In the past week since the election, President-elect Donald Trump has begun to form his administration in the White House and other governmental agencies, with a promise to change establishment politics in Washington, D.C. However, his appointments thus far have been a source of serious concern. Specifically, Trump has chosen climate change denier Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, as the leader of the transition team responsible for environmental and energy policy. In this position, Ebell will help determine leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as draft the Trump administration’s energy initiatives.
As students who will be inheriting a future shaped by today’s leaders, we must not sit idly by and watch Trump allow a climate change denier to shape environmental policy for the next four years. Everyone has a stake in the future of this planet, and students should do their part in combatting factually incorrect views through activism, organization and political participation.
Ebell’s appointment in the Trump administration is troubling, because he is a man who has consistently ignored the facts concerning climate change and its effects on the world. Last year, he said that the consensus of 97 percent of scientists believing in climate change is “phony” and “not based on science.” He also called Pope Francis’ encyclical addressing the issues of climate change as “scientifically ill-informed.” Ebell has said all this, despite having no scientific background himself.
Every person alive today will have to deal with the long-term effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, intense droughts and more extreme weather. However, students at Georgetown possess the ability to raise concerns about Ebell’s appointment and advocate for Trump to choose someone who is actually qualified to work toward a better environmental future for all.
Since the news of Ebell’s appointment broke last week, a group on campus called the Students for Climate Security has begun organizing opposition against Ebell. Started by government professor Andrew Bennett and accessible through Facebook, the group is currently organizing petitions, protests and phone banks to broadcast student voices to a wider population. We encourage our student body to sign the petition circulated by SCS that calls for Trump to remove Ebell from his transition team and not nominate climate change deniers to his administration; by signing the petition, students can demonstrate their opposition to a climate change denier being responsible for ensuring climate change’s effects can be mitigated.
Today, Bennett and SCS are organizing a protest that will call for Ebell to be removed from his position. Beyond this, students should not hesitate to call their congressional representatives about their concerns with the appointment. Contrary to what the past election cycle may have suggested, our elected officials do not just serve those belonging to one party — they serve all citizens equally. Therefore, to openly voice one’s concerns over climate policy would be an exercise in practicing this country’s democratic ideals. Congress has the final power to approve whomever the president picks to lead the EPA, and representatives should be
aware of what could happen if a climate change denier is chosen.
The issue of climate change is one of national and international importance. It affects every single person, no matter their race, creed, ethnicity or political beliefs. Trump should understand the value in having a team that respects facts and the consensus of scientists around the world. Through activism, students both on this campus and beyond can make their voices heard and tell leaders that climate change deniers have no place in drafting environmental policy.
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