Written by: Olivia Whytosek (Villanova University) and Hannah Zach (West Chester University)
Climate change has been a very prevalent discussion within America in the recent years. 2020 has highlighted one major climate change problem in particular, Wildfires. Wildfires have been a major topic this year for many people. The concept of climate change differs greatly from the Republican party to the Democratic party. The 2020 candidates President Donald Trump and Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden have very different views on climate change.
The wildfires that started in the beginning of 2020 on the West Coast have spread to Canada, and smoke from these fires have even reached Europe. This is a major issue due to the fact that this smoke can trigger more than just environmental issues such as asthma attacks, hospitalizations, cardiac arrest and many more life threatening diseases. With the air quality being so toxic for citizens, the hazardous air increases COVID-19 vulnerability and risk for the health care and health insurance industries. The toxic air has blanketed California and the Pacific Northwest for weeks now, causing some of the world’s worst air quality.
UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health opened their Center for Healthy Climate Change Solutions this month. Their mission is to work with policymakers and community groups to help safeguard human health against the ravages of climate change. The center was founded on the premise that the long-feared effects of climate change are already here and must be met with policies not only to slow the warming of the planet but also help people adapt to its reality. The wildfires have moved through roughly 2.3 million acres and still continue to spread.
Trump first acknowledged these fires during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware where he discussed his plans to combat climate change and how the effect is worsening extreme weather events around the world. While visiting California, Trump expressed skepticism that climate change was to blame for these fires. Trump believes that the wildfires are a result of poor forest management, not just climate change. Trump stated, “when trees fall down after a short period of time, they become very dry — really like a matchstick and they can explode. Also, leaves. When you have dried leaves on the ground, it’s just fuel for the fires.” Trump already declared the fires to be a major disaster and has released federal aid to help slow the spread. Trump has stated multiple times that there is more to climate change that it is not all man made.
The democratic representative, Joe Biden, is promoting the “Green New Deal”, a proposal that suggests dramatic solutions such as bringing carbon emissions all the way down to zero, no later than 2050. Joe Biden plans on expanding on Obama’s initiatives on climate change. He believes that we need to be smarter in the transportation of water, oil, and fuel. Biden believes that climate change is causing the fires on the West Coast. Through the process of reducing climate change this initiative will take a lot of time and money. Ultimately, Joe Biden believes this will be worth it in the long run. Biden doesn’t approve of the approach President Trump has taken and believes if action was taken sooner, there wouldn’t be as much damage as there is.
For businesses, natural disasters represent a serious risk management issue. Risk from the changing environment is not just related to property but also introduces other liabilities. There are potential general liability claims for third-party bodily injury and property damage. California’s insurance commissioner ordered the state’s insurer of last resort, the FAIR Plan, to offer coverage for water damage and personal liability by June 1, 2020 and double limits. The commissioner also declared a moratorium on non-renewals of homeowner policies in December of 2019 helping close to 1 million homeowners in the state.
Climate change has many different levels and this is only one small part of the overall picture of climate change. To make a thoughtful vote you should, educate yourself and figure out which candidate fits your beliefs on climate change! November 3rd is right around the corner. Educate yourself and others about different matters at hand, learn about the different sides, and don’t forget to VOTE!