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A Just and Sustainable Climate for All
In the wake of President Trump’s June 1, 2017 declaration that the US will exit from the 2015 Paris accord, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) re-affirms our position embodied in our 2015 Statement on Humanity and Climate Change and Task Force Report. A rich body of anthropological knowledge identifies the global threats that climate change poses to all aspects of human life, including our health, homes, livelihoods, and cultures, as well as our physical environment. Threats of this magnitude affect our global stability as well as our collective sense of cultural identity, our well-being, and our national security.
We regard the President’s decision as an irresponsible abandonment of American involvement in the global community in the face of indisputable scientific evidence. In announcing his decision to withdraw, the President and his advisors have relied on specious reasoning to support inaccurate claims about the agreement’s harm to the US economy. They have overlooked the benefits that are coming from innovative technologies and new energy sectors. In invoking the notion of “fairness,” suggesting that the US was somehow taken advantage of, they have ignored the fact that the US commitments were thoughtfully offered by the US government under the previous administration.
Anthropological scholarship tells us that global climate change is a present reality, which intensifies underlying problems —poverty and economic disparities, food and water security, and armed conflict — heightening these issues to the point of widespread crisis. Lessons from the past are accurately predicting our contemporary challenges, telling us that climate change will accelerate migration, destabilize communities and nations, and exacerbate the spread of infectious diseases. Our scholarship tells us we can expect that the first- and second-order effects of climate change will fall unevenly and with particular weight on the most vulnerable, heightening the need for public funds to pay for emergency response and recovery. What’s “fair” about that?
The situation is not hopeless, and AAA remains firmly committed to advancing our collective understanding of ways that will prove effective in intervening to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to changes that have already been set in motion. The Association recognizes that we live in a highly connected world. We call on scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers everywhere to live up to our collective responsibility to ensure a just and sustainable future, and climate, for all.
Edward Liebow, Executive Director
Alisse Waterston, President
Alex Barker, President-Elect
Shirley Fiske, Chair, Global Climate Change Task Force