Summer is officially here and the temperatures outside aren’t the only thing that’s heating up. Climate change continues to be an increasingly heated political topic, especially after the Trump administration has made it clear that the planet is not on their priorities list. If you’ve missed any of the headlines, Earth.com has your back. Here is our 2017 mid-year environmental rundown.
The biggest headline of the year so far is of course President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. Over the course of his presidential campaign, Trump promised again and again to exit the agreement within the first 100 days of his presidency.
Although he didn’t quite hit his own deadline, he did manage to make major changes to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The new EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, caused an uproar after saying that he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming.
“I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Scott Pruitt told CNBC’s Joe Kernen.
While Republicans in Congress insist on questioning the validity of the global scientific community’s consensus on the dire effects of climate change, the fact that Americans are experiencing record-breaking heat is indisputable. In California’s central valley and pockets of the southwest, rising temperatures have even proven deadly.
With July 4th around the corner, America’s independence is set to be celebrated across the country with barbecues, trips to the beach or the park for family picnics, and of course, with a night sky exploding with fireworks. It’s the most American of holidays, so it might be worth taking a look at how our various traditions commemorating our freedom are expected to impact the issue of climate change worldwide.
Last July 4th, Bobby Magill writing for climatecentral.org estimated that a record breaking 36 million Americans were expected to take road trips for the July 4th holiday weekend, helping carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles in the U.S. surpass carbon pollution from electric power plants for the first time since 1979. Magill said that lower gas prices were in part responsible for all the driving Americans are doing these days.
“Cheap gasoline has made it easier for people to ditch electric vehicles and fuel-efficient cars and buy larger, less efficient vehicles instead.”
John DeCicco, a research professor at the University of Michigan Energy Institute, added, “The trend toward higher transportation emissions shows that to address climate change, the government needs to both boost fuel efficiency standards and think beyond them by developing new fuels and technology that would reduce carbon emissions from vehicle tailpipes.”
That is looking very unlikely, given that this week has been deemed “Energy Week” by Trump. Timothy Cama of The Hill writes, “The Energy Week events are likely to focus on Trump’s policies since taking office, which have centered on removing barriers to the use and production of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. That has mostly been through repealing regulations from the Obama administration limiting carbon dioxide emissions, regulating mountaintop removal mining, extending the reach of federal water regulations and more.” So there’s that.
And what about the fireworks? According to Forbes Magazine, “The July 4th fireworks probably contribute to less than 0.01% of global anthropogenic atmospheric pollution on that one day. But they do release a lot of junk in local areas.” In the scheme of things, that actually seems far less detrimental than one would have expected.
There’s some other good news from this year as well. After years of severe drought, an unusually wet winter brought some relief to California and much of the southwest. Northern California and Nevada are now even considered drought-free.
As we round the mid-year point, there’s no telling what the rest of 2017 has in store for the planet. What we can tell you, though, is to keep it locked to Earth.com for all the latest news about the environment and the planet. We’ll keep you informed as the rest of the year unfolds.