The scientific community was more involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election than perhaps any other election in the past. This was likely due to the fact that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee who won the election, is an admitted climate change denier. And given the unprecedented rate at which the planet is warming, scientists decided to play an active role in the election.
In September, 375 scientists urged U.S. citizens to vote against Trump because of his refusal to accept science. In late November, more than 2,300 scientists warned Trump that they would fight any efforts by his administration to deny climate change or to expand fossil fuel production.
And now this week more than 800 scientists and energy experts have signed onto yet another open letter to President-elect Trump, urging him not only to accept the scientific consensus on manmade climate change, but also to take the necessary steps to fight its impacts.
The letter, published online at Scientific American on December 6, lays out six steps that the incoming president must take in order for America to be a true world leader on the issue of climate change.
Those steps include: Making America a leader in clean energy, reducing carbon emissions and fossil fuel exploitation, enhancing America’s disaster preparedness, allowing scientists to have a seat at the table for policy discussions, upholding the Paris climate agreement, and, most importantly, publicly acknowledging that climate change is real.
These goals are not only achievable, but they are supported by a majority of the American public, military experts, and companies outside of the energy sector.
This letter came just one day after the president-elect and his daughter, Ivanka, met with former Vice President (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Al Gore where they discussed the issue of climate change in relation to policy. While details of that discussion have not yet been made public, Gore did describe the meeting as “extremely interesting,” which doesn’t sound very optimistic.
Instead, Trump continued to show his true attitude toward climate change by going on to nominate climate denier and friend of the fossil fuel industry, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump’s EPA “landing team” is also loaded with climate science deniers and a lawyer known for harrassing climate scientists and EPA administrators.
The scientific community understands something that Trump clearly is having trouble with, and that is that the climate is warming at an alarming rate, and that the death toll from climate change is approaching half a million people a year worldwide.
Even Dr. James Hansen, credited as one of the first people to bring climate change to the public’s attention, has said that the Paris climate accord, if it doesn’t become more ambitious, is too little, too late to address climate change. That means four years of inaction under a Trump administration would have absolutely nightmarish consequences for the planet as we know it.
Unfortunately, a billionaire energy investor and “policy experts” from conservative think tanks, rather than scientists, seem to have Trump’s ear on this issue. And his White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, has already confirmed to Fox News that climate science denial will be the reigning principle for the next four years.
Main image: Donald Trump speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY–SA 2.0