If you thought there was no way 2017 could be worse than 2016, unfortunately you are probably wrong. That is unless the new US government actually starts making strides to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the recently signed Paris Agreement might signify a turn towards a low-carbon economy, if president-elect Trump makes good on promises and pulls out then Earth could be gone in as soon as 50 years, less if the problems get worse.
According to Professor John Wiens, a leading biologist, 47% of nearly 1,000 species so far have suffered local extinctions linked to climate change. Although at this point the world has only warmed by about 1°C above pre-industrial levels, that number is expected to grow exponentially between now and 2100 – as high as almost 5°C. Wiens has studied over 700 animal species and 260 plant species from all over the world finding that climate change was the leading cause of these mass deaths.
However, this bleak news could have a silver lining – the mass extinction will only come in 50-100 years IF nothing changes. Should the world fight actively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution then this is all subject to change. The world could live on prosperously with cleaner air and better overall conditions. Unfortunately this has a massive asterisk beside it because, as we all know, Donald Trump has appointed one of the worst environmental offenders out there, Scott Pruitt, as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This appointment is extremely ironic considering Pruitt is a close ally to the fossil fuel industry as well as one of the key architects in the legal battle against Obama’s climate change policies. Together Pruitt and Trump have both failed to regard climate change as more than a hoax and a ‘war on coal’. Even though since winning the election Trump has backpedalled on many of his earlier claims, including climate change, Scott Pruitt has never faltered on this point. While Trump may have spewed hate as a tool to get elected, Pruitt firmly believes that climate change is not real and has fought all his professional life to aid some of the largest oil and gas companies in America.
Although 196 nations signed the Paris Agreement, which requires nations to ‘peak’ their greenhouse gas emissions ASAP and pursue cleaner air, if America pulls out as Trump has said he wants, then it affects the rest of the world. Though he has backpedalled and frontpedalled and backpedalled some more on this issue, it is no doubt that Pruitt wants to ignore any real proof of climate change. These two together could shorten Earth’s mass extinction to less than 50 years easily.
But, hey, maybe the Electoral College will overturn the Trump/Pence ticket on December 19, probably not, but they definitely could.