President Donald Trump’s insistence on removing America from the Paris Climate Agreement a few months back wasn’t necessarily shocking, but it was definitely a short-sighted move.
Basically, the agreement is a bunch of people getting together and agreeing “Hey, climate change is bad, and we need to do our part to help protect the earth.”
To the majority, that seems like a nice idea. To the rational thinker, it’s easy to see that people have harmed the environment, what with cars and power plants and *gasp* even coal. It boggles my mind that we have a president who seemingly doesn’t believe in climate change — who has actually implied it was a “Chinese hoax.” I don’t even have a rebuttal, except to throw my hands in the air in exasperation.
The Trump administration has an “America First” policy. You know, that whole “Make America Great Again” rhetoric. That’s nice, but I hate to break the news to them — there is more to the world than just America. Yes, we need to work together to make sure America is great. But, what’s the point of having a great America if we have a horrible environment we’re living in?
For people in West Virginia, it all comes down to the C-word: Coal. Our representatives praised Trump’s actions, noting that no longer being part of the climate agreement would be great for the coal industry. It’s the perfect scheme to bring back coal: Let’s help destroy the rest of the world with a quick-fix idea to help the immediate future of a dying industry.
I don’t know why this is constantly argued: Coal is not the answer. There are so many other forms of energy that are cleaner for the environment, don’t give lifelong workers cancer and don’t put their lives in constant risk of accidental death.
I learned about renewable and nonrenewable resources in the second grade. Coal, as we all know, is nonrenewable. There is a finite amount, and there may come a day when it’s not as readily available. We’re not there yet, but there needs to be somebody in this state in a position of leadership looking ahead to the future.
But, as the saying goes — “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.” Yeah, we have coal that can be mined and converted into energy. Let’s get what we can out of coal for the moment. There are a lot of people employed in the industry, and I don’t want them to all be out of a job. But, as a state, we need to look ahead to a future without coal. Those mountaintops that we’ve removed, can we put a windmill or two up there? Can we stick some solar panels by the mines? Can we do something different?
Something needs to change with this culture of thinking. Climate change is real. You cannot rationally argue against that. Science is not “fake news.” Coal is not going to bring back West Virginia, or whatever people say about it. It’s something we have that used to be a big deal, and the rest of the world is doing everything they can to move on. We need to work on a plan to move on with them.
Chris Slater is a copy editor with the Charleston Gazette-Mail.