National Opinions

President Trump, please keep promises America made in Paris

A polar bear in Kaktovik, Alaska, Sept. 11, 2016 is roaming the town because the sea ice on which it relies for hunting seals is receding beyond reach.
A polar bear in Kaktovik, Alaska, Sept. 11, 2016 is roaming the town because the sea ice on which it relies for hunting seals is receding beyond reach. NYT

President Trump, we are calling on you, in the most urgent terms possible, to maintain our country’s commitment to meeting the greenhouse gas emission targets set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.

This agreement is the first of a series of steps required to avert substantial climate change. The Earth’s climate is entering a state that has not been experienced in human history. Continuing to produce greenhouse gases at current rates will have catastrophic, unstoppable consequences for our environment, our economy and our country.

Bold and decisive action may still avoid the worst scenarios, allow for adaptation to the changes, mitigate the damage, and bring new economic opportunities to our country. To this end, we ask that you ensure America’s place as the global leader on climate action.

With this letter, we aim to express the degree to which the scientists and intellectual leaders of our state, speaking for themselves and not on behalf of their respective employers, agree on the facts of climate change. Despite misleading portrayals, there is widespread consensus in the scientific and academic communities that human-caused climate change is real, with consequences that are already being felt.

The science of how greenhouse gases trap heat is unimpeachable. Climate records are being broken as human-caused changes add onto natural oscillations (e.g., El Niño) in the climate system. Fossil records from pre-human times show much higher sea levels and a reorganization of vegetation patterns when greenhouse gases were higher and Earth’s climate was much warmer than today. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere set in motion regional variations in weather, weather extremes, the loss of major ice sheets, and declining biodiversity that has been associated with mass extinctions in Earth’s past.

Scientists have warned for decades of the dangers of overreliance on fossil fuels. The world has been slow to respond and, as a result, we run an increasing risk of major damage to America’s economy and security.

We have had an unusually large number of serious natural disasters in the past decade that are in line with climate change predictions. The Southeast and West suffer from increasing droughts. Miami floods at high-tide as sea levels rise. Major cities on the Eastern and Gulf coasts regularly suffer major damage from violent weather. Western forests die because winters are insufficiently cold to prevent insect infestation of drought-stressed trees.

Left unchecked, the frequency and severity of these climate change events will increase with time, as will their economic impact. To secure and conserve our way of life, our economy, and our environment, we need immediate action.

The United States has a unique opportunity to lead the world in developing innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By investing in and incentivizing clean energy and carbon sequestration technologies, we position ourselves to be the economic and political leaders of the 21st century. To do otherwise cedes these opportunities to others and undermines our national security, food security, water security, and the future of our children and grandchildren.

We ask you to maintain and increase our country’s commitment to taking action on climate change, beginning with the current Paris Climate Agreement.

Editor’s note

This letter represents the personal views of 2,344 California university faculty members.

Those from UC Merced who signed were: Kathleen Hull (anthropology), Holley Moyes (cognitive and information sciences), Linda Ann Rebhun (anthropology), Robin DeLugan (anthropology), Healther Jarrell (anthropology) and Christina Torres-Rouff (anthropology), Susanne Sindi (applied mathematics), Boaz Ilan (applied mathematics), Aditi Chandra (art history), Tonya Lopez-Craig (art studies), Anne Kelley (chemistry), Roger Bales (civil and environmental engineering), J. Elliott Campbell (civil and environmental engineering), Thomas Harmon (civil and environmental engineering), David Noelle (cognitive and information sciences), Teenie Matlock (cognitive and information sciences), Carolyn Dicey Jennings (cognitive and information sciences), Katie Wong de Geitz (anthroposophical medicine), Stefano Carpin (computer science), Gregory Wright (economics), Glynis Gawn (economics), Jesus Sandoval-Hernandez (economics), Lilian Davila (engineering), LeRoy Westerling (engineering), Jeffrey Jenkins (engineering), Shawn Newsam (engineering), Wolfang Rogge (engineering), Po-Ya Chuang (engineering), Martha Conklin (engineering), Jan Goggans (English), Mark Sistrom (evolution and ecology), Susan Amussen (history), Sholeh Quinn (history), Ruth Mostern (history), Ma Vang (ethnic studies), Anne Zanzucchi (humanities), Arturo Arias (humanities), Kit Myers (humanities), Ignacio Lopez-Calvo (humanities), Jan Wallander, Michael Beman (environmental science), Asmeret Asefaw Berhe (environmental systems), Emily Jane McTavish (environmental sciences), Sylvain Masclin (environmental sciences), Peggy O’Day (environmental sciences), Jessica Blois (environmental sciences), Teamrat Ghezzehei (environmental sciences), Justin Yeakel (environmental sciences), Grant Nebel (mathematics), Michael Modest (aeronautical engineering), Ala Qattawi (aeronautical engineering), Stephanie Woo (cellular biology), Maria Zoghbi (cellular biology), Zhong Wang (cellular biology), Ramen Saha (cellular biology), Xuecai Ge (cellular biology), David Ardell (cellular biology), Aubrey Byerly (music), Peter Vanderschraaf (philosophy), Kevin Mitchell (physics), Carrie Menke (physics), David Strubble (physics), Chien Chih-Chun (physics) of UC Merced, Emily Ritter (political science), Jitske Tiemensma (psychology), Eric Walle (psychology), Matthew Zawadzki (psychology), Heather Bortfeld (psychology), Meaghan Altman (psychology), Linda Cameron (psychology), Deborah Wiebe (psychology), Rose Scott (psychology), Alexander Khislavsky (psychology), Nancy Burke (public health), Susana Ramirez (public health), Andrea Joyce (public health), Sidra Goldman-Mellor (public health), Mark Aldenderfer (humanities), Whitney Pirtle (sociology), Paul Almeida (sociology), Irenee Beattie (sociology), Laura Hamilton (sociology), Tanya Golash-Boza (sociology), Sharla Alegria (sociology), Matthew Jendian (sociology), Zulema Valdez (sociology), Fernando Cortés Chirino (sociology), Nella Van Dyke (sociology), Alfonso Gonzalez (Spanish), Cristián Ricci (Spanish), Carles Ferrando Valero (Spanish), Jill Robbins (Spanish), Nicola Lercari (world heritage).

From CSU Stanislaus: Horacio Ferriz (physics and geology), Wing Howard To (physics).