The Politics of Climate Change

According to a recent Gallup poll, 54 percent of Americans believe that climate change poses almost no threat to change their lifetime. Still, 43 percent of Americans say that they worry about global warming a “great deal,” and 20 percent say that they worry a “fair bit.” Even more troubling is just how political and partisan climate change is. This same poll found that only 41 percent of Republicans believe that the effects of climate change have begun, where 73 percent of Democrats believe this. Additionally, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that humans cause climate change. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats believe that climate change is our fault.

This disturbing divide demonstrates exactly why the United States is making no progress finding a solution to climate change. The scientific facts about climate change simply aren’t believed by many Americans. Gallup, a global political consulting company, released a statement saying that the election of Donald Trump has sparked the recent growing divide regarding the truthfulness of climate change. “President Donald Trump, who has called global warming a 'hoax,' may have contributed to this widening divide by reversing a number of government actions to address the issue. These included the announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, the removal of climate change from the list of top U.S. national security threats and the elimination of the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ from U.S. government websites and lexicons." After our President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, countries around the world including France and the UK denounced Donald Trump and the decisions of the United States regarding climate change. This has served to increase polarization and division in the United States. Trump has claimed that the accord actually would have been detrimental to national employment and the economy. He also stated that by 2100, the Paris Accord would only decrease the average temperature by two-tenths of one degree. Trump’s critics dispute his claims and argue that the benefits outweigh the negatives, especially by creating new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

While the populace doesn’t agree on one specific view or opinion, the trained researchers in this area are at a clear consensus. 97 percent of studies between 1991 and 2011 have found that climate change is real and caused by human activities. Trump’s election lead 15,000 scientists around the world to sign a letter declaring that drastic, quick action must be taken by our government to address the growing threat of climate change. Evidence of climate change can be seen locally and on a global scale. The rising sea level has caused mass displacements of island-dwelling peoples, heat waves around the world have caused health problems, and hurricanes have become more frequent and intense. In the northeast, climate change has been causing heat waves, infrastructure changes, and many cities, including Boston, have been inserting climate change mitigation into their planning. A study by the World Bank has determined that by 2100, over 143 million people will be displaced due to climate-related issues. However, to many, the effects of climate change in the near future are just as troubling. Mass displacements, underwater cities, and freak natural disasters are all plausible outcome. If society hopes to make any progress, climate change must become a non-partisan issue around the world.