During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden identified climate change as one of his top four priorities. Since his election, the Biden administration rejoined the Paris agreement, established a National Climate Task Force and introduced a variety of executive orders to tackle climate change at home and abroad.
Business administration senior Sruthi Panyam thinks these actions are a good first step, but that the Biden administration could lead more assertive action.
“The AOC Green New Deal is the level of action we should be taking at this point,” Panyam said. “[We should be] pushing that many new initiatives forward.”
The Green New Deal is a congressional plan introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. in tackling climate change. Some actions include the government weaning the United States from fossil fuels and curbing greenhouse gas emissions along with generating high-paying jobs in clean energy industries.
She said she thinks the government needs to look at all the systems in place and figure out how to improve each one and said she wants to see an emphasis on big movements like making all public transit electric.
Biological sciences senior and Zero Waste Club president Dylan Stephens said he acknowledges the current priority of the pandemic and the recency of the inauguration but said he believes the government could go further instead of reverting to the state of the Obama administration.
“All he’s done is talked and reversed a few of the things that Trump laid down,” Stephens said. “All we’ve done is continue to reverse the moving backward.”
Stephens said he also wants to see a push for the Green New Deal.
“Oil dropped down to a negative price during the pandemic,” Stephens said.“It would cost more to hold oil at a facility than to actually own oil.”
According to Stephens, the need for oil is decreasing, since alternative energy is cheap and reliable.
Liberal studies and Spanish senior and Zero Waste Ambassador Erica Beckwith said she likes that the attitude is shifting by reaching more global scale recognition and support of climate change as seen through the rejoining of the Paris Agreement.
“Biden has made new positions like a task force and Envoy for Climate,” Beckwith said. “Having people within the government, specifically for that, is beneficial.”
With these improvements, Beckwith still questions how policy areas this large will be tackled since the focus is so broad. However, climate change as a topic of conversation and on the agenda is still a sign of progress, she said.
Politicizing the issue hinders change, according to Beckwith. With a new political party winning the presidency and reverting back to previous party actions, the country is unable to move forward with long-term change.
“It’s just switching back and forth like a pendulum,” she said.
Biological sciences professor Lars Tomanek said scientists were correct in their predictions of rising temperatures, and if anything they were underestimated.
Tomanek said he thinks the various interaction and complex effects of the issue have been underestimated. He points to the disruption of various structures, including food supply with insects, pests, ability to grow crops and effects on farmers.
“People will die because of the temperature extremes,” he said.
Tomanek said the world’s population is escalating at a drastic rate, with everyone in search of food, work and opportunities. With the challenges of acquiring food, providing for these populations will prove difficult.
In regards to ecosystems, the damage will be detrimental, he said.
“We will see ecosystem collapse,” Tomanek said. “We will see very abrupt change in the composition — in basically the species that live together that includes everything from the microbes to plants to trees.”
As the Biden administration moves forward, Tomanek said he wants to see a focus on research and development, a more robust energy grid and a more resilient ecosystem policy.
“There needs to be more forward thinking in how can we make ecosystems more resilient, because they are what provides us with the beauty and the [vital] services,” he said.
In combating climate change, Tomanek believes besides government action, the individual narrative needs to change.
“We are not perfect, but we are the artists and the social animal,” Tomanek said. “Together we can bring these traits together to make for a more meaningful life that relies less on capitalism and more on a sustainable harmonic relationship.”