Big Think

Anshul Barnwal | Dartmouth College

Climate change may be one of the most pressing issues in the world today. Due to its disastrous effects on crops to flooding and extreme weather, it is being addressed by the world’s most prominent politicians. However, there is a notable holdout on climate change progress: President Trump and the United States. Not only did Trump back out of the Paris agreement, but his administration essentially refuses to acknowledge climate change as a real threat to the point of removing the word from federal government websites and documents. Emphasizing that regulation would hurt American businesses, and once even suggesting it was a hoax by China, Trump has impeded much progress in the way of climate reform. Fortunately, there is a case for optimism even as one of the world’s second greatest emitter refuses to do anything.

Firstly, much of the costly emissions that are hurting the planet come from everyday use-- energy inefficient cars, using excessive electricity, etc.-- but new technologies may reduce unnecessary emissions to a point where climate change is no real threat. Cars are becoming more and more efficient even as Tesla isn’t doing as well as it once was, and smart saving technology is spreading rapidly. Furthermore, alternative sources of fuel, especially solar energy, have become nearly as efficient as dirty energy, and numerous countries have pledged to make the switch to one hundred percent renewable within the next few years. The era of oil and coal is slowly but surely coming to an end, with a greener future taking its place.

Additionally, even with Trump’s federal government being relatively useless in combating climate change, state governments have taken it upon themselves to pick up the slack. California and New York, two of the biggest polluters, are becoming more climate conscious, and even Pennsylvania is attempting to stop needless natural gas pollution. If state governments impose policies like carbon taxes, the federal government not doing so will not matter quite as much.

Finally, even if climate change does get significantly worse and none of the new technologies or policies can decelerate it, structures are already in place that should prevent its effects from being widespread. China has already started to take countermeasures in the case of refugee crises caused by flooding, while other governments are taking precautions such as storm and flood shelters to mitigate the most severe effects. All in all, climate change is almost certainly not going to destroy the Earth or the human race, thanks to the progress the world has made in the past decade.