Dear Donald Trump,

Dear President-Elect Trump,

I know you are a busy fellow now, between preparing to be President and accepting congratulations from your supporters and what not, and you probably have other things to attend to.  But I hope you might take a moment to hear two things from an earth scientist: climate change is a serious issue that we desperately need your administration to tackle, and prevention of a nuclear exchange is far more serious than bombing some far off city.

Some in your party claim that climate change is made-up, but you (or your campaign) said to that “Science is science and facts are facts.” Fact is, carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere, faster than almost any example we can find in the geologic record. Fact is, it is from us burning fossil fuels. Fact is, that increases the mean temperature of the planet. Fact is, this is a long, slow problem that, neglected, becomes impossible to reverse. Mr. President-Elect, you watch polls, so perhaps you’ve seen the poll showing most Americans are worried about climate change.  As you’ve confidently asserted your freedom from big donors who might keep you from doing the right thing, I hope you will see your way to making progress on addressing this. And I hope you will discourage your fellow Republicans from trying to defund climate change research.  Just because we don’t study it doesn’t mean it won’t hurt us or even kill us.

At times in this campaign, you have spoken rather casually about the spread of nuclear weapons, seeming to feel that there is no particular problem if many other countries have a nuclear arsenal. We don’t need more possible places where such war could erupt. These weapons are totally different from the drones and smart bombs and other devices used in conventional war; they can change the way the planet functions.  An all-out nuclear exchange would mimic the events that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Even a limited nuclear exchange between, say, Pakistan and India, could have global consequences.

So, President-Elect Trump, I implore you on these topics to take a moment to listen to the people whose life work has been to understand them. They are threats to the world of our children and grandchildren. There might be many topics on which you and I would disagree, and while many of them are important, I am no more an expert on those than you are. But on these two critical issues, as an earth scientist, I wish to share my concerns and ask you, when President of the United States and a global leader, to help make a better world for the generations that follow.


Craig Jones (aka the Grumpy Geophysicist)


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2 responses to “Dear Donald Trump,”

  1. geodoodler says :

    I appreciate your academic concerns but I find them totally lacking in wisdom. The argument really is not about whether the world is warming, it is really about what we can do about it. China just announced that it is going to make a 20% increase in the use of coal over the next few years in spite of what they promised at the Paris agreement. Most Asian countries that are poor and most central American central and south American countries that are poor are using whatever they can get for fuel. It is not feasible to think that we can control other countries in their desperate quest for energy. Our energies and monies are better spent preparing for the consequences of higher temperatures and higher sea levels.


    • cjonescu says :

      I beg to differ, and my concerns are far from academic. It is fair to have a discussion about what to do, it is not fair to pretend it isn’t happening or that we have no role to play. Spending endless time in Congress debating whether or not this is happening is delaying any discussion about what we do; you have already hopped over what passes for discussion in Congress today. It is almost certain we will have to deal with mitigation, but there is a real tradeoff that needs to be recognized: this is a classic “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” situation. Each BTU you can get from cleaner sources is a help down the road. We are beyond the point where it would save us from several expensive problems (already there is calm weather flooding of coastal areas from ongoing sea level rise), but bending carbon emissions down is crucial to avoid even more dire results. It takes nature about 80,000 years to fully return to equilibrium, judging from the record of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. My point is that sweeping all this under the rug–that, in fact, we will step back by propping up the coal industry by removing restrictions on mercury and other metal emissions–is damaging in the short and long run. While China is increasing coal, they are also increasing nuclear and solar and wind at rapid paces. We still have an underperforming economy that could be aided by a major initiative in building a less carbon-dependent infrastructure. There are studies showing that the costs of reducing carbon emissions are not remotely severe, but the costs of mitigation without any reduction in carbon emissions are staggering. Getting a 10s of meters sea level rise would force the removal of millions if not billions of people–this is not cheap. We could bear the costs of revenue-neutral carbon taxes (the conservative solution) or cap-and-trade (the somewhat older conservative solution) or we could even do the command economy move of simply regulating the total emissions of carbon (the classic socialist approach). Deciding on these trade offs is the discussion we need NOW; we need to move off of the foot-dragging denial of what the climate science shows clearly.


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