UW-Madison scientists criticize Trump’s withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement
In a controversial decision that sparked national protests, President Donald Trump officially withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord Wednesday. The decision comes months after working to dismantle multiple Obama administration climate change efforts including the Clean Power Plan and other EPA regulations on coal and oil.
The Paris Climate Accord, also known as the Paris Agreement, is a global initiative aiming to regulate and combat greenhouse gas emissions and other factors that lead to global warming. The treaty was signed by former President Barack Obama and the leaders of approximately 190 other countries in November 2015.
Scientists at UW-Madison have come forward with responses to the U.S.’s withdrawal. Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department Chair Jonathan Martin, a specialist in weather systems, disagrees with Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and said he believes climate change is a problem that cannot be addressed, let alone solved, unless there is a global effort.
“When you pull out of this challenge, in a country as great and as vast and as ingenious and creative as the U.S., what gets harmed are the important innovations which will have otherwise led the entire world to a cleaner energy future,” Martin said.
Martin said that as both an American citizen and a scientist, it is hard for him to comprehend the literal and symbolic consequences of the president’s actions.
“As scientists, we are out of the limelight; we don’t get celebrity out of the work we do. We just get a sense of satisfaction for solving mysteries of nature,” Martin said. “Very occasionally that hard work trickles into public policy, so it’s a slap in the face from someone who clearly knows nothing about what he is doing.”
Dan Vimont, a UW-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and co-director of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, said he is concerned about the nation’s departure from the initiative. Vimont is worried that other countries will back out of the agreement.
“It’s tough to gauge the effect on the amount of warming we’ll experience, because it’s hard to know if other countries will continue to move forward,” Vimont said in an email. “The most important effect of President Trump’s decision is the signal that he is sending the rest of the world: that the U.S. is not interested in helping reduce the amount of climate change that our planet will experience.”Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter