Open Letter from Scientists to President-Elect Trump on Climate Change – #ActOnClimate

Scientific American has an open letter that is addressed to Donald Trump. It specifically relates to Climate Change and hence for rather obvious reasons asks him to take six key steps to address climate change to help protect “America’s economy, national security, and public health and safety.”.

Everybody who has signed is a US based subject matter expert, and almost all of them hold a PhD in relevant disciplines.

The Letter itself

To President-elect Trump

We, the undersigned, urge you to take immediate and sustained action against human-caused climate change. We write as concerned individuals, united in recognizing that the science is unequivocal and America must respond.

Climate change threatens America’s economy, national security, and public health and safety1-4. Some communities are already experiencing its impacts, with low-income and minority groups disproportionately affected.

At this crucial juncture in human history, countries look to the United States to pick up the mantle of leadership: to take steps to strengthen, not weaken, this nation’s efforts to tackle this crisis. With the eyes of the world upon us, and amidst uncertainty and concern about how your administration will address this issue, we ask that you begin by taking the following steps upon taking office:

  1. Make America a clean energy leader. The vast majority of Americans – whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent – support renewable energy research and deployment5. Embrace the enormous economic opportunities of transitioning to an energy-efficient, low-carbon society6,7. Use part of your $1 trillion commitment to infrastructure development to expand democratized clean energy, boost U.S. competitiveness, and put America to work8. Since 2008, the cleantech industry has created one out of every 33 jobs in the United States. “Wind technician” is the fastest growing job category in America, and the solar industry has hired more veterans than any other sector9.
  2. Reduce carbon pollution and America’s dependence on fossil fuels. The majority of Americans are in favor of this5. Assure them that the policies helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions, curb air and water pollution, and accelerate clean energy growth, innovation, and jobs – such as the Clean Power Plan, renewable energy tax credits, and auto-efficiency standards – will stay in place. Continued funding and flexibility of federal agencies to address climate change, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, are key to achieving these goals.
  3. Enhance America’s climate preparedness and resilience. In the past 5 years alone, storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires caused over $250 billion in damages10. As climate change continues to increase the frequency and severity of these extreme events, so too grows the burden on all taxpayers to pay for disaster relief and recovery3. Help protect and strengthen America’s communities, economy, and natural resources by investing in modern, climate-resilient energy, transport, building, and water infrastructure.
  4. Publicly acknowledge that climate change is a real, human-caused, and urgent threat. If not, you will become the only government leader in the world to deny climate science11. Your position will be at odds with virtually all climate scientists, most economists, military experts, fossil fuel companies and other business leaders, and the two-thirds of Americans worried about this issue1,2,12-15.
  5. Protect scientific integrity in policymaking. During your campaign, you said that your “administration will ensure that there will be [scientific] transparency and accountability without political bias16.” Uphold these standards by appointing scientific advisors, Cabinet members, and federal agency leaders who respect and rely on science-based decision-making. This would exclude many of your Cabinet and transition team appointees to date, who deny the scientific realities of human-caused climate change17,18.
  6. Uphold America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. Reneging from this treaty – the product of 25 years of negotiations between almost every country on Earth – would undermine our best chance to avoid dangerous climate change. It would also poorly represent the American people, the majority of whom support US participation in the Paris Agreement19. The United States will lose its seat of influence at the international negotiating table, and will cede to China, the EU, and other countries its authority as a political, technological, and moral leader20.

You have the support of the majority of companies, military leaders, scientists, engineers, and citizens to respond to the threats posed by climate change by reducing carbon pollution and expanding clean energy. Many of America’s largest cities and states are already committed to doing so21-23. We urge you to decide if you want your Presidency to be defined by denial and disaster, or acceptance and action.


There is also a Public Petition

The release of this open letter is accompanied by a public petition, which can be signed by anybody at

A Few Thoughts

Doing nothing is really not an option.

Doing what Trump is proposing to do is not just nothing, but rather is worse than nothing. It is utterly crazy, and so there will be consequences for all of us.

Sadly, I don’t believe he will ever read this open letter. It is way too long, too many complicated words, even if they are great words, the very best words, words that will be like no other words. Even if drawn in crayon, it would still not cut it, because reading it would result in his eyes grazing over halfway through the first bullet point.

The petition itself dumbs it down and lists the six points as follows …

  1. Make America a clean energy leader.
  2. Reduce carbon pollution and America’s dependence on fossil fuels.
  3. Enhance America’s climate preparedness and resilience.
  4. Publicly acknowledge that climate change is a real, human-caused, and urgent threat.
  5. Protect scientific integrity in policymaking.
  6. Uphold America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.

… but even that will not be enough. He would get to perhaps point 3 and then become distracted and start thinking about Alec Baldwin.

As I’ve already said, doing nothing is not an option. Those that have signed have nothing to loose, and that is not simply because their funding is on the line, but because our civilisation is.

Al Gore and Trump

What might help is not simply a petition, but personal contact, because that is how Trump works. Al Gore paid him a friendly visit a few days ago, and that is perhaps the way to go when dealing with Trump. If you can get people whom he will respect up close to whisper in his ear then you have a possibility, a hope.

So how did that pan out?

It turns out that Ivanka initiated it. Commenting later, Mr Gore is quoted as saying …

“It’s no secret that Ivanka Trump is very committed to having a climate policy that makes sense for our country and for our world, and that was certainly evident in the conversation that I had with her,” he told Chris Hayes. “I appreciate the fact that she is very concerned about this.”

Will Ivanka Trump (and Al Gore) move the needle on climate change?

The truly frightening answer is: Who knows! but there rests the best hope, and so it would be nice to think so!

Being realistic about this … probably not.

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