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In Dr. Jim Quigley‘s SBC 308 – American Environmental Politics course, students are tasked to compose a 500 word Op-Ed.  Soo Hyun Ahn, a Junior Environmental Design, Policy and Planning student in the class, chose to write his essay on the environmental effects of a Donald Trump presidency:


2016 has been a year of multitudes of shocking political incidents across the globe. To name a few, Britain’s Brexit triggered the initiation followed by the ongoing scandal of South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye and lastly, the result of the United States’ Presidential Election.


As an international student studying American environmental politics, and as an individual who values philosophy and morality, Donald Trump’s win during this presidential election was a devastating result for me. As many of the Americans and public all around the world has seen during Trump’s election campaigns and in the presidential debates, words that come out from his mouth are not appropriate, which now seems to be only a personal thought.


A shift in the power from a president who has been constantly concerned in fighting against climate change, a president whom we could peek at his decency and virtue by listening to his speech to a president who does not hesitate in name-calling, who triggers people’s hate over one another and finally a president who calls climate change is a “hoax invented by the Chinese”, we are able to conjecture at what his policies regarding the environment may be in the near future.


According to Donald Trump’s official website in the energy category, there was no sign of any information about renewable energy. Two bullet pointed statements had caught my attention; “Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves”. Hydraulic fracturing is infamous for contaminating groundwater with the toxic chemicals that are used during the fracking process. It was somewhat interesting to see how he is solely engrossed in creating new jobs.


Second statement writes as “Rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions. Mr. Trump will reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production, creating at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy”. Disseminating and presenting policies implemented by President Obama’s administration as job-destroying undoubtedly proves that environmental protection is far behind in the priorities list for Mr. Trump.


We still have to see with our own eyes about what is going to happen with America when Mr. Trump’s administration takes its place in the White House, which means that we still have hopes as of now. However, there were people saying how practical he is and how he keeps his words inevitably worries me. My view about this country was that it has a lot of great potential, power and influence over the world. As with the energy policies, Mr. Obama’s effort to bring the world together for a more progressive way towards the utilization of renewable energy showed how United States was concerned with environmental protection and sustainability, and the responsibility that falls on us in minimizing environmental impacts for the next generations.


If Mr. Trump is to remove all the progressive policies that are already implemented by President Obama and America takes its steps going backward to loving conventional and unconventional fossil fuels, we may get to the point where there is no turning back where global temperature rises as with the sea levels, and many more catastrophes that we cannot predict and anticipate will come as consequences of being indifferent and neglecting the fact that climate change is real.

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