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The pressure is building on President-elect Donald Trump to take action against climate change.
This month, over 2,300 scientists signed a letter to Congress and Trump appealing for his administration to take on urgent environmental issues.
Signed by 22 Nobel Prize winners, the letter requests that the integrity of scientific evidence be respected and preserved by the incoming administration, while scientists themselves be allowed to carry out their work “without political or private-sector interference” and “without fear of reprisal or retaliation.”
The action underlines a prevalent anxiety within the scientific and activist communities that Trump’s government will stump years of climate change progress, and their fears are not without cause. During the election, Trump called global warming and the science on it a “bunch of bunk.” On the campaign trail, he vowed to act on that conviction by eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, undoing President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement that lays the groundwork for a global reduction in greenhouse emissions believed to contribute to climate change.
The formality of last week’s open letter was then followed by a face-to-face meeting that few would have conceived possible pre-election, as climate change activist and former Vice President Al Gore sat down with Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump on Monday.
In what Gore described as “a sincere search for areas of common ground,” the three discussed climate and environmental policy—an area of interest to Ivanka, who is serving as an adviser on her father’s transition team.
“I had a lengthy and very productive session. …” Gore told reporters. “… I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued, and I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Ivanka Trump is perceived as more progressive than her father, with at least an ear for liberal causes and the ability to act as a tempering force to Trump’s right-wing policies. It’s not known what role she or her siblings will play in the government, but her influence is the hope of other high-profile environmentalists like Leonardo DiCaprio, who had personally made sure that she received a copy of his recent climate change documentary Before The Flood.
To accompany the letter, members of the scientific community are also asking Americans to sign a Change.org petition and promote the hashtag #ActOnClimate.
Whether Trump, who famously called climate a Chinese conspiracy, is willing to backtrack on some of his most outrageous policy promises remains to be seen. However, it’s clear that environmentalists remain cautiously hopeful and fervently proactive in appealing to the president-elect’s reason.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.