As a citizen activist, one of the most important issues with the topic of climate change and deforestation, is seeing how the future will be impacted if no changes are made. It is clear to see that with the current method of treating the issue of climate change, deforestation will continue to get worse and the planet’s temperature will continue to increase at a fast rate. Through my research this semester, I have found some key points that relate to this issue that need to be addressed, as well as some of the best options for addressing them.
One of the main issues is that through development and manufacturing, the planet’s temperature is increasing due to the growing number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Sullivan, 2017). The problem of deforestation is also one that feeds into the problem of climate change; the loss of trees means that there is less greenery to take the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere and convert them into oxygen. Some deforestation can also be caused by wildfires, which also directly contribute to the growing amount of greenhouse gases that are raising the planet’s temperature. The reason the increased temperature is an issue, is because the melting of the polar ice caps is causing rising ocean levels, increased storms, and extinction of many species. Many species are losing habitats because of the changing environment.
As discussed in previous posts, change is needed in order to preserve the nation’s environment. After looking at different options for policy makers to begin to tackle this issue, the option of rejoining the Paris Climate Accord seemed the most realistic and the option that most aligned with the priorities set. For the purposes of this research, I set the priorities as the increasing global temperature. The rising average temperature seems to be the most pressing issue currently (Dunne, 2018) so it was important to find a solution that also addressed this issue. In addition to temperature increase, one of the largest areas of my research centered around the issue of deforestation in the nation. The solution to the overall issue also needed to address the growing deforestation. The Paris Climate Agreement would see this as a priority as well, because of the focus on reducing overall emissions. In reducing emissions, the country would be able to focus more on preservation of the nation’s reserved forests. Not only would rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement help the United States hold itself accountable for emission reduction, but it would be a collaborative effort by all the countries involved in the Agreement.
After coming to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, it was important to consider obstacles to this solution being implemented as well as what steps to take to get started with this process. After President Trump released a statement of his intention to withdraw from the Agreement, the Administration listed some of the reasons, including: forcing unfair conditions on United States companies and workers (Pompeo, 2020). While there are certainly drawbacks to find with every possible solution when looking from every angle, the benefits of rejoining outweigh the negatives. Through rejoining, the United States would be able to hold itself accountable as well as join the joint effort of other nations in the world. This could help the United States lead by example and also show that the government does take environmental issues seriously.
In order to approach this topic with policy makers, I realized it was important to point out the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement lined up with the goals that the United States should have when looking at planning for the future. According to the National Public Radio story, the UNited States has goals of dropping emissions 25% by 2025, but it is not on track to meet those goals (Hersher 2019). The environmental goals of the nation would be complemented by the Paris Climate Agreement. I also wanted to point out that while the Trump Administration claimed that rejoining the Agreement would hurt the United States economy, the clean energy business is growing faster than ever and adding more focus to the industry would create more jobs for Americans, rather than decrease the number of jobs (Sullivan, 2017).
I would like to point out to policy makers the current issues that the nation’s forests face, and why rejoining the climate would most definitely make a difference: logging, wildfires, introduction of non-native species, and climate change (Borunda, 2020) are currently the main threats. Excessive and unmonitored logging from development has led to a direct decrease in the number of trees. Wildfires have killed millions of hectares of trees. Climate change has led to droughts that have weakened trees, which makes them unable to fight against non-native invasive species. With the destruction of trees, the soil has nothing to hold it back, and this causes erosion, which makes the surrounding land more prone to flooding (2019). In areas that have been deforested, there is less water in the soil, which makes the soil unable to provide nutrients for future crop growth. While some may see deforestation as not having any immediate negative impacts on the nation, the destruction of trees and the increase in the average temperature of the planet will have lasting effects on the environment of the nation that will impact the nation’s agriculture, land development, and preservation of species.
While in past years there has been legislation passed with the intention of protecting the nation’s trees, it is not enough to reach the environmental goals of the country. Several acts passed under the United States Forestry Service have helped since the time of excessive logging during the industrial revolution, but more needs to be done in order to keep up with the amount of greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere. Even though a large portion of the nation’s forests are privately owned, they still need protection in order to ensure that the United States has the greenery it needs to absorb enough carbon dioxide relative to what is being put out into the atmosphere. That is why the Paris Climate Agreement is more important than ever. This Agreement will show that the United States is serious about protecting the environment and the forest land in its territories.
While one of the biggest obstacles the United States faced to the Paris Climate Agreement was the Trump Administration’s opposition, the government still needs to be on the same page in order to make the efforts successful in protecting forest land. The current President-elect at the time of writing, Joe Biden, has shown support for rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, however, it will be a long process of rejoining if the Trump Administration is successful in their withdrawal.
In order for the government to successfully implement environmental policy changes, they need public support from the nation. It is important to show the public that the United States government takes an active approach to the environmental issues that the country faces, and the policy makers take these issues seriously. One of the keys with making change in environmental issues is not only gaining public support, but ensuring the public’s cooperation. Even if the government passes policies meant to protect the nation’s forest land and reduce emissions, if companies and people do not make changes to daily operations, the climate will continue to be impacted and forests will continue to be at risk. In order to make a difference, the public needs to understand the seriousness of the issue and the consequences of apathy toward environmental change. This can probably be best shown by explaining how lives will be at risk if deforestation continues. With the increased risk of flooding in areas that face deforestation, people can lose their property and their lives. Wildfires will increase with climate change, and we have already seen how devastating wildfires can be for communities this past year on the west coast of the United States (Borunda, 2020).
Through working with the government on rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, the United States can get on track to reverse some environmental damage from climate change and deforestation, and help slow down the increase in the planet’s average temperature. This will be crucial for the preservation of species, preventing erosion and flooding, and reducing greenhouse emissions.
Borunda, A. (2020, September 18). The science connecting wildfires to climate change.
Dunne, D. (2018, April 23). Deforestation has driven up hottest day temperatures, study says.
Effects of Deforestation: The Pachamama Alliance. (2019).
Hersher, R. (2019, November 04). U.S. Formally Begins To Leave The Paris Climate Agreement.
Pompeo, M. (2020, September 25). On the U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement – United States Department of State.
Sullivan, J. (2017, August 07). 7 Reasons the United States Needs the Paris Climate Agreement.