The idea that the Earth's climate could possibly be altered by the consumption of fossil fuels first caught my attention in high school. Not because I was a budding environmentalist or because I meticulously took notes in physical science. I was hardly a good student. I struggled maintaining C's and the rare B was cause for a celebration and eased my parent's fear that I wouldn't make it into college. Science class was a challenge even though the natural world fascinated me. I struggled wrapping my head around theories and balancing chemical equations. However, one concept was so simple in its explanation that even I could understand it.
The greenhouse effect.
Radiation from the sun hits the Earth where a portion is absorbed by the ocean and the Earth's surface. The other portion is converted into long wave infrared radiation that travels back into the atmosphere. Some of that infrared radiation makes its way through and out into space while the rest remains trapped in our atmosphere halted by CO2 molecular bonds. That remaining heat builds and warms the planet, which is why we're seeing the ice caps melt and the oceans rise.
How I understood this concept was to imagine the Earth as a greenhouse. The glass ceiling acting as molecular CO2 bonds lets sunlight through the top but keeps heat from escaping, thus raising the temperature inside the greenhouse. It's that simple and its been happening for over a century.
This week, when Donald Trump was elected president, I watched in horror as I felt the weight of the impending cataclysms of climate change grow closer. That is because Trump is known a climate change denier. The far too few times climate change was addressed this election; Trump claimed that it was a hoax. He proclaimed that climate change is not man made but just a myth invented by the far-left for political gain.
I don't honestly think Trump truly believes this gross inaccuracy. I think he want's to appeal to his political allies that have the interests of fossil fuel industries in mind. With that being said, his accession into office with a Republican controlled Senate and House means Trump no longer needs to pretend it's a hoax. He no longer has to claim it's an invention of climate scientists greedy for government grants. He doesn't have to pretend anymore because our country just elected leaders with personal interests that are in direct competition to clean energy technologies.
Despite that fact, I believe that there's real possibility within the private sector in pausing the damage of excess CO2. To become the conqueror of climate change by mid-century is a challenge that the brightest minds on the planet are striving to tackle. Right now, we are in our infancy of clean energy technologies. Solar panels are still not widely available and the electric car has yet to become practical. So it's crucial that our government, dare I say, regulates CO2 polluters and incentivizes those who embrace alternative sources of fuel.
With saying what I've wanted to say about climate change, I admit that I've really struggled with writing this post. There are a million frightening reasons to be worried about the Trump administration. Combating climate change is an incredibly important topic to me but I have by no means ignored his other fallacies. His disgusting and barbaric call to violate human rights has questioned my desire to one-day raise a child in the near future. I don't know how to rank his climate change denial among his horrific campaign promises because on one hand the environment affects every single person on this planet...
While over on the other, and more immediate hand, his promises of mass deportation, a ban on Muslims, a defunded Planed Parenthood among other essential programs, his blatant sexism, his running mate passing a law allowing the discrimination of Indiana's LGBTQ community, his declaration that his political rival should be jailed and a refusal to denounce the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan are looming threats that have to be taken seriously and it has me beyond terrified. If you believe that his words were simply political doublespeak or embellished by the media, his red-hatted followers would disagree. His rallies and finger pointing have created a safe space for bigots to step out publicly with their hatred. Just look at the Twitter timeline of @ShaunKing for day 1 of Trump's America.
The only thing I want to take from this disastrous election is the enormous divide between white men and people of color, women and religions other than Christianity brought to our televisions and timelines every night. I always knew this schism in America existed but I never knew to what severity until recently. I never knew what that fear was like for a black man to be pulled over by the police or what it was like for a woman to be grabbed without consent and then told it's her fault. I will never know that feeling of oppression but I'll never stop listening to those who do.
This man makes me so damn sick and angry that I haven't brought myself to say the words "President Trump" aloud. My non-acceptance of his term as president will not change anything - I know that. He's now in command despite my wishes that I'm about to wake up from a spiraling nightmare.
So now that we're getting ready for the Trump administration, my hope in the years to come is that the vast majority of American's will not tolerate environmental and human rights violations. That the misogyny we witnessed will inspire more of us to encourage young girls in exploring their curiosity in education, STEM careers, government and the arts the same way we encourage our boys. That we'll recognize the value in setting good examples for more impressionable eyes to witness and we'll treat every single person with the inherent respect they deserve.
I write the words I'm too uncomfortable to say.