Perspectives

Climate Change: USA Once a Leader in Solutions but Now an Outlier to China


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The United States once was a leader in recognizing and combatting the threats of climate change. But, under the Trump Administration, America has become the global outlier in the efforts to solve climate change problems, according to expert Dr. Geoffrey Dabelko.
Dr. Dabelko is a professor, director of the Environmental Science Program and Associate Dean at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. Previously he served 15 years as director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He continues to work as a senior consultant to the Wilson Center.
On the Friday following Thanksgiving (Black Friday), the White House released the fourth National Climate Assessment since 2000. It was produced with input from 13 different federal agencies to assess the status of climate change and its perils in this country.
The report predicts dire consequences to life, the national health, quality of life, and the economy if major climate change issues are not addressed quickly, thoroughly and aggressively. The study describes deadly wildfires, major hurricanes and severe heat as just some of the indicators that we are already feeling the impact of climate change.
Although the report, about 1,600 pages long, was lauded by climate change experts for its candor and thoroughness, it was rebuked by President Donald Trump. He asserted to the news media that he had only read part of the report but that he didn’t believe it. Some of his aides called for more data. Instead, the Trump Administration continues to remove Environmental Protection regulations in order to bolster our short-term economy.
Additionally, the United States was the only country at the recent G20 conference who did not agree the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement. Instead, America reiterated it remarks from earlier this summer: “The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment.”
While the United States is exiting its leadership position in the fight against climate change, China is moving to fill the void and become the world leader in technology to stem the impacts of climate change, according to Dr. Dabelko.
He also notes that any progress being made here to fight known evils of climate change is coming from activities of the states and from progressive local leaders across the country. He cites California as an example of a state taking major leadership and policy stands in this battle.