Trump’s Choices ‘Detrimental to the Planet and People,’ Environmental Sociologists Say

In a public statement, more than 420 professionals express concern and disappointment in President Trump's cabinet choices and environmental policies.

Many have taken issue with the climate deniers Donald Trump has nominated to his cabinet
Many people, now including a group of environmental sociologists, have taken issue with the climate deniers Donald Trump has nominated to his cabinet. Credit: Getty Images

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More than 420 sociologists have issued a public statement condemning President Donald Trump’s denial of man-made climate change and the anti-climate views of some of his cabinet nominees.

The signatories are all environmental sociologists, a discipline that studies the relationships between humans and the natural world. For many, climate change is a key focus of their work.

“As professional environmental sociologists who have dedicated our careers to the study of the interaction of social systems with ecosystems, we condemn President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and his nomination of a series of climate-denying anti-environmentalists to key cabinet positions,” the statement said.

This statement, released Friday afternoon, follows similar public declarations of support for continued American leadership on climate action by college and university leaders, the business and investor community, and others.

“There’s a rich body of sociological research, as well as from other social science disciplines, that show that the human consequences of climate change are incredibly significant,” as are the human causes of climate change, said Andrew Jorgenson, an environmental sociologist at Boston College and one of the organizers of the statement.

Jorgenson said the decisions being made about climate change in the United States and elsewhere “are the most important decisions…for the future of our species and our planet—and these decisions need to be based upon empirical reality.”

The researchers objected to five of Trump’s cabinet picks.

They wrote in the statement: “We find the stated positions and the historical actions of Donald Trump and his nominees for Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Agriculture, and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to be detrimental to the planet and people. These positions and actions clearly indicate that these individuals are unprepared to lead us through the environmental challenges we face as a nation and as a species.”

Jorgenson told InsideClimate News he expects more academics to add their name to the list in the coming days and weeks. But, he added, “There are folks who have been afraid to sign the letter,” including faculty with tenure, untenured faculty and doctoral students.

“That really speaks to this growing climate of fear in the scholarly and scientific communities that I think is incredibly unfortunate, very troubling and really goes against what it means to be a democracy,” he said.