The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is proud to feature the following post as part of a series of columns as part of a Student Voices Series issues. This is part of a continuing collaboration with Macalester College’s Geography Department and its students.
Contributed by Rebecca Krasky, Macalester student –
President Trump’s budget, released on March 16th, makes huge cuts to climate change programs administered by the EPA, Department of Energy, NOAA, and NASA. At a time when more Americans than ever believe in the urgency of climate change, it is outrageous that the federal government thinks investing in climate change research and mitigation is “a waste of money”, as stated by Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney. The fact is Minnesota’s climate is changing, regardless of whether President Trump believes in climate change. Radical climate action needs to be taken now, and the federal budget needs to fund it.
This winter’s balmy weather has been pleasant for Minnesotans, but let us not forget the negative consequences of climate change: increased flooding and severe storms, early bird migration, loss of our northern coniferous forests, and scorching summer temperatures. Minnesota will be hard hit by climate change, but other communities around the planet will be virtually erased by it. The United States needs to be leading the way in massive climate action, cutting carbon emissions drastically and heavily investing in renewables. The only way this will happen is if the people of the United States mandate government action through mass mobilization.
It’s time for concerned Americans to rise up and force our government to take action. A study by Yale’s Program on Climate Change Communication after the 2016 election found that a majority of Americans, 62%, are “somewhat” or “very” worried about global warming. These remarkable numbers mandate action, but real change will require radical action and intense political pressure. In the past few weeks we’ve witnessed the efficacy of constituents interrupting Republican legislators’ town hall meetings and marching in the streets. This needs to be amplified: across the nation, Americans must demand that their representatives in Congress fight for climate justice.
Trump’s budget slashes the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31%, and eliminates funding for 50 EPA programs. State Department funding for climate change, in the form of aid to developing countries for climate change adaptation and clean energy, is also cut. NOAA, NASA, and the Department of Energy also lose billions of dollars of key funding for climate change research and adaptation initiatives. If you’re interested, here’s a link with more information about the cuts. This budget will derail the United States from its climate progress, potentially permanently. The health of our earth and of Americans is threatened, and defunding critical climate initiatives will condemn the planet to climate destruction.
As a young person, I especially feel the urgency of this issue. In my lifetime, I will witness natural disasters, famines, the extinction of thousands of species, the melting of the Arctic sea ice, and the disappearance of the brutal Minnesota winters I have grown to love. My asthma, triggered by exposure to high temperatures and air pollution, will likely worsen, and I may have to limit my time outdoors. However, my asthma challenges are nothing in comparison to the worldwide deaths from drought-caused famines, the refugees fleeing climate-provoked conflict, or the rising seas inundating beloved homelands. This is the reality my generation is faced with, and we have no choice but to fight for the survival of ourselves and our children and grandchildren. It is imperative that older generations recognize their stake in a livable climate as well, and support us in this fight for climate justice.
Like the Occupy Movement, Black Lives Matter, and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the Climate Movement must be led by the people. We must support environmental organizations like never before, building a broad-base of passionate citizens spurred to action by the immense urgency of this issue. All Americans need to turn out for climate justice and demand that our country take responsibility for the crisis that we’ve created. The people have the capacity to thrust climate action into the spotlight.
So, what will you do right now?
- Contact your representatives in Congress, and tell them that you support funding climate change programs through the EPA, NOAA, NASA, and the Department of Energy. Don’t know who represents you? Find out here.
- Support scientists and the important work they do on Earth Day, April 22nd at the March for Science, in Washington DC and in cities across the country. The next week, join thousands of other Americans in the People’s Climate Mobilization on April 29th in Washington D.C. It’s time to take a stand for the climate, and show the the world that Americans refuse to wait any longer for serious climate action.
Macalester College ’19