Slow handclap to the President of the United States – by withdrawing from the United Nation’s Paris Agreement on climate change he has turned away from his responsibilities as a world leader in the most fundamental meaning of the term.
December 2015 saw an historic agreement between leaders of 195 countries committing to reduce emissions for the health and wellbeing of all people and this shirking of responsibility is yet another sign that Donald Trump is ignorant of the serious environmental issues that we are currently facing.
As one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, the US, second only to China, has a duty of care to lead the way in working against the damage that industrialisation and intensive agricultural practices have wreaked on our environment at an alarming rate over the past 150 years.
Burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transport – the biggest contributors to US to emissions – is no longer viable for a sustainable environment and food system.
We all know that global warming can change weather patterns – the freak storms, droughts and floods are just a harbinger of what is to come if we don’t find ways for more sustainable consumption.
The inter-connectedness of global weather systems could see desertification of large swathes of Europe and the UK with a climate akin to Iceland, with severe and long winters.
The long-term effects could include a growing season considerably shorter than at present, not to mention the loss of certain crops that can no longer tolerate new climate conditions.
It is estimated that global production could dropby a third which would be disastrous to our agricultural industry and wider economy. Resources such as soil and water are at serious risk.
We’ve cut down large swathes of rainforest to grow crops to feed animals being raised for meat and the loss of huge areas of plant biodiversity and the essential carbon-filtering function that they provide exacerbate global warming, not to mention the intensive use of chemicals to grow these crops.
Animals raised for human consumption are often subjected to intensive farming, causing not only distress to the animals but also further pollution to our waters with effluent run-off and methane gas emissions. These animals are kept alive with large quantities of antibiotics and the result is that antibiotic resistance in humans is now at dangerous levels. Who knows when the next pandemic that doctors will be unable to effectively treat will come our way, but it’s in the post.
I could go on – these things are connected. Leaders across the world have long recognised that swift action is imperative to help minimise the alarming effects of our industrial activity.
Their commitment to work together to achieve a more sustainable planet is not before time. Donald Trump’s rejection of environmental issues and inward focus is a disgrace to humanity.
Nadine Pierce is a marketer and MSc gastronomy student. She lives in Edinburgh.