In the midst of the coronavirus madness, the Trump administration has decided to significantly decrease the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) regulations, which will have detrimental effects on the planet.
Typically, companies are required to report when they release a certain level of pollutants into the air or water but recent decisions have removed the need to report levels of pollutants to the EPA. Instead, the EPA’s federal authority is now in the hands of state offices, which leaves companies responsible for monitoring their own pollution during the pandemic.
This results in companies releasing as much pollution as they want without fear of penalty. According to the EPA, in 2018, there was 76 million tons of pollution emitted into the atmosphere in the U.S. alone, while more than 6 billion pounds of garbage ends up in the oceans every year. Those catastrophic numbers have occurred when regulations were in place, so the decision to eradicate those regulations was not thought out and was an irresponsible choice on the Trump administration’s part.
The Trump administration has been a long-time supporter of the fossil fuel industry and is on the stance that climate change isn’t an important issue to the point of questioning its legitimacy. This has already led them to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and rollback over 95 environmental rules and now, they’re completely ending regulations until the pandemic has calmed down.
While, yes, the pandemic is the number one priority right now, other priorities shouldn’t be completely cast aside. The U.S. is the second greatest polluter following China with 5,414 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year compared to China’s 10,357 million metric tons and this decision is going to increase that number drastically.
COVID-19 is a global pandemic. It’s spread to over 200 countries, but no other country has made the decision to roll back their environmental regulations, so it’s illogical that the U.S. did. It’s hard to understand the “why” behind this decision.
Many biologists believe we’re currently in the sixth mass extinction event that is caused by humans known as the Holocene extinction based on the background extinction rate that is 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate. Environmental regulations help reduce pollution, which is important in maintaining the diversity of life on Earth and are, therefore, needed to help prevent, or at least postpone, extinction.
Earth is our home. Colonization of Mars is still many decades to a century away. We can’t dismiss the health of Earth. People are sick now, but the earth has been sick for a long time because of us and this decision could help make the earth go from a stable condition to critical.