OPINION: Conservatives on Climate Change

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OPINION: Conservatives on Climate Change

LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer

LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer

LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer

LAGOP Rally, December 9, 2016, Dow Hangar, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tammy Anthony Baker, Photographer

Molly Houser

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When Donald Trump first took office on January 20th, 2017, I didn’t know what to expect. Despite my consistent efforts to erase my bias and attempt to find common ground with those whose ideological views do not align with mine, I often find myself angry and fearful of the environmental views of the Trump administration.

The environmental views of the Trump administration are strikingly different than those of the Obama administration. Obama was determined to work on the reduction of carbon emissions and to continue to develop renewable energy sources. As a contrast, the Trump administration has been focused on increasing the use of fossil fuels, growing the coal industry, and removing regulations on big businesses.  

To me — a liberal with undeniable bias — “Make America Great Again” would mean returning the landscape of the U.S to its past glory, cleaning the waterways, and reducing our carbon footprint. To the Trump Administration, returning America to when it was ‘great’ would be a reality of coal mines, dark skies, and rivers caught on fire because of the amount of oil trapped in it.    

I often see people on twitter claiming that conservatives do not care about climate change, or don’t believe in it, and I find myself believing that this is unequivocally true, but without ever asking if it is.

Is it unfair to assume that Republican voters disregard environmental concerns? Is it unfair to think that based on the actions of Trump, conservative voters agree that climate change is a hoax ‘created by the Chinese?’

In an effort to look at how current Republicans feel about the efforts of the Trump Administration, I asked a few that I know.

Junior Liberty Campbell is passionate about her love of Trump, her religion, and of course, liberty — meaning the state of being free.

“I’m a Republican because I support most of the views the party holds. For example, [Republicans support] our right to carry our own weapons in order to protect your family or yourself,” Campbell said. “The most alluring part of the conservative party is simply the respect we have for America.”

Campbell is a believer of climate change, and agrees that there needs to be more done to help solve the issue, but disagrees with the Democrats on what needs to be done.

“I think I am educated on issues relating to Climate Change. We talk more about issues facing our world. I believe that yes, global warming is an issue but not the biggest issue. Trump is trying to put America first. He is trying to save the coal industry. Coal is a very important part of America. [Democrats] want to change that,” Campbell said.

One of the biggest promises Trump made was to save America’s coal industry. The industry is prominent in the Appalachian region, one of the poorest regions in the U.S. Coal is what the economy of these towns relies on.

“The coal field and oil/gas fields have hundred of thousands of jobs. If we get rid of that we put a quarter of of America out of [work,]” Campbell said. “Without fossil fuels, there’s nothing. We’d collapse as a country and our economy would crash.”

Like Campbell, sophomore Aidan Ayotte believes in climate change.

“Yes, I believe in climate change. I just think the media is blowing it way out of proportion,” Ayotte said.

A recent Global Commission on the Economy and Climate reports estimated that the planet can only continue to sustain itself for so long. They warn that the next two to three years will be critical in reversing emissions.

Arguably, Ayotte’s point isn’t far off. Since the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate report was released, and others like it, major news sources have run the story constantly. MeCCO (Media and Climate Change Observatory) at CU Boulder highlighted that since October 2018, reports on Climate Change stories have seen an increase on the amount of articles and news stories around climate change.

“I care about the environment of course,” Ayotte continued. “The Republican party [has] cut funding for programs we shouldn’t have to fund as taxpayers and while some of those help the environment, I think getting the private sector involved will have a much better impact on the health of our environment.”

Ayotte also weighed in on the ability of the Trump administration to combat climate change.

“Trump hasn’t done anything to combat climate change. He doesn’t believe in it,” Ayotte said. “He did withdrawal from the Paris agreement, which I believe the United States would’ve been the only country that signed to hold themselves to the standards set in that agreement. So yeah, he hasn’t helped but he saved our country from having some energy problems.”

I set out to find out if the Republican party cared about the environment, but I don’t know if I got the answer I wanted. I don’t think the people of the party view it as the most important problem facing the planet right now.

At the end of the day, it is biased and just plainly wrong to say that all Republicans do not care. But the actions of the current administration represents an ignorance that will someday result in our decline.

We have to stop looking at climate change as a partisan issue, and work together to eliminate a problem that is very solvable.