This morning the Boston Globe reported that MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences wrote a letter to President Trump strongly condemning MIT Professor Richard Lindzen's views on climate change. Lindzen has long been known as a "climate denier" and had recently written to Trump (along with 300 scientists and non-scientists) urging him to withdraw the US from the United Nations Paris climate accord. In addition, he added his beliefs regarding carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, including the statement, There is clear evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful to food crops and other plants that nourish all life. It is plant food, not poison.
To the rest of the MIT EAPS Department, Lindzen's letter could not be ignored; they wrote; The risks to the Earth system associated with increasing levels of carbon dioxide are almost universally agreed by climate scientists to be real ones. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and increases in extreme flooding and drought, all with serious consequences for mankind....We owe it to future generations to remain engaged with the international community to seek the widest possible efforts to understand and mitigate those threats.
After Trump's immigration ruling in late January, MIT President Reif wrote a strongly worded, public letter saying that the executive order was a "stunning violation of our deepest American values...of...fairness, equality, openness, generosity, courage." When President Reif issued this letter, I was encouraged. We here at Radius have been working for decades to encourage the MIT community to consider these values and apply these to their research and their lives. Reading about the EAPS Department's letter this morning was also encouraging.
There are strong stirrings on campus; people leaving their labs and engaging in the wider world and taking a stance--students, faculty and staff. Spurred by the dislocations in our society brought on by the new adminstration in Washington, members of the MIT community have come together to create a Day of Engagement, Day of Action on April 18. The day will be devoted to learning, discussing and planning for action to deal with the economic, political and social challenges that we face. As the day gains structure, we will be getting the word out. We hope to see you then!