In the aftermath of the election, there have been many reactions: protests against President-elect Donald Trump, praise for his winning, petitions to get Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office despite the results of the election.
Those, though, are all topics for a different article.
Let’s turn our attention to the sickness that plagues the developed world, and specifically the United States, an ailment Trump will only make worse: our addiction to oil.
In 2015, the U.S. imported 9.4 million barrels of oil per day and consumed 19.4 million barrels every day, according to the U.S Energy Information Administration. That means every person in America uses 52.2 barrels of oil every year. To put that in perspective, the oil per capita is 13.5 barrels in China, which has a population four times greater than the U.S.
Much of Trump’s position on the environment revolves around “energy independence.” According to his website, “the Trump Administration will make America energy independent.” A noble feat, but practically impossible if he wants to continue to rely on fossil fuels.
America can’t really be “energy independent” until we are independent of fossil fuels, a daunting task that Trump’s administration will gloss over because he wants to “end the war on coal” and continue drilling for natural gas and oil on U.S. soil.
Nearly half of our oil supply comes from other countries, an amount that can’t be easily found on U.S. soil, despite Trump’s claim that “America possesses more combined coal, oil and natural gas resources than any other nation on Earth.”
That may be true, but the process to obtain, refine and use those resources will impose significant costs on the environment.
Natural gas, obtained by fracking, produces slightly less harmful emissions than oil and coal consumption. However, it is still a fossil fuel and not a viable option for the future of energy. According to the EIA, the U.S. only has enough natural gas to last the next 84 years.
There are numerous other concerns with fracking, like possible contamination of drinking water and even induced earthquakes. Fracking also requires a large amount of land, which harms local ecosystems. According to a report, fracking produced 5.3 billion pounds of methane, a greenhouse gas more damaging than carbon dioxide, in 2014.
You’ve probably heard of that time when Trump tweeted that climate change is a hoax made up by the Chinese. In case rejecting a scientifically-proven fact was not a clear indication, Trump’s presidency will be like a huge slap in the environment’s already damaged face.
Unlike Trump’s position on environmental issues, the Obama Administration actually made great strides for environmental protection.
The Clean Power Plan, proposed in August 2015, offered a strategy to cut down carbon emissions from power plants. According to the EPA, power plants are the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. This plan contained the first standards ever to address carbon emissions from power plants.
There are many other parts to the Clean Power Plan, including large investments in renewable and alternative energy sources, like wind and solar.
It also contributed to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions worldwide. The Paris Agreement was signed April 22 by 193 nations to reduce global greenhouse gases emissions.
The Clean Power Plan is far from perfect. It still recognizes fossil fuels as a “critical component of America’s energy future.” Not ideal, because not only are fossil fuels being depleted, the effects of relying critically on fossil fuels for energy is destroying the environment, harming our health and has the potential to wreak havoc on the economy.
It’s not like we can undo years of dependence on fossil fuels overnight, though. The Clean Power Plan, while not perfect, was a step forward.
Now with Trump’s stance on energy, all the work the Obama Administration did might be obsolete. He wants to remove the proposed greenhouse gas regulations the Clean Power Plan calls for and use federal lands for oil and gas drilling.
Trump also wants the U.S. to back out of the Paris Agreement. As the highest consumer of oil in the world, the U.S. has a responsibility to help counteract the consequences of using oil. Backing out of the Paris Agreement could signal to other countries, and other Americans, that emitting billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere does not matter.
Continuing to rely on fossil fuels for energy is both impractical and severely dangerous. The world has already seen some effects from our reliance on fossil fuels, including global warming, air and water pollution and rising sea levels. These consequences will only worsen if we don’t take action to mitigate them.
Policy is the way to go if we are ever to seriously consider renewable and alternative energy, but that is not what Trump will accomplish as president. His attitudes about energy and climate change will only feed this nation’s addiction to a resource that is slowly but surely killing the earth.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Doron Derek Laor on Flickr.
Rosie Kean is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.