is, after all, the same man who nominated a self-described enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency as the new head of the EPA. This is, after all, the same man who called climate change a hoax during the campaign leading to his 2016 election. This is, after all, the same man who seems more interested in oil and coal-based energy than clean, renewable energy. Donald Trump and his cabinet don’t seem to care about the environment, so it’s not really that surprising. It is, however, incredibly infuriating to see him and his cabinet not care about an issue that is scientific consensus.  

Why is this a partisan issue?

It frustrates me as an American and global citizen to see people enabling Trump to make this decision. When asked about Trump’s decision on Fox and Friends, Vice President Mike Pence said, “For some reason or another, this issue of climate change has emerged as a paramount issue for the left.”

Statements like this are incredibly disheartening. The issues of climate change, the environment, and clean air and water for everyone are continuously painted as nothing more than partisan talking points.

This should not be the case. President Richard Nixon, a Republican, recognized the American people’s interest in environmental policy and established the EPA. Today, however, the Republican Party does not even recognize this.

One of the reasons for this change? As always, follow the money. Twenty-two Republican senators wrote to Trump to encourage him to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement. What do they have in common? They have all received considerable donations from oil, gas, and coal companies during their elections. These donations from over several election cycles not only include $1,542,084 to Mitch McConnell and $2,569,810 to Ted Cruz, but also $529,550 for infamous climate change denier James Inhofe.

Once again, money reigns supreme in partisan politics. This is a travesty. As the Paris Climate Agreement proves, climate change and the environment are not simply political issues, but legitimate, scientifically proven global issues that we need to work together to solve.

So what can we do about it?

Just because Trump announced the U.S. will leave the Paris Climate Agreement doesn’t mean everything is lost. The BBC reported that outcry over Trump’s exit decision “just might concentrate other countries’ efforts in the pursuit of the targets laid down in Paris.”

Furthermore, America can still work to follow the Paris Climate Agreement. Many American mayors and governors have vowed to follow the terms of the agreement in their cities and states. This includes officials from California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and even the city of Anchorage, Alaska.

Now more than ever, call your representatives. This includes your representatives, senators, and governor. In the case of Oregon, this also includes Mayor Ted Wheeler, who recently proposed an amendment for Portland to follow the terms of agreement. For me it will include calling Alaskan mayors, the governors, and representatives. Additionally, don’t forget to get your friends and families to call too. We need to keep them accountable. I also want to recommend looking into supporting your local conservation society and organizations that work to get money out of politics.

Finally, I want to use this platform to urge Gov. Brown, Sen. Sullivan, Sen. Murkowski, Rep. Don Young, Mayor Ted Wheeler, and many more: I ask you as a concerned citizen to protect funding for climate change, environmental protection, and to help work toward following the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate change is a legitimate concern for many American citizens, and the climate and environment are so much more than partisan topics.

Links:

To help support the fight against climate change and protect environmental resources, please consider donating to the following:

The Sierra Club: http://sierraclub.org

The National Resource Defense Council: https://www.nrdc.org

The Wilderness Society: http://wilderness.org

To look into how you can help get money out of politics:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/11/21/8-ways-get-money-politics/

 

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