Young People’s Voices: On Trump, Climate Change and D-Day

Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voices project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – Zoe Beard, student at Havant and South Downs College, investigates Donald Trump’s views on climate change, what rising sea levels mean for Portsea Island, and how this could affect future D-Day celebrations in the future.

After President Donald Trump’s visit to Portsmouth in June for the D-Day celebrations, I thought I’d write about Mr Trump’s views on climate change. Although his opinions are constantly changing (like our climate), the most controversial statement made by the US president was: ‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Later this was claimed to be a joke by Trump, but whatever his sense of humour, it is generally accepted that he is not a supporter of climate change.

But why have his opinions changed so much over the years? It was only 10 years ago in 2009 he was saying: ‘If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.

Starting on 5th June, the exciting plans for the 75th anniversary of D-Day included, according to The News: a ‘Sunset Concert for Heroes – a free concert, featuring performances from the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir, the D-Day Darlings and the Royal Marines Association Concert Band’, as well as a fireworks display in Gunwharf to round off a week of celebrations.

According to the Portsmouth D-Day Museum, D-Day: ‘(w)as the largest invasion ever assembled, before or since, (and) landed 156,000 Allied troops by sea and air on five beachheads in Normandy, France’. So it’s very important that we remember those who died and commemorate this day.

But the question we should have all been asking when we celebrated 75 years of this historical landmark is, will Portsmouth actually be able to host future events with sea levels rising by the metre and floods damaging coastal areas? Or will other cities in the UK have to host the celebrations?

According to Climate UK: ‘About 25 percent of properties in the South East are at risk of some kind of flooding’, and ‘The built environment and infrastructure are already vulnerable to extreme weather such as flooding, storms, heatwaves, and droughts’. 

This map shows what Portsmouth would be like if the temperature rose by 2 °C.


It’s pretty shocking, isn’t it?

This map was developed by an organisation called Climate Central and the map is called Surging Seas. It allows people to view their town and see what a temperature increase would do to sea levels.

According to The News, Portsmouth City Council are currently developing tactics to tackle fast rising sea levels. If temperatures rise by 2°C, according to Climate Central, Portsea Island will become flooded and intruding waters will also affect residential areas such as Goldsmith Avenue and Copnor Road. Even worse, busy areas such as Gunwharf Quays and Milton will be completely destroyed by the rising seas.

According to the Climate Action Tracker: ‘At current rates the world’s temperature is set to rise to 3.8C by 2100′. This creates further issues for Portsmouth. Furthermore, if the temperature were to rise by 4 °C, nearly all of Portsmouth will be submerged, only a few neighbourhoods would survive, according to Climate Central.

I know what you’re thinking: How can we be sure that this is accurate information? and how do  we know that this is not scaremongering?

On their website, Climate Central state that their map ‘strives to provide accurate, clear and granular information about sea level rise and coastal flood hazards both locally and globally, today and tomorrow. Anchored in rigorous primary research, our work distinguishes itself by its user-friendly maps and tools, extensive datasets, and high-quality visual presentation. The program dedicates its efforts to helping citizens, communities, businesses, organisations, and governments at every level to understand the consequences of different carbon pathways and to navigate the shifting waters of our warming world.’

So we know from this information that the map and tracker work to a high level of accuracy.

So what have we learnt?

Firstly, we know that Donald Trump’s climate change views are always changing. Secondly, if we don’t do something permanently about climate change, Portsmouth and other parts of the world will become flooded.

So whether you believe that climate change is happening or not, we need to do something about our habits. Before it’s too late.


Further Reading

Climate Central, Surging Seas

The D-Day Story Portsmouth, What is D-Day?

Climate UK, 2012, A Summary of Climate Change Risks for South East England

Committee on Climate Change, 2018, Managing the coast in a changing climate

CNN Business, 2019, Trump-appointed energy official: Climate change is real and we must lower carbon emissions 

Pacific Standard, 2019, Why climate experts are worried about Trump’s new panel on climate change and national security

The Young People’s Voices project aims to provide young people with a platform to share their opinions, report on topics that affect them and advance standards of literacy. We worked with students from St Edmunds School and Havant and South Downs College to investigate and write their own stories, in a variety of styles and mediums – from creative memoir and opinion pieces to their own investigations. All their work will be published on S&C throughout July, and all participants have the chance to enter their work into a competition to read their story on the Spoken Word Stage at the 2019 Victorious Festival. You will find all the Young People’s Voices stories here as we publish them.


This project is supported by the University of Portsmouth, with thanks to the teams in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). It was delivered by University of Portsmouth MSc and PhD researchers Maddie Wallace and Lauren Jones.