OPINION: Presidential candidates on climate change

Opinion graphic

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association confirmed that 2015 was the hottest recorded year out of 136 years of climate data records, according to Andrea Thompson in her Climate Central article, “2015 shatters hottest year mark; 2016 hot on its heels?

The 10 hottest years ever recorded have all occurred since 1998 and following the steadily increasing trend, Thompson said that 2016 is expected to beat last year’s record-high temperatures.

Some of the effects of climate change include stronger hurricanes; more droughts and thus wildfires; heat waves; an increase in precipitation throughout parts of the U.S., including the Midwest – which is projected to affect air and water quality; and decreased precipitation in the southern parts of the country, according to NASA’s “The consequences of climate change” webpage.

There are simply too many complex consequences of global warming to mention in an introduction to a political opinion story.

My point is that climate change is a monster of a problem and though it has no easy solutions, it is pertinent to figure out a way to create a positive impact on our shared planet not only to future generations, but to those inhabiting the planet now.

The field of presidential hopefuls has, of course, dwindled down to three: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Each of these candidates has their own strategy to combat the environmental issues facing the planet, but one proposes a superior environmental plan to the others.

Starting with the candidate who has, in my opinion, the worst climate record, Trump denies the reality of climate change all together.

Despite an April report stating that 97 percent of climate scientists around the world believe that humans have played a part in climate change, as reported by Alejandro Davila Fragoso in the Think Progress article, “Scientists just confirmed the scientific consensus on climate change,” the Republican presidential nominee remains unconvinced.

Trump falls in line with so many other Republican politicians in his blatant disregard of climate change evidence.

“Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!” Trump said in a tweet back on Jan. 29, 2014.

Trump continues to neglect the climate change issue, as he said the biggest threat lies more with our military in an interview with the Washington Post.

“I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons,” Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post.

The Democratic candidates, accepting the current climate problem, have more realistic steps to fixing the issue in my opinion.

As part of Clinton’s, “Clean Energy Challenge,” her campaign page says she plans to, “develop, defend and implement smart federal energy and climate standards (and) provide states, cities and rural communities ready to lead on clean energy and exceed these standards with the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed.”

One of Clinton’s chief goals in combatting climate change is to pursue clean energy. If elected, she would see to it that half a billion solar panels are installed by 2021, according to Natasha Geiling in the Think Progress article “Hillary Clinton releases a plan to modernize America’s energy infrastructure.”

Though Clinton and Sanders are both progressive on the issue of climate change relative to Trump, Sanders’ plan seems to go further than Clinton’s.

Sanders has been an avid opponent to fracking, a technique for oil and gas drilling, while he claims that “Secretary Clinton and her State Department worked to export fracking throughout the world,” according to Yamiche Alcindor in the New York Times article, “Bernie Sanders proposes fracking ban and attacks Hillary Clinton on the environment.”

Sanders plans to create a clean-energy workforce, decrease our dependence on foreign oil and, overall, clean up air and water, according to Sanders’ campaign site.

Climate change is a current and dangerous problem. Come November, it is important to look at how each presidential candidate is planning on attacking this issue or else we will continue to see a rise in temperatures and effects that will negatively impact future generations.