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Climate change under President Trump

Why scientists are getting political

Climate change under President Trump

Solar panels are, arguably, old news. The eco-friendly technology has been around for decades now, since Russell Ohl successfully created the first silicon cell in 1941. Thirteen years later, the first full solar panel was invented by three American researchers. Since then, they’ve been marketed to the public as a cost effective way to do one’s part in helping protect the environment.

The green technology made it all the way to the roof of the White House when in 1979, President Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels installed. He intended them to stay there and harvest usable solar energy for decades to come, but in 1986, President Ronald Reagan had the panels removed. However, years later, President George Bush installed the first active solar electric system at the White House. Then in 2010, President Barack Obama had new panels installed atop the roof.

Will the panels remain? It may seem futile to take them down again because they work efficiently and are nearly invisible, not interfering with the White House’s historic aesthetic. However, in this new administration, we have heard the message time and again that environmental protection is far from a priority. In regard to President Trump and all of the environmental policy changes that he will do his best to make, the White House solar panels represent something much greater than just providing clean energy to the Oval Office. President Trump’s attitude towards climate change and clean energy will undoubtedly have profound consequences for our environment.

The time has run out for the question of climate change to be an argument having two sides, both worthy of consideration. Science is not, and should not, be a matter of politics. And yet, because powerful politicians and talking heads continue to deny the existence of climate change or that human beings are causing it, science has become politicized.

Professor Michael Mann, one of the world’s leading climatologists, has called Donald Trump’s views on climate change an “assault on science”. Mann is encouraging fellow scientists to rebel and march in protest against the administration. Scientists marching is highly unusual, but the circumstances have become dire.

In 2012, President Trump equated global warming to a Chinese hoax. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency transition team, Myron Ebell, has said that the president is determined to reverse policies put in place by Barack Obama to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Ebell, along with President Trump, is a long-time climate change skeptic.

President Trump has stated that “nobody really knows” whether climate change actually exists. He is now the head of a party with plenty of climate change deniers. Though there is now, more than ever, no room for argument on this topic, climate change skeptics are being given a platform and voice that they should not have. Because of these loud voices, the issue of climate change will take the back burner, because we know that it is not an issue worth the time and energy to consider, according to this administration.

As the science of climate change becomes only more and more conclusive, Professor Mann is right in his call for a rebellion. He states in his article, “Rejection of the unequivocal scientific evidence that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are warming the planet and changing our climate is no longer socially acceptable,”.

The March for Science will take place on April 22, Earth Day, in Washington D.C. The march’s mission statement is grounded in certitude, with no flowery language or persuasion, beginning with “There are certain things that we accept as facts … The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution”. Although policy changes are providing scientists ample reason to worry, I take comfort in the coming together of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in support of science and environmental protection.

It feels wrong, against the nature of science itself, to have to march for something that is proven to be factual. Yet here we are, our voices being squashed out because this issue is not a convenient one. The results will not be immediate, and yes, there will be a price tag. Science and politics were never meant to compete with one another, but the truth is that climate change has not ever been a partisan issue, despite what it may seem.

It is through and through an issue of fact, and the time for debating that is long over. Solar panels may be old news, but our environment continues to be threatened. We cannot allow these issues to slip to the back of our minds because our new administration refutes the concrete, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence of climate change.

orichter@theeagleonline.com


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