Climate change is not an issue that just occurred recently. Adopted in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, which urges all nations to reduce release of greenhouse gas, demonstrates climate change as a serious global issue that needs an immediate solution. 20 years later, however, the United States has taken a step back in history, halting its transition from fossil fuels to reusable green energies. On June 1, 2017, just a few months before the wildfires ignited in California and hurricanes devastated Texas and Puerto Rico, Donald Trump shockingly withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, which would have superseded the Kyoto Protocol when it ends in 2020. Two weeks ago Hurricane Florence devastated the Carolinas, resulting in the loss of 13 lives. The Washington Post reports that “climate change may cause more hurricanes to rapidly intensify.” No more statistics are needed to demonstrate the catastrophic result of climate change. It is harming the lives of people across the globe. Nevertheless, due to environmental regulations’ alleged potential devastation of America’s economy, the U.S. government refuses to combat climate change. As Hurricane Florence wreaks havoc in the Carolinas, the Trump Administration seeks to ease climate regulation on companies, allowing them to release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. We cannot stand by as the government continues to ignore the glaring problem of global warming. As the midterm election approaches, if you are a citizen of the United States, there is more to do than just recycling and composting in the fight against climate change.
At Swarthmore, I believe that most of us care about climate change — that in our daily lives, we all probably seek to reduce waste, such as sorting trash, taking the elevator less, using reusable utensils, etc. I applaud Swarthmore’s effort to become a zero waste campus. However, due to fossil fuel executives’ infiltration into Congress through lobbying, our efforts will be thwarted as the government continues to condone their pollution of the environment. Fossil fuels lobbies are precisely the reason for Congress’ inactivity on climate. According to the New Yorker, billionaires such as the Koch Brothers, who made their fortune on fossil fuels, are directly affected by the climate change policies. In 2008, Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit group funded by the Koch Brothers, devised the “No Climate Tax Pledge”, which is signed by a third of the House of Representatives and a quarter of the Senate currently in Congress. The “No Climate Tax Pledge” directly opposes climate change policies, and those who have signed the pledge will always vote against policies that may combat climate change.
The corrupt politicians and billionaires can neglect the rising temperatures and sea levels because of the wealth they have gained from destroying our planet. If we wanted to, many of us could also ignore climate change, as we live in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where natural disasters are unlikely to affect our lives. However, climate change is directly affecting marginalized groups such as people of color and low-income communities all over the world. The U.S. government’s inactivity to climate change is an example of environmental racism. According to Politico.com, while the U.S. government responded in 10 days to Hurricane Harvey and aided Texas with 140 million relief fund, it sent out only 6.2 million to relieve the disaster in Puerto Rico, 45 days after Hurricane Maria landed. Even if the president calls the Administration’s response to Hurricane Maria “an unsung success,” statistics show that the hurricane has killed over two thousand people in Puerto Rico and that the island may never recover from this disaster. The outrageous discrimination of Puerto Ricans demonstrates how little the Trump Administration cares for the people of color. As hurricanes intensify, the U.S. government under the Trump Administration will nevertheless remain indifferent to climate change, because the people in power will never be affected by its consequences.
However, it is not too late to combat climate change. As the 2018 midterm election approaches, the votes in our hands are the weapons that will replace the corrupt politicians with politicians who are willing to pass climate laws, such as the 100 percent clean energy bill, which will replace fossil fuel energies with reusable clean energies. Voting matters, and your vote can change someone’s life.