After three years of decline, the United States‘ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018. Heading into 2019, scientists expect the hottest year on record yet, which is fueled by this rise in CO2 emissions. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. was on track to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Recently, President Trump’s stance that global warming does not exist and therefore lack of regulations has led to this increase.
CO2 emissions are the leading cause of climate change, and this increase will lead to more destructive natural disasters and more extreme weather patterns. In November, the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in California’s history raged; the Camp Fire in Paradise, California killed at least 85 people and burned approximately 14,000 residences. Tropical storms have become increasingly powerful and destructive as well. Other natural disasters in the US were the Sept. 2018 Hurricane Florence, with exceeding amounts of heavy rainfall, and one of the strongest hurricanes on record with 155 miles per hour winds, Hurricane Michael. Some of the hottest years on record have been the past four years, from 2015 to 2018, and 2019 is estimated to beat these records.
Weather patterns such as these hurricanes are a result of greenhouse gasses trapping heat in the atmosphere. President Trump has gotten rid of a number of regulations set up by the Obama administration, has opened up formerly protected areas for oil and gas drilling and does not plan to transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy.
Despite the Trump administration’s effect on CO2 emissions and climate change research, there are still small things that any person can do to reduce their carbon footprint. It is important to use energy and water efficient products, and seemingly obvious methods such as driving less, recycling and planting a garden are useful steps to take as well.