President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly denied climate change. In 2012, he tweeted that the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” His pick to lead the transition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Myron Ebell, is also a climate denier and was recently featured in a campaign labeling him a “climate criminal.”
That is making some people concerned, including the mayors of 37 small and large American cities who wrote a letter to Trump on the topic.
In the open letter published last week on Medium, they asked the man who will take office in January to partner with them “to clean our air, strengthen our economy, and ensure that our children inherit a nation healthier and better prepared for the future than it is today.”
Representing nearly 31 million Americans “in both blue and red states,” the city leaders joined together in the U.S. Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda (MNCAA) to address the “greatest challenge of our time, climate change.”
Each of these mayors’ cities is committed to “ambitious targets” to tackle climate change, which include greenhouse gas emissions reductions, they noted in their letter. The mayors also pointed out that American voters approved over $200 billion in local measures, “funded by their own local tax dollars, to improve quality of life and reduce carbon pollution.”
For example, 70 percent of voters in Los Angeles County approved a $120 billion “commitment to public transit,” the mayors wrote. Seattle voters approved transit investments of $54 billion, and Austin voters approved a $720 million mobility bond. All three cities’ mayors signed the open letter to Trump.
Last week, Donald Trump discussed climate change with the New York Times. “I have an open mind to it,” he told Times pubilsher Arthuer Sulzberger Jr. and opinion columnist Thomas Friedman. He further claimed his administration is “going to look very carefully” at climate change. He admitted that there is “something” to climate change but said taking action “depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.” Jonathan Chait of New York magazine later characterized Trump’s comments to the Times as creating a portrait “of almost complete ignorance.”
We do know this: NASA will not be doing climate change research under Trump. As the Guardian reported this week, “NASA’s earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor exploration of deep space.” And that could mean NASA’s research on things like “temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena” could cease, at least until Trump is out of office, the paper reported.
While Trump has an “open mind” about climate change, the majority of climate experts are convinced it is happening and is human-induced. Or as the Union of Concerned Scientists states: “There is now an overwhelming scientific consensus” on climate change. The organization compiled statements from experts on climate change to make its point. Here are two:
- The American Meteorological Society stated in 2007 that “strong observational evidence and results from modeling studies indicate that, at least over the last 50 years, human activities are a major contributor to climate change.”
- “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level,” the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated in 2007.
What president-elect Trump needs to understand is that climate change is not only real, but it is one of the biggest threats humanity faces. Whether he will remains to be seen. We can only hope the words of these mayors will penetrate. In the meantime, American cities and businesses will continue to lead the way in climate action.
Image credit: Flickr/Downtown Los Angeles