By Caroline Irving
Last week’s announcement of proposed budgetary cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency joins a slew of stomach-churning actions that have environmentalists bracing for what is to come in the Trump administration. The Washington Post reported that the White House is looking to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget from $8.2 billion to $6.1 billion dollars, and reduce staff by 3,000 employees. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke out about the issue on March 4th, saying that she “[doesn’t] know why they’ve decided that our core values no longer include clean air and clean water. It’s executive orders that are threatening the safety of our drinking water for 117 million Americans.” Should we allow this disregard for the safety of our environment, we may very well see our nation plunged back into the pollution riddled waterways and noxious air of the decades before the establishment of the EPA. Many have forgotten quite what its passage has done for the American people and our environment, but it serves to be reminded of what we have at stake due to this budget cut. On the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, the EPA released a statement saying that “after the Clean Air Act’s first 20 years, in 1990, it prevented more than 200,000 premature deaths, and almost 700,000 cases of chronic bronchitis were avoided. Over the last 20 years, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by more than 41 percent, while the Gross Domestic Product has increased by more than 64 percent.” This immense progress has protected not only our natural resources but also the American public, something that the leader of our nation cannot seem to understand.
Despite the fact that President Trump has only been in office for a mere forty nine days, one thing is clear: the Commander-in-chief does not believe that climate change is a reality. He said himself that “we’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement, and stop all payments of the United States’ tax dollars to UN global warming programs.” If that notion is not scary enough, take a look at just one of his many Tweets, stating that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Unfortunately, he is not alone in this flagrant denial of climate change. The Pew Research Center found that 20% of American adults believe there is no evidence to support the belief that climate change is occurring with another 31% believing that what change on our planet has occurred has been the result of natural causes. Ultimately, it will not come down to who believes in climate change if propositions such as this find their way into American legislation. Neglecting the protection of our Earth will affect everyone regardless of status, location, or opinion. We all call this planet home, so isn’t it time that we start thinking about more than just ourselves and start making strides to protect our it?