By: Jia Jia Zhang
Imagine living in a greenhouse-gas emission and rubbish free environment. Hard to envision? Not for Sweden. The country’s revolutionary recycling system works so efficiently that Sweden has been importing rubbish from other countries for several years to sustain its recycling plants (1). Even better, as of February 2, 2017, the progressive nation plans to cut fossil fuel use every four years until it reaches its goal of eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions by 2045 (2). Any remaining emissions will be offset by forests that the government intends to plant (2). This promising new law passed with a majority vote in the Swedish Parliament and takes effect in 2018 (2).
Meanwhile in America, moves to counter climate change have only been following a regressive trend. President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt continue to express skepticism towards the impact of human activity as a major factor in inducing climate change. In fact, any mentions of “climate change,” Obama’s Climate Action Plan, or climate negotiations with the United Nations were removed from the official White House website shortly after Trump’s inauguration ceremony (3). In addition, a media blackout was issued in January for the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Department of Agriculture (3). Trump is not only denying the reality of climate change, but suppressing the information from United States citizens.
Under the Obama administration, the Climate Action Plan and the 2015 Paris Agreement set the nation on a path towards reducing carbon pollution, increasing energy efficiency, and expanding upon renewable and other low-carbon energy sources (4). However, Trump has taken several steps backwards, promising to not only reduce regulations for U.S. oil and gas drilling and coal mining industries, but also to back out of the 2015 Paris agreement to cut greenhouse gases—which was agreed upon by nearly 200 countries (5).
Trump’s disbelief in climate change does not change its pervasive existence. If you have been out and about recently and noticed the remarkably warm winter weather, you can thank climate change for that. Of 17 hottest years ever recorded, 16 have occurred since 2000.6 Although the world’s oceans are experiencing a small incremental increase in temperature, this seemingly insignificant shift causes a string of deleterious consequences. The coral reefs are particularly sensitive to temperature change; consequently, millions of polyp-colonies are dying. Huge populations of fish rely on coral reefs for survival, so in accordance with the food chain, a dissipating coral reef population leads to a dissipating seafood population. In coming decades, people will need to start preparing for an increase of 20 or more hurricanes each year and mega-droughts that will last for up to 10 years (7). Food prices will inevitably rise and living conditions will dramatically fall.
To prevent a slew of natural disasters from occurring, we as humans, as instigators of climate change, need to mitigate the damage we have done and stop ourselves from further exacerbating the situation, just as Sweden is attempting to do. Putting environmental policies at the forefront of politics does not discount other prominent issues, rather it prevents an increasingly threatening issue from eclipsing all others.
Jia Jia Zhang ’20 is a freshman in Pennypacker concentrating in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology.
 Sheffield, H. Sweden’s recycling is so revolutionary, the country has run out of rubbish. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/ sweden-s-recycling-is-so-revolutionary-thecountry-has-run-out-of-rubbish-a7462976.html (accessed Feb. 20, 2017).
 Doyle, A. Sweden sets goal to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. http:// http://www.reuters.com/article/climatechange-sweden-idUSL5N1FN6F2 (accessed Feb. 20, 2017).
 Abbott, E. Donald Trump Signing Executive Order Declaring Climate Change A Threat Is Fake News. http://www.business2community.com/government-politics/donald-trump-signing-executive-order-declaring-climate-changethreat-fake-news-01769494#d4zAX5rkBaaPmBq3.97 (accessed Feb. 20, 2017).
 Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. https:// http://www.c2es.org/federal/obama-climate-plan-resources (accessed Feb. 20, 2017).
 Fortune. President Trump Prepares to Withdraw from Groundbreaking Climate Change Agreement, Transition Official Says. http://fortune.com/2017/01/30/donald-trump-parisagreement-climate-change-withdraw/ (accessed Feb. 20, 2017).
 Patel, J. How 2016 Became Earth’s Hottest Year on Record. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/18/science/earth/2016-hottest-year-on-record.html?_r=0 (accessed Feb. 20, 2017)  CNN. 11 Ways Climate Change Affects the World. http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/24/world/gallery/climate-change-impact/ (accessed Feb. 20, 2017).