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Climate Change in the United States: A Scientific and Political Fight

Climate change has become a heated debate over the course of a decade. It has been shown, with overwhelming scientific evidence, that the world is getting drastically warmer in recent decades due to greenhouse gases. Although climate change is known to cause ecological and economic damages such as wildfires and droughts, it can also pose a major risk to public health. Interestingly, climate change is a controversial issue in the United States because it is also political in nature as opposing parties have strong, conflicting opinions on how to address it. The following article will discuss the causes of climate change as well as its ramifications for public health. What exactly is climate change? Climate change refers to the global trend of rising temperatures caused by human activity. Specifically, greenhouse gases that can absorb heat, warming up the atmosphere. The most troubling and abundant one is carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere upon burning fossil fuels for energy and other commonly used chemical reactions. Methane gas is the second most abundant greenhouse gas and is released during the production of coal, oil, in modern agricultural practices and livestock. Thus, human activities are a huge source of greenhouse gases. With continued and persistent use of fossil fuels as an energy source for transportation, industry, and agriculture the Earth’s atmosphere pollution has been skyrocketing. Ramifications on Public Health Although climate change seems more like an ecological problem, it has severe ramifications over public health too. Climate change brought upon several wildfires and droughts resulting in injuries, burns and dehydration. Last year alone, 33 people were killed in the California wildfires. Warmer temperatures may also worsen allergies because of increased pollen levels, a common allergen. This means some people may be more prone to asthma attacks or allergic reactions. Smog levels also increase with warmer temperatures causing air quality to worsen. This may lead to increased coughing and chest pain which can progress to chronic lung diseases. Moreover, a warmer climate can make people more susceptible to heat cramps, hyperthermia and heat stroke in countries near the equator where the weather is warm all year long. Overall, climate change may exacerbate or lead to many health conditions that are ultimately preventable if the issue is quickly addressed. A political divide in the United States The stark difference in priorities between the past president and the current president is highlighted by their divide over climate change. Trump repeatedly denied the existence of climate change and little was done in his administration to address this issue. This denial persisted even after the rate of droughts and wildfires in states such as California and Chicago drastically rose since 1985. In contrast, a large aspect of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign was to combat the climate crisis with the goal transitioning the country to cleaner energy sources. Biden's goal is to make the U.S. carbon neutral in 3 decades and his administration has already made several executive orders to address the growing issue. As such, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project was cancelled during Biden's first day in office - a move that angered many Canadians over potential job losses. However, it is a significant display of America’s determination to address the issue of climate change by cutting out a potentially huge supply of carbon-rich oil from Alberta. Conclusion and hope for the future Joe Biden signed several executive orders to address climate change during his first week as president. While some skeptics may say that these acts are being implemented "too late", this is nevertheless an encouraging sign. The political battle over this issue is not over yet, as many Republicans are unlikely to support the Biden administration on this issue. Although the consequences of climate change on public in the U.S. can be dire, the new Presidential team seems adamant on combatting this issue. References 27, Renee Cho |December, et al. “10 Climate Change Impacts That Will Affect Us All.” State of the Planet, 2 Jan. 2020, blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2019/12/27/climate-change-impacts-everyone/. “Climate Change Impacts.” Climate Change Impacts | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/climate/climate-change-impacts. “Climate Change Indicators in the United States.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 9 Nov. 2020, www.epa.gov/climate-indicators. Group, Bay Area News. “Map: 33 People Killed in California Wildfires, 2020 Season.” The Mercury News, The Mercury News, 18 Nov. 2020, www.mercurynews.com/2020/10/02/map-31-people-killed-in-california-wildfires-2020- season. Moore, Elena. “Trump's And Biden's Plans For The Environment.” NPR, NPR, 16 Oct. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/10/16/920484187/trumps-and-biden-s-plans-for-the-environment. Sommer, Lauren. “How Fast Will Biden Need To Move On Climate? Really, Really Fast.” NPR, NPR, 2 Feb. 2021, www.npr.org/2021/02/02/963014373/how-fast-will-biden-need-to-move-on-climate-rea lly-really-fast. Wuebbles, Donald. “How Will Climate Change Affect the United States in Decades to Come?” Eos, 3 Nov. 2017, eos.org/features/how-will-climate-change-affect-the-united-states-in-decades-to-come.

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