Crash Course Candidate: Unrealistic expectations for climate change

With fluctuating temperatures and the recent heat waves in Antarctica, climate change is an ever impending issue that’s constantly being both advocated for and disregarded. If this attitude continues, the planet’s climate and environments will only get closer to a point of no return. 

As the conversation surrounding the topic has gone beyond the walls of science laboratories and entered the lives of American citizens, deliberation over what should be done has reached the debate stage of the 2020 presidential election. While each candidate’s propositions seem plausible at first glance, Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden seem to misunderstand how dependent society is on man-made energy sources along with the impact these sources have on the economy. 

Sen. Sanders proposes a Green New Deal to combat the spread of climate change by transforming energy to 100 percent renewability by 2030, along with reducing our carbon footprint to zero by 2050. To the untrained eye, creating 20 million jobs, declaring the issue a national emergency and investing $16.3 million toward sustainability efforts all seem plausible. The outside factors, however, of legislative barriers and uncooperative companies limit the possibility that this plan could succeed, as many of these companies have previously shown a lack of compliance with carbon emissions laws.

Similar to Sanders’ idea, the former vice president plans to achieve a completely clean energy-reliant nation along with zero emissions by 2050. He also plans to discuss the climate crisis among international powers, with the U.S. as the main negotiator in the conversation. One of the main selling points of his climate change campaign is to refuse funding from oil, coal and gas corporations, choosing to side with renewable energy companies.

        While such efforts, if put in place, would be greatly beneficial toward climate change efforts, ignoring gas companies means overlooking some of America’s most economically influential companies. Though renewable energy industries have the potential to expand, the prosperity of such companies cannot be predetermined and compete with well-established companies like Chevron. 

While all the other candidates have supported laws that treat fossil fuels as the crux of the issue, presidential incumbent Donald Trump has a completely different stance. Instead, he chose to take the country out of the Paris Climate Treaty and replace Obama’s Clean Power Plan, both of which were initiatives to reduce emissions.

 Instead of implementing renewable energy systems and promoting legislation to decrease our nation’s carbon footprint, Trump ignores the scientific research and, instead, chooses to put more money toward researching more efficient natural gas usages. All of the ideas put in by Trump are suppressing rather than spreading ideas to combat climate change.

On top of the economic problems that could result from switching energy sources, science journal ScienceDirect questions the possibility of a 100 percent renewable-electrical energy system operating in countries as large as the United States. The only country that has successfully accomplished this feat is Iceland, a country with an abundance of water available for hydropower and a population of just 300,000. 

While the European Union has managed to maintain a 9.33 percent carbon emission rate with 512.4 million residents, the U.S. can barely handle staying within 14.75 percent with a population of 327.2 million. Even considering all the changes we’ve implemented into the state’s legislation, the U.S. can barely maintain carbon emission rates. If the U.S. can hardly maintain its carbon emission rate as we are right now, how can we be confident that the country can pass and follow legislations regarding emission rates?

 Though all candidates should approach the problem with a level of caution, Sanders’ and Biden’s initiatives seem the most plausible out of the three. Using renewable energy sources, increasing awareness regarding the climate and creating more jobs are all sufficient ways to implement climate change in American society. 

Joe Biden

  • Biden’s main initiative includes establishing an enforcement legislation by 2025, increasing government funding for environmental research and quickly employing any changes to communities facing the greatest climate barriers.
  • Biden also plans to open up the conversation regarding climate change in international forums such as the United Nations and further the prominence of the nation in the Paris Peace Agreement.
  • He also promises to employ those who were previously in gas or coal industries to ensure their continuance of work when the U.S. switches to renewable energy sources. 
  • Another of his main goals include standing up to companies who have marginalized water supplies in counties and areas such as Flint, Michigan and Harlan, Kentucky.

Bernie Sanders

  • In order to incorporate new renewable energy companies into American society, Sanders plans to transition fossil fuel workers slowly by offering any assistance with housing, finance, healthcare and job education. 
  • Sanders also plans to invest $16.3 trillion into the industry toward building new solar, wind and geothermal energy sources. This proposal would also create 20 million new jobs for the American public by employing them throughout the industry. 
  • He also plans to reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 71 percent by 2030 along with reducing emissions outside the nation by 36 percent within the same time frame, overall reducing our nation’s emissions by 161 percent. 
  • His other focuses includes investing in family farms in order to change the agricultural system to one that can provide sustainable, locally grown produce, increasing the distance with corporate holders. 

Donald Trump

  • President Trump plans to continue supporting fossil fuel companies toward developing new legislations that would quicken the pace for such companies to construct new projects regarding fossil fuels.
  • Ignoring climate change and regarding it as unreal, the Trump Administration also plans to strengthen the coal industry by reintroducing it into mainstream electrical systems. 
  • He also has proposed numerous times to stop funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, a program that supports manufacturing technology that can make buildings more energy-efficient. 
  • He also plans to lift Obama’s offshore Arctic drilling ban and, instead, replace it with a legislation that would allow furthering drilling into areas such as the Beaufort Sea or the Outer Continental Shelf that houses many species of the endangered status.