Every presidential election causes turmoil, and this one was particularly tumultuous because both nominees said or did things that were troubling to a majority of voters. Donald Trump made some pretty outrageous statements, but now that he has taken office he is backing off many of them. One of these is his comments on human-caused climate change.
As an advocate for climate change action, am I worried about his presidency? Not really. The laws of physics were created by a power much greater than man. No one, including President Donald Trump, can change them. That includes the laws governing how greenhouse gasses trap heat.
What these incoming leaders will quickly learn — if they do not already know — is the facts show we are changing the climate and endangering humanity on a global basis and action is required. Frankly, most political leaders already know this. For example, mayors of 51 large U.S. cities have signed a letter to Trump to take action on climate change. These mayors include Mitch Landreau of New Orleans, as well as mayors of other large coastal cities in Texas, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina.
I bet a number of our Mississippi Coast mayors would sign it, and the ones who would not would refrain only because of their fear of the political fallout.
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Every low-lying coastal city in the country is working to fortify critical infrastructure against rising seas and increased threats of storms. These mitigation efforts are occurring all along our Gulf Coast. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance and Sea Grant are working to implement protective measures. Perversely, they dare not mention climate change as the driving force behind this work, because the political ramifications of those words upset some people.
It is not just rising seas. Gulf Coast Research Lab professor Jay Grimes, an expert in coastal marine bacteria, in his Feb. 20, 2016, Sun Herald article (“Climate change and disease”), pointed out the link between the expansion of Vibrio and other bacteria in local waters and increasing temperatures.
Accurate temperature records have been kept for years. NASA has compiled records, and has been taking detailed global temperature measures. The records show the increase in average global temperature since carbon dioxide emissions began to rise as a result of the Industrial Revolution. 2016 will set a new high. I am not bothered by businessmen taking over positions normally reserved for career bureaucrats; running a large corporation requires intelligence, negotiation skills and the ability to achieve a win-win. They have the same concerns for the welfare of our country and its citizens as any career bureaucrat.
If Trump reduces the size of our bureaucracy and removes those regulations that unduly restrict private enterprise, he can reignite the spirit that made this country great. When he takes on climate change, he will find that a legislative solution is far better than a regulatory solution — especially one that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while leaving consumers and businesses with the ability to make their own choices moving forward.
Like no other, this election has exposed the huge rift in our society. This rift is fed by intolerance on both extremes and threatens to tear us apart. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Bill Curtis, a Biloxi native, has a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi and is member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.