Donald Trump has sparked international outrage after announcing that he will withdraw the US from the worldwide deal that aims to tackle global warming.
The US laughing stock president will pull his country from the Paris Climate Agreement, claiming it “disadvantages the United States…leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost”.
The US is responsible for some 15 per cent of global carbon emissions and, under Barack Obama, had promised $3 billion to help developing countries take action against climate change.
But, in brief, Trump wants to “Make America Great Again” while not giving a shit about, err, making the planet great again, so he’s tearing it all up and letting carnage ensue.
If you can bear to watch his speech in full, it’s below, otherwise skip ahead for your full lowdown on what all this really means.
I’m not sure what the Paris Climate Deal is
In brief, the “historic” agreement unites the whole world in a bid to tackle global warming caused by industry and agricultural emissions.
The short-term aim is to keep global temperatures “well below” 2C above pre-industrial times, while “endeavouring to limit” them to 1.5C. They are already nearly at 1C.
The long-term aim, beginning between 2050 and 2100, is to limit emissions to a level that can be absorbed naturally by oceans, trees etc.
Each country’s efforts will be reviewed every five years to ensure they’re pulling their socks up and richer countries will help poorer ones adapt to using renewables by offering them “climate finance”.
— Michael Del Moro (@MikeDelMoro) June 1, 2017
So what’s to blame for global warming?
Fossil fuels, mainly. Burning these releases high levels of carbon dioxide, which sticks around in the earth’s atmosphere for much longer than water vapour. Right now, it would take hundreds of years for the level of CO2 to return to what it was during pre-industrial times (pre 1750). That’s bad enough, but ignoring it will be even worse.
Deforestation is also a right bummer. If you paid attention in biology you’ll know that trees absorb CO2, so cutting them down does nothing but hinder environmental progress.
Is climate chance really that dangerous?
If you take advice from selfish Donald Trump, no. If you take advice from knowledgeable and passionate environmental scientists, yes. Shevolution prefers to take advice from the latter, so let’s go with yes.
Scientists believe that, should the current levels of global warming continue or increase, humans risk destabilising the planet’s climate to devastating effect. They want to step up the target, as do the leaders of island nations and low-lying countries at risk from rising sea levels (some 3mm, FYI).
(Just in case you still need swaying, Leonardo DiCaprio is in the scientists’ camp, too. It really is the best place to be.)
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) June 1, 2017
How will it affect me?
No-one knows quite how bad things could get, but that’s scary enough in itself. For starters, there will be more extreme weather likely to cause deaths, a risk of drought as summers get hotter, huge changes to food production, coastal towns slowly disappearing into the sea…
But remember, it’s not all about you. Poor countries will suffer the most, with the World Health Organization predicting an increase in malaria, malnutrition and diseases spread by contaminated water.
Think of our wildlife, too. Species will become extinct as their habitats change faster than they can adapt. Coral reefs will eventually die as all that CO2 makes oceans more acidic.
I just checked Twitter and people are really angry!
Yep, and rightly so. World leaders have widely condemned Trump’s “reckless” decision, entrepreneur Elon Musk and Disney CEO Robert Iger have both quit the President’s Council and people have gathered outside the White House to protest.
Filmmaker Michael Moore has accused Trump of “committing a crime against humanity”, actress Bette Midler has described him as a “destructive megalomaniac” and singer John Legend has branded him “our national embarrassment”.
Our favourite response, however, goes to actor George Takei:
Trump is having the U.S. pull out of the Paris Climate Accord. Too bad someone didn't tell his father that he shoulda pulled out, too.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 1, 2017
Oh and thanks to a pissed off JK Rowling for drawing our attention to the best front page we’ve seen yet, courtesy of the German press:
Very much enjoying the German press at the moment. "Earth to Trump…" pic.twitter.com/sPqkUPYVlw
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 2, 2017
Can I make a difference?
Definitely. When faced with such a massive issue, it’s understandable to feel that your individual actions won’t change a thing. But if we all let that stop us, nothing would ever improve. Everyone doing their bit, however small, leads to big change.
Check out the Greenpeace website for some tips on how you could make your lifestyle more environmentally-friendly. Remember, it’s much better to do something than nothing. Every little really does help.