Climate change can’t be ignored by our candidates any longer

Billy Galant

Billy Galant

By Isabella Winkler, Columnist

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Atmospheric carbon has passed 400 parts per million, as reported in September, and there’s no hope of turning back.

The ratio of carbon to other gases in the atmosphere has permanently reached its peak, and with that we’ve passed a threshold. The dialogue surrounding solutions to climate change must now switch from prevention strategies to reparation.

That said, one might wonder why climate change is not a more prominent topic during this year’s presidential debates. When politicians use the matter as a talking point to further their own political agendas, it convinces people that climate change is not important, or not even happening.

Some may recognize the science behind climate change and still think it’s not a real issue, but that’s not the real problem. When we have one presidential candidate who sees climate change as a laughable and easily dismissed topic, it speaks to a whole demographic of people who conveniently reject climate science as a conspiracy in order to chastise liberals for not prioritizing the economy.

Whenever climate change is brought up in a debate, the discourse is predictable. Trump claims that clean energy is an attack on hard-working coal miners, while Clinton uses the topic to lay out her vague plan for a “clean energy future.”

Climate change is just a topic used as a placeholder where the candidates can then pivot and talk about the economy. Neither candidate seems to be embracing the harsh reality of our changing planet.

Of course, this is no surprise for Donald Trump, who refuses to recognize that climate change is happening, or at least turns a blind eye. The reality of climate change is not good for his campaign, which is adamant on claiming that climate change is a hoax for the purpose of winning over the energy sector.

In fact, if Trump is elected, he pledges to reverse Barack Obama’s Paris climate agreement, making him the only leader to deny that climate change is a function of human activity.

Trump’s case against wind energy in his speech earlier this year was based on concern that it would be a hazard to birds. A man whose own sons hunt endangered animals for trophies is all of a sudden a champion for the birds.

Clinton, on the other hand, is a hopeful leader in the environmental discussion, but still fails to lay out a specific plan in her debates. As someone who supported the Keystone pipeline, then promptly and conveniently opposed it before announcing her candidacy, it’s hard to believe that she will take a firm stance on climate change and not just use it as a buzz word.

As the debates come and go, it becomes more and more obvious that neither candidate has a plan to address climate change. While one conveniently denies it and the other conveniently takes advantage of it, we’re still left waiting for a leader who will address the facts and take the issue seriously — not only for the sake of the economy — but for the sake of the earth.

The next president has a chance to be a part of the global conversation on climate change. That voice should, besides recognizing the science behind climate change and humanity’s contributions to the phenomenon, take a stance with conviction to shift the current paradigm regarding environmental health.

Isabella is a sophomore in ACES.
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