Petri Dish Burger, Anyone?
By Kanishk Karan
Creating living things from petri dishes has always been the stuff of science fiction and even horror, but these days, lab-grown, or cultured, meat has become more of a reality than ever before. As far-fetched as it may sound, researchers at Memphis Meats - a San Francisco based food technology company - are producing beef, chicken, and duck meat directly from animal cells without slaughtering the animals.
Unlike slaughtering, which occurs in a quick, painful step, the process of creating lab-grown meat takes from four to six weeks and involves many steps. The first of these steps is to harvest stem cells from the animal itself.
Stem cells can develop into many different type of cells, and they are found in the muscles and organs of all living animals. For lab-grown meat, only stem cells from muscle tissue are harvested. To first obtain the tissue, scientists must separate muscle and fat cells from one another. The isolated muscle cells are then placed in a cell culture, where they multiply until their count grows to about one trillion. Following the cell culture, the muscle cells are merged together to form myotubes, which are small cylindrical muscle fibers. Finally, the myotubes are weaved around agarose, a gel-like polymer extracted from seaweed, which helps the muscle fibers grow into a patty shape.
The concept of cultured meat is realizable due to advancements in stem cell technology. This discovery supports the efforts of the movement against mistreatment of animals in the conventional meat industry.
“The world loves to eat meat, and it is core to many of our cultures and traditions. Meat demand is growing rapidly around the world. We want the world to keep eating what it loves.” explains Dr. Uma Valeti, co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, in a press release.
Memphis Meat is accumulating funding from some high profile sources, with two major supporters of the movement being Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group.
Repercussions of lab-grown meat
Some companies are using Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS), a cell-growth supplement made from the blood of cow fetuses to produce cultured meat. Besides the ethical ambiguity of raising animals for the purpose of obtaining FBS, the procedure for collecting the serum is ethically questionable itself.
Usually, the procedure is performed on pregnant cows. The pregnant cow is slaughtered while her fetus is removed from her body and brought into a blood collection room. There, the fetal blood is drained until the fetus dies. The overall draining period takes anywhere from five to ten minutes until the fetus is dead.
The cleaned and processed FBS extract is then used to help cultured cow cells develop into muscle fibers. FBS diminishes the chances of cell deaths as it contains growth factors, which are substances that can lie to cells and convince them they are right where they should be.
As mentioned on Slate.com, there are alternatives to FBS. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has listed 74 potential cell culture alternatives, but almost all are cell-type specific. Of the alternatives that can be used as universal growth mediums, platelet lysates are most commonly used.
Lab-grown meat is speculated to provide a huge relief to the planet’s current climate challenge.
According to a report published in 2012 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 26 percent of the Earth’s surface is utilized for livestock grazing. This portion of land occupied by livestock can be significantly cut down with the technology of cultured meat. Lab-grown meat does not require much space, as it can be produced in well-equipped labs.
Also, about 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to the livestock industry; shockingly this amounts to higher levels of emissions than those of the transportation industry. Concern over the livestock industry’s contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere will only increase in coming years. The use of lab-grown meat can considerably cut short these greenhouse gas emissions by lowering dependence on livestock meat.
Besides its pros and cons, this technology has definitely surpassed previous limitations and could soon be delivering non-slaughtered meat to stores near you. The question still hovering around is: would you pay more to support the efforts of lab-grown meat or stick with regular meat to save a few bucks?
Sound off in comments, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Kanishk is a graduate student at the Columbia University School of Journalism. He is a tea connoisseur. You can hit him up on his site or Twitter.
Let’s Not Sugarcoat It
By Mariel Sander
Columbia students are no strangers to sugar. Sometimes it seems like not a week goes by without a club or company giving out free Insomnia cookies on Low Beach or selling Krispy Kremes in Lerner. So when my roommate Amelia told me she’d gone “sugar-free” over the summer, I laughed. We had consumed ridiculous amounts of snack foods together throughout our freshman year and the idea that she had suddenly replaced cookies with carrot sticks and brownies with broccoli seemed absurd.
But she wasn’t joking. She’d stopped consuming ice cream, bubble tea, and even foods like bacon and marinara sauce, things that I hadn’t even realized contained added sugars.
As someone with a huge sweet tooth (deep fried cheesecake with whipped cream and sprinkles is my all-time favorite dessert), I thought it couldn’t hurt to do a little more research before following my roommate’s example. Yes, we all know eating a lot of sugar is unhealthy—but was it really as bad as my roommate seemed to think?
According to the World Health Organization, the answer is an emphatic yes. A 2015 report stated that added sugars should sit at a measly 5% of our total energy intake. For context, if you eat 2000 calories a day, one can of soda at 150 calories already puts you at 7.5%. This means that even if you eat salad for the rest of the day, you’ve already exceeded your recommended daily added sugar intake.
So why exactly is added sugar so bad for you?
To start, the word “sugar” refers to three main types of sweetener. The first, “added sugars”, includes high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and dextrose. There are also “natural sugars”, fructose in honey or lactose in milk. Finally, there are artificial sweeteners that are marketed as “sugar replacements” like aspartame, stevia, or sucralose.
As it turns out, not all sugars are created equal. Several animal studies investigated the effects of different sugars on memory, anxiety, and weight gain. In an experiment at Waikato University in New Zealand, 45 rats were fed either sucrose or honey (which contains naturally occurring fructose) for 13 months. Scientists assessed memory through an Object Recognition test and a Y maze. Additionally, they studied the anxiety levels of the rats by using an Elevated Plus Maze, a cross-shaped contraption open on one side and designed to play rats’ fear of open areas against their desire to explore.
Throughout the 13-month period, the scientists found that the honey-fed rats displayed significantly less anxiety compared to rats on the sucrose diet. Furthermore, by 9 months, assessments indicated that honey-fed rats had better spatial memory than sucrose-fed rats and the control (sugar-free) group of rats. Honey, which contains numerous antioxidants and bioactive compounds, seemed to be the key factor here since honey-fed rats tended to outperform both the rats on added sugar and the rats who consumed no sugar.
The researchers then reran this experiment, this time measuring weight gain of the rats. Overall, they found that rats on a honey or sugar-free diet had 23.4% less weight gain and 9.2% less body fat than those fed with sucrose. This may be explained by the different metabolic pathways that sucrose and fructose are involved in, which elicit different hormonal reactions. The disparity in weight gain could also stem from the fact that digestion of honey produces hydrogen peroxide, which imitates the hormone insulin and affects glucose processing in the body.
And what about “sugar replacements”? If you look at the label on a bottle of Coke Zero, you’ll see—as the name suggests—a string of zeroes. Zero calories, zero sugars. However, if you look at the ingredients, you’ll spot an artificial sweetener called aspartame. It’s not technically sugar, so does that make it a guilt-free way to satisfy your sweet tooth?
Earlier this year, an online review published findings on the effects of artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs) compared to those of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on people. The article cited an experiment proposing that the consumption of ASBs led to the development of glucose intolerance, which in turn adversely affected the essential microbes in the digestive tract.
In addition, it was hypothesized that ASBs trigger “compensatory mechanisms”. The artificial sweeteners in ASBs seem to interact with our sweet taste receptors in a way that causes our bodies to crave sugar and our appetites to increase. On a psychological level, ASBs can also be trouble—if we believe that we’re consuming less calories, we may feel more inclined to consume more desserts.
It is important to keep in mind that the data from many of these experiments might have also been subject to cherry picking. Historically, organizations with a stake in the result, such as the Sugar Research Foundation, preferentially funded studies that downplayed the negative health effects of sugar in order to support the sugar industry. A similar problem arises in many studies of ASBs and SSBs, as much of the research done is industry-sponsored, leading to conflicts of interest that may bias the results.
With all this in mind, for the month of October, I decided to give myself a challenge: I went on an added sugar-free diet. After the first week, I noticed a marked difference in the amount of cravings for sugary snacks I had throughout the day.
This said, come November 1st, I still plan on going to Duane Reade and stocking up on discounted Halloween candy. But instead of binge-eating it, I’ll be following the tried and true motto of eating in moderation. There’s no point in trying to sugarcoat it: the amount of added sugar we’re accustomed to consuming far exceeds the amount we actually need.
Mariel Sander is a Columbia College sophomore studying Neuroscience and English. She is a staff writer for Columbia Science Review. She is currently counting down the days until she can eat the stockpile of Halloween candy in her room.
No Professor, It Isn’t Obvious: How reductive language limits students’ learning in STEM classrooms at Columbia
By Maria MacArdle
“But obviously, the rest is self-explanatory.” Your professor puts down the chalk, turns to their notes, and prepares to move to the next topic.
Your stomach drops. You look down at the unfinished derivation in your notes and at the QED scribbled on the blackboard. Does everyone else know what is happening here? Did you miss a step? Is this based on something from last class? You’re confused, frustrated with yourself for being confused, and mostly wondering why nothing about this seems obvious at all.
That’s because it’s not. Realistically what you are learning in any given STEM class is the culmination of the life's work of many scientists. It wasn’t obvious to Faraday that electricity and magnetism were linked, let alone the complex math that accompanied his theories. So why would his years of work, or the work of any other prominent scientist, appear obvious to anyone else?
The language we use in STEM classrooms can have a distinct effect on the way material is learned. Beyond the clarity of the lecture, the tone an instructor takes when introducing difficult topics is something we don't often think of, but it can have a distinct effect on students’ confidence and in turn, their ability to learn.
Barnard’s own president, Dr. Sian Leah Beilock,has done extensive research on how math anxiety affects a student's ability to learn the subject. Math anxiety is a perceived predisposition that you are inherently inferior in a subject, which has a clear and destructive effect on your ability to learn it. One way this dangerous correlation is harbored in Columbia’s classes is in the reductive language used to discuss challenging topics. Words and phrases such as “obviously”; “clearly”; “easy”; “self-explanatory”; and other diminishing terms we use without thinking can have a real effect on learning.
When a professor describes a topic as “easy” or “straightforward,” we can often assume that everyone else in the room is at that level, discouraging us from asking questions of both our teachers and fellow classmates. Beyond this, language that makes students feel insecure can result in a pseudo-elitist attitude among students. With this attitude, we pretend to understand what we do not in order to appear on-board with what is expected to be “obvious.” In doing so, we put down those students who expose their confusion openly, or worse, we can use this language to exclude people from STEM fields altogether. More than anything else, students I interviewed were concerned about how it turns people off from studying STEM fields. Many of these students are deeply committed to an education in a hard science; however, this kind of language has made them question their ability to do so, making it even more limiting for those who don't see themselves as “math people” to hear language that further supports an assumption that if these topics don't make sense to you automatically, you just don't have the mind for them.
There is a lot of power in the way we, as students, choose to speak to each other about our classes. With this in mind, we can try to avoid words and phrases that close doors to further discussion. We can make a point to indicate to ourselves and others when something is difficult, and understanding it is a non-trivial accomplishment. We can respect the scientists that came before us and the intellectual leaps they took that are in no way “self-explanatory.”
In this age especially, the last thing we want to do is discourage people from studying the sciences. The stereotype of the lone genius - someone who indeed would find these topics “obvious” - remains a leading idea of how scientific discoveries happen. However, this is in no way the truth. STEM fields have always been a collaborative effort, and any form of exclusivity, be it active or passive, in the language we choose, is counterproductive. While STEM classes do not have a tendency to welcome every identity into the room equally, it is vital to understand that a diversity of perspectives is necessary for great feats of learning to occur. Therefore, it is on us, as students, faculty, and members of an academic institution, to understand and counteract the effects our language can have on the learning of ourselves and others.
Maria is a sophomore studying physics at Barnard College. She is also a staff writer for Columbia Science Review.
By Tanvi Hisaria
Consider the following situation: a runner is competing against a tortoise in a race. The tortoise is given a head start of 1 meter. Now, the runner starts running. In the time that it takes for him to run 1m, the tortoise has moved 0.5m. In the time that it takes for him to cover that 0.5m, the tortoise has moved another 0.25m. In the time that it takes for him to cover the 0.25m, the tortoise has moved another 0.125m, and so on. In whatever time the runner takes to cover the distance moved by the tortoise, the tortoise will move a little bit more. It would seem that the runner can never overtake the tortoise, but can only reduce its lead. If you perform such an experiment, however, the runner just runs past the tortoise with no regard to the mathematics involved. How can this be explained?
This is a puzzle that troubled Zeno, an ancient Greek thinker famous for pointing out paradoxes in logic and mathematics. Perhaps one of his most famous paradoxes, the problem described above led to a revolution in mathematical thinking about the concept of infinity. From the above example, consider the sum 1 + (½) + (¼) + (⅛) + …. This value gets closer and closer to 2, which is mathematically stated as “the value tends to 2 as the sum tends to infinity”. Most people understand this result as: the value gets closer and closer and closer to 2, but never actually reaches it, because you’re only covering half the distance between the value and 2 each time you add. However, considering what happens in real life, one does actually reach 2 and overtake the tortoise. This explains an important aspect about a counterintuitive concept of infinity: at infinity, you are not just infinitely close to the value, but are actually there. Thus, infinite sums have a value, and infinity is attainable!
Now, let’s consider another mathematical puzzle: Russell’s paradox. In a town, there exists only one barber, and he shaves all the men who do not shave themselves. Thus, there are men who shave themselves, and men who are shaved by the barber. But, who shaves the barber? If he shaves himself, then he cannot be the barber , as the barber is supposed to shave only the men who do not shave themselves. If he does not shave himself, then he also cannot be the barber, as the barber is supposed to shave all men who do not shave themselves. Thus, a paradox arises, and the barber seems unable to either shave or not shave himself.
This story is an example of the broader problem in set theory (the mathematical study of collections of objects). Let S be the set of all sets that do not contain themselves; does S contain itself? If yes, then S contradicts itself, since S is the set of all sets that do not contain themselves. If not, then S should contain itself, as S is a set that does not contain itself. While the barber paradox has a solution in popular lore (the barber is a woman and hence does not need to shave!), Russell’s original paradox is not so simple. Early proposed solutions questioned every aspect of set theory: the definition of sets, hierarchies of sets, and even the nature of logic itself. Consequently, the aforementioned paradox has introduced new conditions and axioms that have strengthened the foundations of set theory.
The two examples demonstrate the utility of paradoxes in mathematics. These deconstructions of logic invite mathematicians to delve deeper into a problem and find flaws in reasoning, thereby demonstrating a good strategy for solving any problem in general: to find the right answers, you have to first ask the right questions. There are various other examples, such as the Bertrand Paradox, that have led to a clearer definition of the term ‘random’ in probability problems. These paradoxes have questioned previously unchallenged areas of mathematics. In the process of resolving a paradox, all terms of the problem are examined meticulously, which leads to the extremely precise and well-defined discipline that exists today.
Tanvi is a freshman in Columbia College intending to major in Mathematics. She is a staff writer for the Columbia Science Review.
By Sean Wang
Trump to Eliminate Health Care Subsidies
On Thursday, October 12, amidst a number of failed attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Trump ordered major changes to the nation’s insurance system. One of these major changes would be to remove crucial health care subsidies for low-income recipients by cutting off critical federal payments to insurers. In turn, because markets could collapse due to increased insurance policy costs or a decreased number of insurers, there is the potential for widespread disruption to markets across the nation. Some insurers worry that markets could collapse due to increased premiums or a decreased number of insurers. As a result, consumers who do not obtain insurance through their employers will not have a choice for a health plan. These plans are also predicted to be significantly more expensive, according to an LA Times article by Noam N. Levey and David Lauter.
These federal payments Trump is proposing to cut, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, currently amount to $7-$9 billion for this year and to almost $100 billion for the next decade. These payments are used to reimburse insurers for reducing insurance costs for their low-income clients. Although cutting these subsidies supposedly implies reduced budget costs, the Congressional Budget Office found in its studies that instead there would be a net cost of $194 billion over the next ten years by removing cost-sharing reduction payments.
Cost-sharing reduction payments made to health insurers could, as Levey and Lauter state, mean the difference between an insurance plan with a $2000 deductible or $0 deductible for someone just above the poverty line. A concern for insurance companies is that, under the Affordable Care Act, they are required to offer low-deductible health plans. That is, insurers would need to find a way to provide affordable insurance plans to low-income people without the federal subsidies. As a result, the viable options seem to be increasing premiums across all plans and pulling out of markets.
While Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) praised Trump’s action as a way to give back the decision-making power to Congress, Trump has received bipartisan criticism for his measure. Representative Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla) tweeted:“Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district @potus promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite.”Maine Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a centrist Republican, who has opposed several recent GOP bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Republican Nevada governor Brian Sandoval also criticized Trump. Furthermore, Congressional democrats Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a joint statement that Trump has “apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our healthcare system.” At least nineteen state Democratic attorney generals have said they will also sue the federal government to prevent the administration from taking action.
The greatest impacts come to individuals and families who make more than four times the poverty line; they could see their insurance providers pulled from the regional markets or see their premiums sharply increase. As a result, their access to insurance is either hindered or completely eliminated. While the process for making policy changes may not take effect until 2019, the implications of what may be to come are dire and must be addressed now.
Trump Administration Rolls Back Affordable Care Act Birth Control Mandate Redo
On Friday, October 6, the Trump administration released a noticethrough the Federal Register, announcing a major change to current employer standards for providing subsidized birth control. The official notice removes the federal requirement that employers must include birth control coverage in their insurance plans. In addition, employers can now be held exempt from providing contraception services on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.
The Federal Register’s official summary states that “these interim final rules expand exemptions to protect moral convictions for certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The government notice also mentions that the government’s interest in providing contraceptive coverage does not require it to violate held “sincerely held religious beliefs.”
There does not seem to be a definition of what qualifies as “sincerely held religious beliefs.” In an LA Timesarticle by Michael Hiltzik, however, Hiltzik believes that “the new policy applies to any employer claiming a religious or moral objection to offering contraceptive coverage, including even publicly traded for-profit corporations with no evident religious or moral character. Those claiming moral scruples won’t have to prove or validate them in any way.” As a result, there would be no effective checks on companies who claim religious or moral objections. Hiltzik also notes that, unlike that of the Obama administration, the new policy does not offer a workaround to protect employees from losing their contraceptive coverage. The Obama administration’s policy allowed employees of morally objecting employers to utilize their insurance to cover contraceptive coverage; in turn, the insurers would be reimbursed by the government. This solution is not available in the new policy; in fact, there is no solution at all.
Furthermore, the impacts of the policy could be potentially far-reaching: a New York Timesarticledetails a study conducted by the Obama administration study which found that more than 55 million women currently have access to birth control without co-payments because of the coverage mandate. To put this into perspective, approximately one in three women in the United States rely on this provision.
In addition, Hiltzik of the LA Times finds that the mandate for “contraceptives without cost-sharing sharply reducing women’s out-of-pocket spending on oral contraceptives; fewer than 5% of women of reproductive age had any out-of-pocket spending on those medications at all in 2014.” He also believes that the Department of Health and Human Services’ impact analysis gives a false impression; that is, the HHS’ analysis states that the policy change “will not affect over 99.9% of the 165 million women in the United States.” Hiltzik contends that the estimate is based off the assumption that only 200 employers would be affected. These employers, however, were not the only ones who have challenged the contraceptive mandate on religious or moral grounds. The true impacts have yet to be assessed, given that more companies now have the freedom to remove birth control from their insurance coverage with impunity. Any employer can utilize this policy change to their desire; as a result, the policy change could be severely detrimental to women who cannot necessarily afford contraceptive care outside of their employer insurance.
The policy change is not without backlash. Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson (D) believes that it violates the First Amendment as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment and provisions of the Civil Rights Act. There have also been responses from the attorney generals of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, and California, Xavier Becerra, who agree with Ferguson’s assessment. They also think that the new rules violate the First Amendment. The First Amendment bars government action “respecting an establishment of religion,” which all three attorney generals believe the motion has done. Attorney General Ferguson, in his statementsuing in the US District Court for Western District of Washington, argues that “the new rules unlawfully contradict certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as a prohibition against gender- or religious-based discrimination in health care access.” In other words, the new rules laid out by the Trump administration could violate certain guidelines set in the Affordable Care Act in terms of health care access.
The impacts of the rules changes are two-fold. Women’s access to birth control is now at their employer’s discretion. There are no cost-efficient ways in which women can obtain their birth control. Not only are these constraints harmful to women, but also arguably unlawful. Furthermore, employers who choose to remove women’s birth control as a part of their health insurance plans can do so under the vague assertions of “moral or religious reasons.” Giving companies this legal precedence to deny access to a good or service blurs the lines between church and state.
Sean Wang is a first year at Columbia College planning to study biochemistry and pre-med. He is a new writer hoping to focus on healthcare policy and other global health issues. His column detailing national health care updates runs monthly.
By Sonia Mahajan
President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December 2016 reflects a growing—and alarming—lack of concern about climate change.Pruitt, who was previously Attorney General of Oklahoma, attempted to sue the EPA a total of fourteen timesbefore being nominated to head the agency. He is a climate change denier who firmly believes that human activity does not negatively impact the environment.Pruitt’s refusal to support the EPA’s basic goals of protecting the environment poses a serious threat to Earth.
There was not always so much opposition to the concept of climate change. Democrats and Republicans alike celebrated the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Two years later, then-president Richard Nixon, a Republican, officially established the EPA. While official archives do not mention “climate change” in Nixon’s original goals for the agency, they note that the EPA was responsible for researching “the adverse effects of pollution” in order to “[strengthen] environmental protection programs.” Nixon’s proposal for the creation of the EPA was met with very little opposition from Congress. In fact, the Congressman who “presented the most serious alternatives” to the EPA asked for a more far-reaching environmental protection agency instead.
Unfortunately, Pruitt’s view on climate change is now commonplace. Although climate change deniers have been a prominent part of American politics since the 1990s, it was not until recently the White House endorsed their ideology. Since the early 2000s, the GOP has increasingly supported climate change deniers. In 2004, the Republican Platform stated, “Republicans are committed to meeting the challenge of long-term global climate change by relying on markets and new technologies to improve energy efficiency.” Yet just four years later, the GOP’s attitude towards climate change shifted dramatically. The 2008 and 2016 Republican Platforms stated, “Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue.” The 2016 Republican Platform went so far as to say that “the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution.” The IPCC assesses climate change and publishes reports based on research from the leading scientists in the world.While the GOP has historically refused to address climate change through economic mechanisms that call for increased government regulation, including the Kyoto Protocol, this outright denial of climate change seems to have grown significantly over a relatively short period of time.
There are many theories as to why climate change denial has grown so rapidly. Some believe that fossil fuel giants, such as Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute, are spreading false and misleading information about the low environmental impact of fossil fuels. (The former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, is currently Trump’s Secretary of State.)A paper by Jean-Daniel Collomb in the European Journal of American Studiesnoted that fossil fuel companies often donate large amounts of money to politicians. In 2012, donations to Republican candidates were significantly higherthan donations to Democratic ones.Collomb also cited a studyby Peter J. Jacques, Riley E. Dunlap, and Mark Freeman that reported “of 141 environmentally-sceptic books written between 1972 and 2005, only 11 were not linked to corporate-funded conservative think tanks.”Additionally, Collomb suggested that while conservative opposition to climate change began because of economic policy, many Americans who are opposed to climate change now view increased environmental and economic regulation and the subsequent decrease in consumerism as a threat to “the American way of life.”
Just this year, we have already seen the signs of climate change in the form of record-breaking hurricanes in Florida and Texas and a barely-contained wildfire in Northern California.But change denial has far-reaching consequences that impact more than just the United States.In June 2017, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, which then-President Obama signed in 2015.The Paris Climate Agreement called to limit the global temperature increase for this century under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement is a significant blow to worldwide efforts to curb climate change. Scientists estimate that a global temperature increase of another mere 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit may cause “runaway climate change”, leading to irreversible consequences.
As of right now, the U.S. is the second-largest contributor to pollution in the world. If we expect to leave behind a clean and sustainable Earth for future generations, we must accept climate change as a grave reality. If the Trump administration continues to deny climate change and prevent the EPA from implementing environmentally sound policies, the effects of global warming and climate change will certainly become even more pronounced. Only time will tell if the EPA will one day return to its original purpose of protecting the environment. If it does not, we run the risk of causing climate change that can’t be stopped.
Sonia Mahajan is a Columbia College freshman studying sustainable development and political science. She is a staff writer for the Columbia Science Review.