President-elect Donald Trump picked Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma's Attorney General, last week to run the Environmental Protection Agency, a decision that's raised concerns from the scientific community because of Pruitt's stated views on issues like climate change. Trump himself has said he has doubts about the validity of man-made climate change, an attitude that's also held by a number of his trusted advisors and Cabinet appointments.
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Given that, more than 800 Earth scientists and energy experts, including 71 from Colorado, recently sent a letter to Trump, urging him to take six crucial steps to address climate change. One of the signers was Alan Townsend, an ecologist and associate vice-chancellor for research at the University of Colorado Boulder.
While Townsend says he's hopeful the letter will solicit a positive response from the incoming administration, he adds that scientists also need to change their thinking regarding the approach to environmental issues. As an example, he said research needs to move away from pure academia and begin incorporating the people who are directly affected into discussions of the issues and how to resolve problems.
Townsend spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.
Read the letter from scientists to President-elect Trump:
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 safety. 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:
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 so. We urge you to decide if you want your Presidency to be defined by denial and disaster, or acceptance and action.