• Trump’s ‘America First’ Plan Damaging to Economy and Environment

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Trump’s ‘America First’ Plan Damaging to Economy and Environment

Jul 12 2016

If elected, Donald Trump has promised to implement an ‘America First’ energy plan which could prove to be hugely damaging both to the environment of the world and to the economy of the USA and the welfare of the American people.

Last year, politicians and leaders from 196 countries around the globe came together and agreed that the time for change is now with regards to climate change, pledging to keep global warming under 2°C (and ideally below 1.5°C), as well as reducing carbon emissions to zero by the second half of the century.

Trump has threatened to undermine all of that good work by promising to withdraw from the promises made in Paris and reopen coal mines if he is elected. The consequences of such folly could be catastrophic, both nationally and globally.

The effect on the environment

Back in 2014, a team of scientists compiled projections on what would happen should humankind reduce its carbon footprint over the coming years (in keeping with the targets agreed upon at COP21) and also should the situation deteriorate (as would happen if Trump was elected and kept good on his ‘America First’ policy).

It’s estimated that the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere should average out at 404 parts per million (ppm) in 2016. Sticking to the goals outlined in Paris, CO2 concentration would not rise above 450ppm in the long term. However, if Trump has his way, they could jump up to 550ppm in 2050 and over 900ppm by the 2090s.

What does this mean, practically? Well, under the Paris agreement, temperature rises would be curbed at between 0.3°C and 0.9°C from today’s levels. Under Trump’s direction, they would rise by between 0.9°C and 1.7°C by 2050, and as much as 2.5°C to 4.7°C warmer by 2099.

The effect on the people

Analysis by Robert Kopp, Associate Director at Rutgers Energy Institute, found that if people respond to rising heat levels as they have in the past, Trump’s plans could lead to the premature deaths of 3,000 to 12,000 people on an annual basis by 2050. By the end of the century, the death toll could rise from 12,000 to 65,000 thanks to heatwaves.

It’s also thought that rising temperatures could contribute to the increase of disease and epidemics. The Centre for Disease Control has claimed that mosquitoes and ticks would be able to breed and spread disease for longer and more freely, thus exacerbating problems posed by Lyme disease and other similar illnesses.

Finally, the spiralling heat levels would have a disastrous effect on agriculture. Not only would water become a scarcity (even more so than it is in some parts of the world), but crop yields in the American Midwest would fall by 25%, leading to less food and a damaged economy.

The effect on the economy

Which brings us to the only language which sadly many of the lawmakers and decision takers speak – money. Workers in outdoor professions, such as construction and agriculture, would lose anywhere between 15 and 45 working hours every year, meaning the nation of America as a whole would lose between $40 billion and $150 billion annually.

Moreover, global warming would melt the polar icecaps and raise sea levels around the world. The USA is likely to be the 11th most at-risk country in the case of rising sea levels, with 1% of the population disrupted by them (3.1 million people). Indeed, under Trump’s plans the sea levels could rise by as much as six feet by 2099, affecting around $700 billion of property in the low-lying state of Florida and $900 billion around the rest of the US.

Of course, that doesn’t even begin to mention the catastrophic effects that sea levels could have on low-lying islands in the Pacific and in South East Asia. Clearly, ‘America First’ neglects to put anyone first but still endangers us all.

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