Climate Change: America loses its cool


Alara Dasdan

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, Fridays for Future and the Global Climate Strike involved teenage activists worldwide demanding urgent climate action from world leaders.

Rachel Wu, Design Editor

America has long been viewed as an economic powerhouse, a symbol of prosperity and opportunity. But in an era when environmental conservation laws are repealed and the U.S. pulls out of environmental committees, America increasingly finds itself taking steps back regarding climate change. In light of this, America should work to remedy this issue, rather than persistently turning a blind eye on worldwide concern over climate change. 

With more than 97 percent of actively-publishing climate scientists convinced that the climate has been warming over the past century, it is becoming more imperative to take action. 

According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1880, with nine out of ten of the warmest years on record having occurred since 2005. According to NASA, these increasing temperatures will have devastating results such as greater droughts, stronger hurricanes, rising sea levels and increasing wildfires. 

In light of this alarming reality, the Global Climate Strike from Sept. 20-27, which consisted of international strikes and protests demanding climate action, was reported to have more than 7.6 million participants, more than 500,000 of whom were in the U.S., and is considered to be the largest climate protest in world history. This instance, along with many other climate strikes, expresses the overwhelming call for action and indicates the need to address this issue. 

“If you do a simple search on Google for statistics on how our climate is developing with the modern society, it’s clear to see that our global emissions are reaching a tipping point, where if we don’t do something about how we live our life right now, in terms of sustainability, there’s going to be a point where we can’t backtrack into a place where it’s safe to live,” said senior Amanda Zhu, who took part in the strike in Silicon Valley. 

Leading the climate change movement in recent months, teenage activist Greta Thunberg made headlines when she expressed her disappointment in world leaders in her Sept. 23 speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit. Around a year before, at just 15 years old, Thunberg started the “Fridays for Future” movement to raise awareness about world leaders’ inaction regarding climate change. Thunberg began this movement by demonstrating outside the Swedish parliament every school day for three weeks holding a sign that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (“School strike for the climate”). Her protests gained momentum and eventually inspired the Global Climate Strike. 

In response to Thunberg’s passionate call for action, U.S. president Donald Trump sarcastically posted on Twitter that Thunberg “seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future,” completely disregarding her powerful speech to the U.N. His irreverence of Thunberg’s serious message and the consequences of ignoring climate change display his disrespect and willful ignorance towards the issue. 

Moreover, on Nov. 3, the Trump administration started the official process of pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. The agreement, having nearly 200 countries involved,  aims to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” As the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the only nation to abandon the global effort to combat climate change, America’s withdrawal from the agreement sends out a powerful signal of its neglect toward the urgency to fight against global warming. 

“I think that we are abdicating a leadership role in [the discussion of climate change],” said history teacher Mike Williams. “We are the number one economy on the face of the planet and the science is there. We are announcing to the world that [climate change] is not an issue when it is. In our ability to shape that argument to our benefit, as well as the world’s benefit, we are deciding through this President’s policies to just throw our hands in the air and abdicate that power, and we do so in a way that is counter to the overwhelming evidence that this is going on. We are choosing to not have a leadership role in shaping that policy and kind of laughing in the face of received knowledge about science.”  

The reality we are facing is happening, not in the near future, but the here and now; a reality that we must not turn our backs on.

Trump’s ridicule of Thunberg’s address to the U.N. and his formal statement of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement is unacceptable; Trump has taken a step backward with regards to climate change, and has shown clear ignorance toward Earth’s future. If not because of the existing science proving climate change’s devastating effects, the widespread support of action to combat climate change — as evidenced with the recent Global Climate Strike — would likely not exist. Regardless of whether he agrees with climate change or not, Trump should, especially as a prominent world leader, address this issue with the seriousness it deserves.