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.
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.
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