While Trump celebrates, our planet continues to warm

People listen to speeches during a protest demanding European Union leaders to honour their commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global warming to 1.5°C (34,7°F), outside the European Parliament in Brussels, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. The board reads in French: "Climate refugees 2050?" (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Last week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a horrifying update on the direction our planet is headed due to climate change. While the number of people realizing climate change is a real issue continues to grow each day, I don’t think anyone expected the report to show such frightening results. According to the study, even the agreements made at the Paris Accords in 2015 that aimed to reduce greenhouse gases will not be enough to stop the catastrophic effects caused by the rising temperatures.

If we all remember correctly, Trump has decided to end the United States’ agreement to uphold the Paris Accords. While this seemed like a devastating mistake before, the amount of damage felt by it just increased tenfold with the results from this report. Originally, the Paris Accords was attempting to keep the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, however scientists are now explaining that even a rise in temperature of this seemingly small number could still cause huge changes to our way of life. Now, with the US removed from the regulations, we can expect the temperature to rise more than 1.5 degrees, causing even worse results than what was originally expected.

Still, on the tail of this frightening report, the Trump administration is celebrating. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States produced 2.7 percent less “heat-trapping gases” in 2017 than in the two years prior. So, despite not being too concerned with our environment and not totally believing that climate change is human created, Trump is still regarding this as a win in his book. After all, it makes him look good even though he did nothing to cause this reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

This drop-in emissions is definitely something to be celebrated, however it should not be attributed to success of the Trump administration. According to Kate Larsen, an expert from the Rhodium Group who monitors greenhouse gas emissions, “The trends that are driving the emission reductions that we saw in 2017 were baked in several years before.” Thus, the successful reduction of emissions we see now was not a result of anything President Trump did, but a lasting result that was likely created due to regulations put in place by the Obama administration. Let’s just remember that the regulations that caused this are probably ones that Trump has revoked since being in office.

So what do we do now? Does this celebration by the federal government mean they think what they’re doing is working? The problem is, if we continue to find solutions the way our government is currently doing, our global temperature increase will be greater than that extremely optimistic 1.5 degrees Celsius talked about in 2015. With the way our environment is heading, it doesn’t look like anyone will be willing to make a real change until Rhode Island and Florida are completely underwater.

The reports by the IPCC are concerning and more so than anyone anticipated. However, what’s really concerning is the fact that our president is so oblivious to what is going on that he actually thinks he’s making things better. Trump claims that the scientists saying climate change is man-made “have a very big political agenda,” but has he looked in the mirror lately? There is nobody with a bigger political agenda than the President of the United States, and the sad truth is that his politics could be what brings our world into a new era of devastation due to climate change.


Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor  for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.