The Daily Gamecock

Column: South Carolina needs climate change plan

<p>Rescue crews from across the country work to help those in need after rain and flood water ravaged the Columbia, South Carolina, area on Oct. 4, 2015.</p>

Rescue crews from across the country work to help those in need after rain and flood water ravaged the Columbia, South Carolina, area on Oct. 4, 2015.

As the next White House administration prepares to take office in January, the ongoing concerns of climate change need to be addressed for the sake of establishing sustainable living.

In recent decades, increasing temperatures and the presence of rising sea levels have proven to be a direct concern for Americans and should be treated as such by the next president of the United States. When looking at South Carolina alone, global warming and the erosion of coastal habitats seem to be two aspects of climate change that are only worsening. According to States at Risk, more than 160,000 people living in South Carolina are vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat, and more than 210,000 are living in areas with an elevated risk of flooding.

Climate change isn’t going away any time soon, and it won’t just disappear if neglected. When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office, there will need to be immediate pressure from citizens of South Carolina, and from around the country, so the environment doesn’t continue to deteriorate. 

China is the only world superpower that has enacted a formal climate change plan with the U.N. General Assembly. While it does make up a large portion of global emissions, experts say the other world powers, such as Russia, Germany, the U.S. and the U.K., need to follow in China’s footsteps in order to avoid environmental threats that could permanently damage Earth within the next several decades.

South Carolina has yet to develop a climate adaptation plan. According to Climate Nexus, without formal action on climate, the South Carolina coast will see an additional $743 million in annual damages by 2050. Unfortunately, this isn’t just an issue for South Carolina, but for the entirety of the U.S.

Politicians in South Carolina need to play a role in strengthening the focus on climate change. The easiest way to do this is by implementing a statewide target to reach carbon neutrality before 2045. While this may seem like minuscule progress, it will contribute significantly toward spreading awareness about environmental concerns and urging citizens to play a part in reaching that target.

A target to reach carbon neutrality within the next two decades would encourage South Carolinians to actively participate in environmental relief. This means more people would adopt environmentally friendly standards, such as purchasing an electric car for the sake of receiving a tax credit or even something as simple as reusing, reducing and recycling more frequently.

According to the World Resources Institute, without a state-wide emissions target, there will be more heat-related deaths, a detrimental decline in crop yields and more damage to homes and infrastructure from rising sea levels.

For a climate change plan to be made, students should get involved by signing online petitions or reaching out to local officials and demanding that action be taken to fight against rising sea levels and global warming. Don’t wait until it’s too late. For climate change to be made a priority by the next White House administration, citizens have to use their voices and make their concerns heard. A great place to start is by visiting Change.org and signing petitions or call Governor McMaster by dialing 803-734-2100 and demand that a climate change plan be made. The future depends on it.


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