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Flames from a flaring pit are seen near a well in the Bakken Oil Field in California. (Photo: Orjan F. Ellingvag/Corbis via Getty Images)

To Avert 'Uncontrollable Climate Chaos,' Scientists Tell Biden to Stop Backing Fossil Fuels

"When scientists across the U.S. are imploring the president to get the country off fossil fuels, it's time to listen."

Andrea Germanos

With an open letter expressing "the utmost alarm about the state of our climate system," over 330 scientists on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and swiftly put an end to a fossil fuel-based energy system.

"When scientists across the U.S. are imploring the president to get the country off fossil fuels," said Dr. Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, "it's time to listen."

"U.S. scientists are done speaking calmly in the face of inaction."

The letter—an effort organized by biologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber and climate scientist Dr. Peter Kalmus along with advocacy groups Center for Biological Diversity and Food & Water Watch—frames the current moment as a "time of peril" that must be met with "emergency action."

Other initial signatories include Dr. Robert Bullard, known as the father of environmental justice, and climate scientist Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

A three-step action plan is presented in the letter, beginning with a full ban on any new fossil fuel leasing and extraction on public lands and waters; no future permits for related infrastructure; and ending fossil fuel exports and subsidies.

Biden must also declare a climate emergency, the letter says, through which a chunk of the nation's vast military spending would instead be directed to fund renewable energy projects and the crude oil export ban would be reinstated.

As a third key step, the president needs to reject fossil fuel industry schemes, such as carbon capture and storage, that the scientists frame as "delay tactics" that ultimately "impede the rapid transition to renewable energy."

The first two in the trio of demands mirror those set out by the People Vs. Fossil Fuels mobilization, which is set to kick off next week.

"U.S. scientists are done speaking calmly in the face of inaction," Steingraber said in a statement in which she expressed solidarity with the upcoming mobilization.

She also urged the president to follow through on a key campaign vow that his support for pipelines like the Dakota Access and Line 3 has betrayed.

"President Biden," said Steingraber, "listening to science means acting on science. It means stopping new fossil fuel projects, opposing industry delay tactics, and declaring a national climate emergency."

The scientists warned that "our chances for avoiding irreversible and uncontrollable climate chaos diminish daily."

"We implore you, on behalf of and for the love of all life on Earth," they added, "to respond to the greatest threat ever to face our species and lead the transition away from fossil fuels that humanity desperately needs."


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