SAN FRANCISCO – Dozens of prominent climate scientists, Indigenous leaders, and frontline community groups rallied today outside of the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual conference, championing the role of climate science research and evidence-based climate policy in the face of threats from the incoming administration and Congress.
President-elect Donald Trump infamously claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax, and has packed his cabinet with climate change deniers with close ties to fossil fuel interests, including industry mouthpiece Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump also picked Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Trump’s transition team has circulated a questionnaire seeking Department of Energy employees’ views on climate change, an unprecedented move that has been compared to a “witch hunt.”
Momentum to speak out against the war on science has been growing in the scientific community, in the face of attempts to intimidate academics and undermine freedom of inquiry. The rally is a notable escalation by scientists who have signed petitions, written open letters (here and here), and organized colleagues to take action in the wake of the election.
The AGU is the world’s largest association of Earth scientists. An estimated 26,000 scientists are in attendance at this first major convening of climate scientists since the election. Indigenous and frontline communities – groups that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – joined AGU member scientists in standing up for science.
Speakers at the rally affirmed that:
* Climate change is real, human-caused, and urgent threat.
* We must uphold the United States’ commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement.
* We must protect scientific integrity in policymaking.
* We must protect government scientists from censorship or suppression.
* We must reduce carbon pollution and U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
* We can make the U.S. a clean energy leader and champion the just transition to a new energy era that works for all of us.
Speakers also called for increased vigilance by the AGU and other scientific institutions to preserve the integrity of science by cutting financial ties with Exxon, Chevron, and other fossil fuel companies that spread disinformation about climate change.
AGU member scientists organized the rally in coordination with ClimateTruth.org, The Natural History Museum and community leaders.
The rally to Stand Up for Science featured leading climate scientists, including Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University, thought leaders, including Naomi Oreskes from Harvard University, youth leaders, including high school Fellow James Coleman from Alliance for Climate Education, and Indigenous and environmental justice leaders.
Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University
“We are at a critical juncture in the road forward. In the aftermath of the election, many of the policy successes of the past few years in dealing with the threat of human-caused climate change are suddenly called into question, as is support for the basic science necessary to monitor, understand, and address that threat. Now more than ever it is critical that scientists step forward and make sure their voices are heard, not just for the sake of scientific research, but for the sake of the very planet itself.”
Peter Frumhoff, Director of Science and Policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists
“If there were ever a moment for the scientific community to stand up and demand the administration appoint people who respect and don’t misrepresent science, now is the time. We have the responsibility to ensure scientific evidence informs policy, and to call on the Senate to only approve appointments of people who have a clear record of standing up for science. Based on his record of climate science denial, Scott Pruitt is an unacceptable choice to lead the EPA. And ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, nominated for Secretary of State, leads a company with a disturbing decades-long track record of sowing doubt on climate science.”
Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director at Amazon Watch
“The science is clear. Climate change is human induced and to avert climate chaos, we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. To do this, we need to stand with science, Indigenous, and frontline communities from Standing Rock to the Kichwa of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon who are defending rights and sacred territories from destruction. They are defending water resources and the most biologically diverse tropical rainforests in the world so that we all have a future to look forward to.”
Dr. Kim Cobb, ADVANCE Professor and Georgia Power Chair, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology
“This rally is a call to action for scientists to come together in defense of climate science as it comes under withering attack. For far too long, most scientists have operated under the assumption that the generation of indisputable facts and data is the best defense against groundless attacks on science and its findings. The costs of that approach are growing clearer by the day, literally. By rising up together in defense of science, from this day forward, scientists truly can shape the course of history.”
Andrés Soto, Richmond Community Organizer at Communities for a Better Environment
“Communities for a Better Environment has been using science to inform our environmental justice struggles for more than three decades. In Richmond, Chevron has repeatedly misrepresented science to confuse regulators and lie to the community about the risks associated with the Richmond Chevron refinery, as well as corrupting the local political process with their millions of dollars in campaign contributions. As a frontline community in industrial pollution and climate change, we need leaders who respect scientific integrity and know how to apply it to policy.”
James Coleman, high school student fellow with Alliance for Climate Education
“Countless people, including youth like me, are being misled about the threats of climate change every day. It is our collective responsibility, each and every one of us, to inform the public about the undeniable truth about climate change so my generation has a chance at a safe climate future.”