If you watched the first presidential debate or have even heard the news lately, you’d know that there is an extreme issue with how the president is handling the state of our country, especially when it comes to climate change. Like experts have been predicting for years, we have been seeing extreme weather issues, including massive hurricanes destroying homes and wildfires wiping out a million acres of forests in California alone.
President Donald Trump still believes that climate change is a hoax, while former Vice President Joe Biden is hard at work coming up with a plan for our country. During the environmental portion of the presidential debate, the Green New Deal was the main topic of discussion. While it is no surprise that Donald Trump is not for the Green New Deal, Joe Biden shocked viewers during the debate by backing away from the topic as well. If neither candidate is taking climate change seriously when we are in a national crisis, is this a cause for concern?
Let’s break down climate change first because, if you’re like me, it is a difficult concept to grasp, especially if you do not know the ins and outs its seriousness. I can think back to my Nickelodeon and Disney Channel days when they were teaching us all about recycling and global warming. As kids, we didn’t know any better to recognize it as a serious issue, but now more than ever is the most important time to open our eyes and see the world for what it is.
Climate change is caused by something called the “greenhouse effect,” in which greenhouse gases block heat from escaping through the ozone layer of the atmosphere. Earth is a self-regulating planet that disposes of unneeded heat into space. However, with so many gases emitting into the atmosphere, it causes the planet to act as a greenhouse, trapping heat on Earth. These gases are made from the burning of fossil fuels, which include gas, oil, and coal, all of which Donald Trump supports. If you have not heard in the news, Trump has promised to bring back the coal industry, which is the exact opposite of sustainable energy. Electricity is made by burning fossil fuels such as coal, which only causes the planet to heat up further. To slow down climate change, we must find a way to still produce electricity in an eco-friendly way, without the use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. How do we begin to achieve that, you may ask? The Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal is a plan, written by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to essentially wean the country off of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels for the sake of slowing down climate change. If you watched the Vice-Presidential debate on Oct. 7, Kamala Harris made sure to let the American people know that they do have the country’s best interest in mind when it comes to this environmental issue. She stated that Biden does not plan on banning fracking, will not increase taxes for people who make less than $400,000 a year, and will create 7 million more jobs than Donald Trump. Although President Trump does not take climate change seriously, nor does he want to sacrifice the money it would take to get the Green New Deal up and running, Joe Biden takes a different approach.
For those unfamiliar with Biden’s environmental policy, he is in favor of something very similar to the Green New Deal, called the Biden Plan. “First, it is worth mentioning that comparing Biden’s plan to the Green New Deal is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, because the Green New Deal is a broad resolution, not a specific plan. The goals of the Green New Deal are many, but the details on how exactly to achieve those goals are few. Thus, putting a price tag on the Green New Deal has been elusive; some experts estimate it would likely be tens of trillions of dollars over 10 years.” To break it down, the Green New Deal and the Biden Plan have the same outcome in mind. They mainly differentiate on the timeline and the money it would take to achieve their long list of goals, which, for the Biden Plan, includes ending the use of fossil fuels by 2035. He plans to get rid of greenhouse gases entirely by the year 2050 by replacing them with renewable energy.
Furthermore, he plans to have the U.S. run mainly on electric vehicles to reduce air pollution. Along with fixing climate change, the Green New Deal aims to also improve the U.S. economy by creating millions of high-paying jobs, which, in turn, will fix income inequality and poverty. As stated by the New York Times, “The resolution uses as its guide two major reports issued last year by the United Nations and by federal scientists who warned that if global temperatures continue to rise, the world is headed for more intense heat waves, wildfires, and droughts. The research shows that the United States economy could lose billions of dollars by the end of the century because of climate change. Currently, carbon emissions are rising, by 3.4 percent last year in the United States and by 2.7 percent globally, according to early estimates.” There is no running from the facts anymore. This is a plan that will save our society and our economy all in one. If we sit back and do nothing, it will only inevitably get worse from here on out.
Another essential issue to keep in mind is the presidential candidates’ opinions on the Paris Accord. The Paris Accord is an agreement with the United Nations on climate change dealing with gas emissions. All 187 countries that take part in the accord contribute money to it. However, one of the first things President Trump did when he took office on Jan. 20, 2017 was take the U.S. out of the Paris Accord. Former Vice President Biden recently stated in the debate that one of the first things he plans to do if he takes office will be to reinstate us.
An easier way to look at the presidential candidates’ mindsets is to look at their main focus on this issue. Donald Trump believes that the GND will cost too much money, along with too many of the American public’s jobs, thus tanking the economy. In contrast, in the presidential debate, Joe Biden proposed that “we can get to net zero in terms of energy production by 2035, not only not costing people jobs, [but] creating jobs, creating millions of good-paying jobs. . . .” Biden also promises that this plan could be carried out in as little as four years. Republicans are against this idea because it is supposed to cost $2 trillion to make happen, which could tank the economy, while Democrats know that if we do not do something to stop climate change now, there won’t be an economy to worry about in a few decades.
To sum everything up, there is a common ground that must be found between the Democrats and Republicans if we want to refrain from starting another civil war. The left and right wings differentiate so drastically in opinions that it is difficult to find common ground on topics like climate and economy. This is why Biden decided on creating the Biden Plan in the first place — to tweak aspects of the Green New Deal that Republicans dislike. By doing this, change would be introduced little by little, and money would be paid over time for this project, instead of investing a larger amount of money upfront for a plan that would take at least twice as long, like the GND proposed.
Hopefully, by Biden implementing this strategy, he will be way more likely to get both the Democrats and Republicans on board to a safer, more sustainable future. At this point in time, it does not matter whether you lean more towards red or blue; this is something that is bigger than all of us, which means we must come together to solve it. I do not come from a bias on either party, but the simple facts that are at play. In the next presidential debate, listening to how seriously each candidate is taking the topic of the environment and climate change would be very beneficial for making a decision on the 2020 election.
Should we support Trump in the 2020 election? The short answer in no. Although Joe Biden did shy away from the Green New Deal during the presidential debate, he has a much more realistic plan put in place if he does get elected into office. As Kamala-Harris stressed in the Vice Presidential debate, Joe Biden cares deeply about the issue of climate change. Biden promises to not only refrain from banning fracking, but also recreate the economy based on renewable energy, while creating millions of jobs simultaneously. When making a decision in the 2020 election, it basically comes down to what is more important to save at this point in time, the economy or the climate? The choice is ours.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of CleanTechnica