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The Presidential Candidates’ Stances on Climate Change

Written by Mahnoor Imran

For years, there has been a perpetual debate on whether the existence of climate change is legitimate or a fallacy. Climate patterns play a fundamental role in influencing natural ecosystems along with the human economies and cultures that are dependent upon them. Currently, levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are escalating and it is posing serious problems for the globe; increasing sea levels, melting snow and ice, periods of intense heat, fires, drought, extreme storms and change in rainfall. Scientists project that these trends can possibly accelerate, meaning human health, forests, agriculture and other natural resources will be put at a substantial risk.

Statistics collected by YouGov show that the US is one of the least concerned countries about climate change, with 32% of the population believing that it is ‘not a serious problem’. President Obama has made this an uppermost priority of his second term, passing some of the most comprehensive environmental regulations of any president. But Obama’s successor will determine whether future policies will be similarly environmentally friendly.

A poll by Ipsos shows that an overwhelming 81 percent of millennials agree the U.S. should transition to clean energy by 2030. According to Pew Research Center, approximately 38 percent of US adults said that dealing with global climate change should be a top priority. In this presidential election, the two parties is distinctly split, republican candidates holding blatant denial and democratic candidates wanting to initiate action immediately.

John Kasich:

Governor Kasich believes that the nation should not “pursue a policy of being sensitive to the environment, because we don’t know how much humans actually contribute” in regard to the topic.  Although he does claim to believe in solar energy, wind energy, efficiency, and developing renewables, he does not understand the degree of human impact on climate change. He advocates for a strong environmental policy, believing it can coexist with strong economic growth but downplays the issue, claiming that he does not want to destroy jobs based on an unproven theory.

Ted Cruz:

Senator Cruz claims climate change is a “pseudoscientific theory” and believes that it should not be a subject of debate contrary to the sufficient evidence proving its existence. He asserts that it is a concept created for immense government control of the energy sector, economic status, and various aspects of people’s lives. He once said that satellite data demonstrated that in the last 17 years, there has been no warming but critics labeled this as nonsense. He even believes that rather than carbon dioxide being a pollutant, it is actually a factor in the earth thriving. Since he thinks there are no solid facts that support climate change, he believes that liberals must face the truth. Incongruously, he objects the usage of the term “denier” because it proves that “climate change is not a science—it’s a religion.”  

Donald Trump:

Trump has been quite clear in portraying his disbelief of the matter calling it a “hoax” and saying that he is not a believer in man-made climate change and that nuclear weapons are the biggest form of climate change that the nation should focus on. The reasons for his denial are that it is not a large problem because the planet is massive and if there are low temperatures and snow, global warming does not truly exist. He even cracked a joke saying, “It’s really cold outside … we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” He aggressively claims it is made up to justify higher taxes but prior to this statement, he claimed that the concept was created for and by the Chinese in order to make American manufacturing less competitive.

Hillary Clinton:

Despite having supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Secretary Clinton came out as against the TPP and arctic drilling, vowing to build upon Obama’s Clean Power Plan. She recently claimed that climate change is “clearly man-made and man-aggravated” and firmly believes in investing in resilience in mitigation and trying to cut emissions. She has mentioned that it poses a threat to families and economy, already taking a toll on the nation’s infrastructure. She has developed a plan in which infrastructure investments are resilient to present and future climate risk and will collaborate with different communities to develop regionally coordinated strategies.

Bernie Sanders:

Senator Sanders promises to address this issue and his climate record stretches back to his time in the Senate. He was called “the most consistent and proactive voice in the entire Keystone fight” by Bill McKibben, having introduced the Climate Protection Act, Residential Energy Savings Act, and End Polluter Welfare Act. He once declared that “The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable” He believes that Republican candidates do not have the guts to tackle the fossil fuel industry and sets himself apart from Clinton by calling for a clampdown on fossil fuel extraction. His plans involve taxing carbon, investing massively in solar, wind, geothermal energy, expanding public transit, and winterizing homes.

Studies project that by 2100, global sea level will rise another 1 to 4 feet and. temperature will increase by about 3°F to 12°F. While the mere existence of climate change is still a topic of controversy and disbelief, research shows that it is essential that societies around the world reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and begin to invest in clean energy because the past is no longer an indicator of the future.

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Mahnoor Imran is an American-Pakistani teenager, aspiring journalist, and a youth activist. She is currently a staff writer for Young Global Initiative, a member of her school's varsity debate team, and class of 2019 president at Parkland High School. She is passionate about social justice and discussing issues such as islamophobia, women's healthcare, educational rights, and patriarchal societies. When she is not busy dreaming up ideas on how to positively transform the world, you can find her taking photography, creating films, going hiking, and enthusiastically watching cooking shows. One day, she hopes to work for the United Nations and fight for equality everywhere and for everyone.


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