Today we have an EPA Administrator who is willfully and aggressively deregulating elements of environmental protection. We need to resist federal cutbacks in environmental protection policies and programs, while also continuing to keep our eye on the daily, operational tasks of creating sustainable economy.
On every continent and ocean, Earth Institute field researchers are studying the dynamics of climate, geology, natural hazards, ecology and other subjects with direct applications to the challenges facing humanity.
Until now, Administrator Pruitt has been an enemy of EPA, but he has a chance to change the narrative and demonstrate that his conservative principles are consistent with the goals of environmental protection. I hope he decides to save EPA and serve the American people.
Many schools are being tested for lead in their water. But what about the libraries, hospitals, offices and old apartment buildings? As I observe the new president and his EPA designee, I worry about the adverse effect deregulating environmental protection would have on our families. There is more work to do if we are to truly understand the impact of human technology on the environment and public health.
With the phrase “climate change” disappearing from U.S. federal government websites and increased talk of regulatory overreach, it is obvious that protecting the environment will continue to be a fault line in American political ideology. However, though ideology will shape the nature and speed of response, the environmental problem is real and cannot be ignored.
Denying the science of global warming is absurd, but accepting the science of climate change does not require decision-makers to accept the policy prescriptions of climate scientists.
While many people around the world are concerned about President-elect Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, I am far more concerned about the possible signal to American corporations and jurisdictions that enforcement of our air, water, and toxic rules would be relaxed under EPA’s new administrator.
I left China encouraged by the widespread receptivity to the theory and practice of sustainability, but aware of the huge challenge that lies ahead. As we flew from Guiyang to Beijing for the return flight home, I looked down and saw a countryside dotted with scores of windmills. The transition from a coal-based economy to a renewable one will not be simple or quick — but it has begun.
The Pope’s Challenge on Climate Change
Pope Francis’s broad-ranging encyclical warns that we are destroying our common home and face an immense and urgent challenge to protect it. But it goes far beyond just the subject of climate change, calling for a holistic and sustainable future.
The Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES) at Columbia University provides executive training in environmental sustainability through courses in science, economics and policy. We invite you to join our leading experts and practitioners, strengthen your understanding of human-ecosystem interactions, and become an effective environmental leader and decision-maker.