Colby Hastings: Climate Change and Politics

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Photography and Text by Colby Hastings, Copyright 2016


Climate Change and Politics


Climate change is the single greatest problem our generation is facing today.  We still do not know yet what the consequences of letting this threat run unchecked would be.  But in the best case we make life much more difficult for our species, with less biodiversity, rising sea levels, and unpredictable and severe weather.  In the worst case, we could end up making our planet completely unlivable.


Making dramatic changes to our energy infrastructure is the only way to mitigate the risk of disaster.  We now have access to affordable resources like solar and wind.  As our country’s infrastructure ages, we are replacing old coal plants with solar fields, and gas-burning cars with electric vehicles.



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Renewable energy has been growing rapidly, however, fossil fuels still make up nearly 70% of all electricity generated in the US.  And while there is growing enthusiasm for electric vehicles, these cars make up still less than 1% of all of the vehicles on the roads in the US today.  We still have a long way to go in our country to transition to fully clean energy.

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The government plays a critical role in this transition.  The next president will shape policies on subsidies, research funding, renewable targets, etc.  We all face an important choice in this upcoming election.  The suite of candidates differ on every position imaginable, from immigration to taxes to foreign policy.  They also differ immensely in their energy policies.

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Ted Cruz and Donald Trump both deny the very existence of climate change.  Despite the fact that 99% of scientists believe that climate change is real and caused by human activity, both of these candidates choose to ignore reality and the dangers of a rapidly warming environment.  With either of these candidates as president, we can look forward to a world with no emphasis on developing clean energy technologies, with a renewed use of outdated and polluting sources of energy like coal.  John Kasich is unique in being the one Republican in the field to acknowledge the reality of climate change, and to see an energy future where renewable technologies play a critical role.  However, he has no plans to limit the uses of fossil fuels, and has said that he would repeal many of this administration’s policies that have advanced clean energy, like the Clean Power Plan designed to reduce emissions from power plants.


 Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are more outspoken supporters of clean energy, supporting tax credits and targets to move the US to a fully renewable economy.  When thinking about who we want leading this country, I hope that people will consider the future of our infrastructure in their decisions at the polls.

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I want to give the next generation a world in which they do not need to worry about climate change, one in which gas stations and giant polluting power plants become relics of the past.


About the Author: Colby Hastings is a graduate student at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To read more articles by Colby Hastings, go here:

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