Has Donald Trump signed Earth's death warrant with his 2018 US budget proposal?

Namrata Tripathi
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The United States President Donald Trump is not a big believer of climate change. In fact, he thinks climate change is a hoax and a Chinese propaganda.

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Although, the Congress may not pass many of his proposed cuts, Trump's 2018 US budget proposal is an indication of his values and policy priorities, and rings a death knell for all the environmental and climate projects in the country. Under Trump's budget proposal, a variety of Obama-era climate programs across various agencies will be shelved or sealed off completely.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken the biggest hit in cuts, amounting to slashing of funding by 31.4 percent, followed by USAID, Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, Commerce and Education.

Under the new budget, most of the EPA research on climate change impacts and emission programs will be discontinued. This also includes cutting Department of Energy's efforts to accelerate low-carbon energy. Even NASA's Earth-monitoring programs are set to take a hit. In other words, all the environmental and climate related projects have been dubbed as "lower priority" by the Trump administration, at a time when global warming is on the rise.

Trump's budget would cut funding for enforcing regulations, fighting water pollution, cleaning up sites contaminated by toxic waste and promoting energy-efficient appliances. It would also eliminate 3,200 EPA employees, or 19 percent of the agency's workforce, according to Reuters.

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Let's look at the major climate change and environment programs which are set to be slashed:

Environmental Protection Agency (lowest funding in 40 years)

Trump has proposed a sweeping 31 percent cut to the EPA's budget, which will bring down the agency's funding from $8.2 billion down to $5.7 billion. Reports state that the 2018 budget proposal will shrink EPA's funding to its lowest levels in about 40 years.

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The EPA, which is the main US organisation working to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will not get any funding for its climate programs. Former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan to control CO2 emissions from power plants would be effectively erased under the new budget. 

There are also cuts made to EPA's "international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts" amounting to $100 million.  EPA's other major programs like the Climate Resilience Evaluation Awareness Tool will also be hit. 

Trump's budget has also proposed eliminating Energy Star, a voluntary certification program that helps firms release energy-efficient products and helps cut more than 300 million tons of CO2 emissions every year. The budget proposal has also asked to slash EPA's climate research funding in half.

State Department's climate change funding axed

The United States had pledged  to offer $3 billion in aid to poor countries, as part of the Paris climate deal in 2015, to help them adapt to climate change. The funding has been eliminated in Trump's proposal. The Obama administration has given $1 billion so far as part of the deal, which was being seen as an important step for bringing these countries into the climate deal. However, Trump wants none of it. 

Trump has proposed to "cease payments to the United Nations' (UN) climate change programs by eliminating U.S. funding related to the Green Climate Fund and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds."

The proposal does not mean that America is backing out of the Paris Climate deal, but it does mean the US is no longer fully committed to the success of the deal.

NASA's Earth-monitoring programme slashed

NASA's fleet of Earth-observing satellites is one of the main reasons why we know a lot about the climate change phenomena. The satellites, installed in 1999, collect data on everything related to the Earth's climate, from temperature and precipitation to underground aquifers and ocean currents to wildfires, soil moisture, and storms.

However, conservatives have appreciated NASA's foray into climate science and have constatntly attacked its Earth Science Division. They think that NASA should focus more on exploring the space instead of focusing on Earth's climate. Reports state that Donald Trump's budget will please the conservatives as it looks to cut NASA's Earth science budget to $1.8 billion, a massive $102 million slashing.

The space agency will also see a cut in "four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduc[ing] funding for Earth science research grants."

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If the impact of Donald Trump's presidency has not dawned on you yet, take note that if his proposed slicing of climate change funding is passed without any hassle, it will only accelerate the deterioration of Earth's worsening climate conditions.

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