Is Trump’s budget affecting us all?

Trump is bringing about big changes to the American budget that could have long lasting effects on the rest of the world. The most important changes are those related to the funding of climate change research. Trump is a non-believer when it comes to climate change but does that mean it is not happening?  The agency most affected by these changes is the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who were created to protect human health and the environment. In this article, we discuss whether cutting such funding to a vital sector is a good idea or not.

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Against cutting the finding

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), 2016 has been the warmest year to date and they believe that the trend may continue on to 2017. In an attempt to control global warming, the Paris Agreement plays an important role but the administration under the new American President, Donald Trump, will not be part of the agreement. Some stakeholders, the people who are affected by the cuts, have voiced out that the funding towards climate change should not be cut. With the decrease in budget from the government, organisations such as the EPA will be forced to terminate their climate programs. The EPA is currently the main organisation that monitors the pollution levels in the USA. Other than that, the budget allocated for NASA’s Earth Science Division will also be reduced. This division has been responsible for observing and recording the change in climate on Earth such as changes in the ozone layer. Without the important information from these organisations, pollution levels could potentially spiral out of control.

Viewing this dilemma as an engineer working with the environmental agencies, the solution to this problem is not as simple as it seems. From a utilitarian point of view, that is one where the action that is chosen brings about the most amount of good, the best action would be to continue the funding on climate change. This action would have the most positive effect on the greater number of people than if they were to cut the funding. If the budget is to be cut and the money was to be used on other sectors such as the US Military or Immigration control, it would only benefit the citizens of the USA. Whereas, if the budget alterations were to not affect the money going to the environmental organisations or the money that goes to the united nations for climate control, it would go towards benefiting the entire world.

However, the viewpoint described before does not come without its downfalls. This is because if the funding for the EPA and NASA were to not be altered at all, the government would still have to get money to fund the military from somewhere else. Which means that the funding for sectors that groups of people rely on, may be reduced substantially, this could obviously have a negative effect on the American people.

Ultimately, continuing the funding to the environmental agencies might result in other sectors having reduced resources/funding, but referring back to the utilitarian concept, maintaining funding for environmental research will still benefit a larger population of people.

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For cutting the funding

From the United State’s point of view, will cutting the funding affect their country? Or how will it affect the country in the next 2 years? Nobody can predict the full effects of it. However, according to experts, the policies that President Trump has proposed is likely to boost the US economic growth, according to the analysis, it will accelerate above the 2.2% average annual rate. According to President Trump, cutting the funding on climate research could save the country $100 billion over eight years. Thus, by applying normative judgment, cutting the funding of climate research can be a decision made based on the intrinsic value of President Trump, as his priority as a president of the country is to boost the country’s growth within a short period of time.

Apart from that, it is the president’s rights and responsibilities to set the country’s goals during his/her term time. President Trump is trying to raise $54 billion in Defense without raising taxes, and in order to achieve this, reducing the funding on climate research might be a good alternative for the country. This can be supported by the Utilitarianism theory, where in this case, it is obvious that increasing the taxes will result in direct increase of burdens on the taxpayers, meanwhile reducing the climate research funding might not cause any direct immediate pain to the country. In the plan Trump mentioned, the saved money could be used in rebuilding the vital infrastructure such as water system. Spending money on improving infrastructure could also improve the living environment for the whole society. This could be a more direct payback to the taxpayer as their money could help to increase the living quality. At this point, cut the funding is more beneficial to the society.

In addition to that, according to the Freedom Principle, everyone is free as long as they do not deny or hinder the pleasure of others. In fact, the decision of cutting the funding to climate change research does not mean the government’s denial on the environmental activists’ initiatives. It is more about the difference of interests of both parties. As long as the reduction in funding does not cause any direct harm to others, people should not deny the right of the US government in deciding their funding allocation either.

On top of that, it should also be realised that it is not only the US’s responsibilities in tackling the climate change issues, since everyone has contribution on it. In September 2015, the UK’s government has promised to provide £5.8 billion to the International Climate Fund between April 2016 and March 2021, including at least £1.76 billion in 2021; this is equivalent to $2.2 billion. According to President Trump’s budget proposal, there will be $5.7 billion allocated to EPA even after the $2.6 billion cut, which is still even 2 times greater than the funds the UK government has proposed in climate research.

This goes back to the question is Trump’s budget affecting us all?

Group 44: Alex Berriman, Mikhail Mohd Noh, Yan Li Li Loh, O Ship Lam

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14 thoughts on “Is Trump’s budget affecting us all?

  1. Something else that should be considered is the amount of human progress helped by the scientific work of the EPA and other earth-sciences. If we shove our head in the sand and deny climate change and the consequences arising from it, the problems experienced today will be exacerbated and harm the future generations. This negative should be accounted for in the Utilitarian evaluation model.

    Also, does the increase in funding for the military lead to more “good” for the world? People may argue that it will lead to more security and economic stability, but it could also lead to the opposite. Just this week the USA launched the first direct attack against the Assad regime in Syria, targeting an airfield from which the deadly chemical attacks are reported to have originated. This will undoubtedly lead to more instability in Syrian conflict and possibly lead to a larger conflict between the West and Russia. If there is not a quick resolution of the conflict, any increase in hostilities can not be argued to be “good”.

    Compared to this, any decrease in the EPA funding is undeniably bad and should be stopped. America should invest in the future through adherence to the Paris Climate Change deal and increased investment in pollution control and green energy.

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  2. Interesting read. For an argumentative piece, more points against the budget slash would have given a better sense of debate. But America moving towards a militarization state, (as evident with the airstrike in Assad just today) is a great concern for all countries.

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  3. First of all, its not about the total amount allocated to the EPA. Its what the EPA does with the money. EPA still has $5.7 billion to spend which is a lot of money and EPA has to budget wisely.

    Does Trump believe in the impact of global warming?? Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he would want the EPA to spend wisely. Even the UK does not allocate that much money to their EPA program as the UK may have a well structured program to tackle the environmental issues.

    As the saying goes; its not how much you have but its how you spend it.
    If Trump were to put the money on infrastructure, it may help if the infrastructures directly or indirectly help curb further deterioration of the environment.

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    1. He has had stated policies and the intention to roll back climate science and “job-killing” environmental regulations, which really means any that big business disagrees with. This is evident in the repeal of heightened gas economy standard for cars – which the auto companies helped developed and agreed with, repeal of a ban on dumping coal waste into waterways, and choice to not remove a number of pesticides and herbicides that studies, done by the EPA and Dept. of Agriculture, show cause child birth defects.

      This isn’t just about “spending wiser”, it’s a gut of the program (30%+ cut).

      PS. the UK is 2.5% the land-size as the US, comparing budget numbers is not apples-to-apples.

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  4. I read that the last time the agency”s budget was reduced by 22% in 1983, there were reduced cases filed against polluters. During that time, there was relaxing of the clear air act regulations. There was increase in use of resticted pesticides amongst other things.
    Think what 31% reduction in budget will do.
    It will definitely affect the Americans. But I guess, if the people running the agency take this cut as an opportunity to be more productive, trim wastages and imaginative use of their resources, the EPA would pull through. Unless of course Congress decide to do away with EPA altogether.

    Yes the amount of money EPA finally receives is more than what United Kingdom has allocated but USA is very much a larger country. Someone should calculate the final cost per head for USA and UK.

    I agree to redistribution of the budget into infrastructure; definitely more than into military hardware. There are many areas in the United States than need new bridges and upgrades of highways, but hopefully nothing like the (phase IV) Keystone Pipeline.

    As for the rest of the world, there will be countries which will follow the USA particularly if their politicians to not believe in climate change either.

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  5. Primarily if we adopt the basic concept of global environment problems are caused by poor management of waste i.e all waste. U.K after the great London fire planned and developed an efficient infrastructure to manage its waste eg. drainage, sewerage and thrash. The world benefit from this event.
    US was not a pioneer country in term of waste management. Its capitalistic economy contributed to the compromise of industrial waste and emissions control. China after it’s open political policy is facing a major environmental problem. Thus the whole world is responsible for the global environment management. The UN has not done the best of job. The US under Trump has reservations and cut it’s contribution. It’s perceived that US with it’s shift in world politics rather use the money for military, immigration and infrastructure.
    Does Trump believes in the impact of global warming? Giving him the benefit of the doubt he want the EPA to budget and spend wisely the 5.7 billion allocation.

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  6. I personally did not agree on the fact that Trumps ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to delete the climate change information off its website. Trump knows his priority of budget catering a substantial amount of money for the defense of the country but we must not forgot about Mother earth. Deleting the information off the website does not only put the effort of EPA’s research and data into waste, people’s awareness of the issue of climate change would tend to slip off at the same time. The consequences brought by climate change would be on par to the defense of a country.

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  7. An interesting article, it does seem justifiable to allocate the budget for infrastructure projects given that this would improve the livelihoods of the current community but EPA’s work in monitoring environmental changes may help improve lives over the long term as small changes in the environment tend to have drastic effects.

    It would be ideal if improvements to infrastructure and environmental protection went hand in hand (implementation of greener facilities) but if the situation is such that only one can be chosen it does seem rash to cut the EPA budget. After all, what’s the point of improved water systems if there’s no water to distribute? For quite some time now, several lakes and rivers in the US have been at risk of drying up completely. Trump’s budget cuts puts programs such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which try to solve these issues, at risk.

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  8. It’s clear that his administration has different priorities to others that have come before, but he seems to be much more open to criticism than previous presidents were. People need to stop insulting everything he does and listen to the reasons he has for doing so. Anything decided by the USA affects the rest of the world, that won’t change as long as they are the world’s leading superpower.

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    1. Hi, thanks for your comment! I do agree with you that we need to stop insulting everything President Trump does and listen to his rationale. However, upon this matter (his denial on climate change), he hasn’t give any solid evidence that explain why he thinks climate change is a hoax. His justification for this argument is just because he thinks that this is what Chinese created to make US’s manufacturing non-competitive, but what about all the scientific work that have been done by EPA to prove climate change? EPA is an US government agency, so it doesn’t make sense if we say they created climate change to stop US’s manufacturing sector.

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  9. In my opinion, funding for climate change shouldn’t be cut.
    I want to explain the reason why on this in terms of military, tax and economic growth.

    Military
    I think the reason investing more money in the army is to strengthen their country and to protect their people more. However, the United States already in high position in defense in the world and I think the possibility of a war is scarce in the world these days. (Unless North Korea declares war in the present situation).

    Tax
    If they have to pay more taxes by maintaining a budget for climate change (it will be a burden to taxpayers) but it can lead to ‘investment’ for better welfare after retirement. US has to make better welfare infrastructure. If they make better infrastructure for welfare, the taxpayers will recognize that they are paying more taxes to get a better welfare system after their retirement. Therefore creating better welfare can be a one of the option instead of cutting the budget for climate change.

    Economic growth
    Let’s make a scenario first.
    They have achieved economic growth (the rate as economists expect) by cutting climate change budgets. Unfortunately, same year, due to the lack of climate change budgets, some climate change has occurred in the United States (this climate change could have been prevented if there was sufficient budget). Because of the climate change, all working stops in US. Can they say this is ‘economic growth’ they expect?
    If they only invest in one field, the other field will be less developed. (As if studying only one module the exam and failing other modules)
    Budget investment on climate change can considered a kind of ‘insurance’ concept.
    We do not know when climate change will happen. Therefore they have to have a plan (sufficient plans not minimized plan) so that they can handle the issue.

    Based on the view above, I think budget should not be cut.

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  10. I feel that the short answer is yes. When it comes to climate change and the funding for bodies that aim to monitor and reduce climate change Trump’s budget will affect us all. The reason for this being that climate change is not limited to one country but affect the world.

    I feel arguments used to support or justify Trump’s budget with regards to the EPA and other bodies who work against or monitor climate change are deeply flawed. A central tenant of American ideology, the ‘Freedom Principle, everyone is free as long as they do not deny or hinder the pleasure of others’ was used to justify the budget by applying it only to the citizens of the United States. Ignoring the fact that this view essentially places American citizens above all other people in terms of rights, undermining so much work that has been done within our societies to try and reduce such hierarchical societies. It is still a short term view, as in the mid to long term climate change will affect the US in ways which hinder and deny the pleasure of others’. To say otherwise is to say that food security, influx of refugees and a less stable world (which could be read as more terror and more wars) will not in some way affect the US. Further along these lines, even if people say that this will not affect them within their lifetimes the question remains what about their children? Their grandchildren?

    The argument which follows that by redirecting the funding to other sectors the economy will improve more quickly and the American people will be safer to me seems an incredibly short sighted argument. While this may fit with ‘president’s rights and responsibilities to set the country’s goals during his/her term time’, should the role of the president really be so limited. Part of the problem with this definition of the president’s role is that it essentially assumes that all problems are solvable in an eight year period (assuming two consecutive terms) and that the previous president has very limited responsibility for the future of the country past their term. Climate change is not a problem that can be solved in such a short period of time and has to be dealt with now to prevent it being a problem in the future. While in the short term the budget cut could lead to an improvement in the economy and more money for the military in the long term it will hinder the economy, lead to more money being needed for the military and more work to be done on infrastructure due to the effects of climate change.

    The other argument being that the US is not the sole contributor to climate change is simply a denial of responsibility. There are other countries that emit greenhouse gases but this does not mean that the US should not meet its responsibility to work against climate change. And while there are other large emitters, the US has one of the highest CO2 emissions per capita and in terms of total CO2 emitted from 1880 to 2004 the US is the highest emitter. This I feel ultimately answers the question does Trump’s budget affect us all, as one of the leading CO2 emitters if the US does not take action on climate change it will end up affect us all.

    For me this means that the only way to justify the budget is to deny the facts and ignore the science.

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  11. And yet property developer fails to mention the earth in the earth day speech.
    How long till we start looking outside Washington for solutions?

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