Source: The New York Times
Later this week, Trump is expected to announce his plans for the dismantling of Obama-era climate change policies aimed at curbing global warming. The White House’s new budget plan has already proposed slashing or outright eliminating environmental research and prevention programs, including a 31 percent decrease in funding to the EPA. These policy reversals would suggest Trump plans on pulling the country out of the 2015 Paris International Agreement, as it would then be impossible to meet the emissions reduction goal. Furthermore, Trump is planning to reopen several heavily polluting coal-fired power plants which were shit down under the Obama administration due to high levels of toxic air and water pollution.
Social contracts play an essential role in determining the obligations and responsibilities between the government and its citizens. As climate change progresses, as inclement weather events become more rampant, infections from water-borne diseases and of diseases like malaria, from the increased population of mosquitoes due to warmer year-round weather, food and clean water become more limited resources, and coastal region peoples are flooded out of their homes, we must also transform our social arrangements to improve the well-being of the people of today and of future generations.
Under these changes in climate policy, the Trump administration is aiding in the doom of all human and non-human lives. Plants, trees and wildlife are becoming endangered from the actions of humans as our over-industrialization pollutes the planet. Our natural environment is important for the reason that we can not live without it. This makes it instrumentally valuable for us, but do these living things not contain intrinsic value? Yes. All living things have an ends to itself without any reference to human activity. They have their own interests. Just because some people may have no interest in nature does not mean that it has no value. Furthermore, again, our destruction of nature means the self-destruction of the human race. The social contract theory explains that our contractors have an obligation to the safety of their citizens.
Using Rawls’ “veil of ignorance” thought experiment, our contractors would not be so callous as to disregard the impact we have had on the environment, weakening policies established to curb climate change thus saving the natural environment (and us). The people most affected by this now are those under the poverty line, in places where water supplies are short, and inclement weather has forced people from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of people die annually due to climate change. Instead, our contractors would not be influenced by their personal gains, wealth or greed, or by those of large corporations which stand to lose on environmental policy and currently have heavy influence over it. That is not justice. All would have equal rights and opportunities, and the poor and worse off would be placed at the same level of justice and importance as everyone else.
Nothing outweighs the cost we thrust upon our environment. Not when we all stand to lose in the end.
(I may change the direction of my speech topic to reflect more of the ideas I began to delve into in this blog post, focusing more on the ethics of E. Policy rather than Public Relations in Corporate Environmentalism.)