Climate change is on the ballot

Chen-Pang Chang

A recent U.N. report warned the world has just over a decade to get climate change under control. In response, Trump said, “The climate will change back.” However, the climate will not change back unless we do something about it — specifically, students can vote for politicians who will take action.

“The first calculation of potential future global warming from industrial activities was published in 1896 by Svante Arrhenius,” said Megan Raby, an environmental historian at UT. “There has been a consensus about global warming since the late 1970s, and it has only gotten stronger since then.”

According to NASA, the lasting and observable effects of climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in regions including Texas and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms.

The trend in science is clearly not in Trump’s favor. Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree climate change is man-made. Even so, some politicians still wrongly convince American voters otherwise. Their rhetoric is too dangerous to be overlooked. It is time we take it seriously and hold these politicians accountable. Students should know who not to vote for during a pivotal moment for climate change. 

In 2017, Texas Sens. Ted Cruz, a climate change denier, and John Cornyn both voted in favor of Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, for the United States Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Pruitt quit this July in light of multiple allegations of misconduct and conflicts of interests. Scientists already warned us about the limited time left to take action. We need an EPA that protects the environment, not the industry.

According to philosophy professor Daniel Bonevac — an open Trump supporter —  it’s not clear whether solar or human activity is the dominant result of rising temperatures. However, data suggests that human activity clearly predominates over solar activity. The temperature rose one degree Celsius above preindustrial levels in the last half-century, and we are on our way to 1.5 degrees Celsius above it due to carbon dioxide emissions.

Scientists suggest that a warmer planet creates more powerful storms, something Texans have seen recently. While global warming did not cause Hurricane Harvey last year, it did amplify the storm, making it the one of the most violent hurricanes Texas has ever faced. Despite this, Gov. Greg Abbott — who is running for re-election this year — refuses to recognize climate change.

“(Trump) applied to the Irish government for permission to build a wall to protect his golf course from rising sea levels, appealing to the threat of global warming,” said Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an email. “He says otherwise to justify maximizing the use of fossil fuels and cutting back regulations. That means more profits for the energy corporations that support him and a pretense of jobs that keeps his voters in line.”

Trump is only one of the politicians who knew the danger of climate change but refused to acknowledge it. Too many of them are afraid of losing energy corporation’s money and voters’ support.

As UT students, we should stand by science, not against it. It is important that we take up civil responsibility and punish these politicians who are out of touch with reality and never listen to our voices.

The climate will not change back, despite what some politicians’ rhetoric would have us believe. Overall, extreme climate and weather disasters cost the U.S. $306 billion in 2017, the costliest year on record. Hurricane Harvey cost Texas about $125 billion — second only to Hurricane Katrina. The polls for midterms are already open, and we have no excuse not to hold politicians who prefer corporate money over our lives accountable.

Chang is a philosophy junior from New Taipei, Taiwan.