Davos WEF

Davos WEF

We simply provide evidence: Climate scientists reject Trump's 'prophets of doom' criticism

Key Points
  • In a keynote address to participants of the annual conference earlier this week, Trump said that "to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom."
  • An intensifying climate crisis is top of the agenda at the World Economic Forum.
  • The event comes after a 12-month period which saw the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures and wildfires from the U.S. to the Amazon to Australia.
President Donald Trump gestures as Director-General of World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo looks on during a news conference at the 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

DAVOS, Switzerland — Climate scientists at the World Economic Forum have hit back at President Donald Trump, saying their role is simply to provide evidence of the climate emergency.

In a keynote address to participants of the annual conference earlier this week, Trump said that "to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom."

The U.S. president did not name anyone directly during his speech, but he did encourage those in attendance to ignore environmental "alarmists" and their "predictions of the apocalypse."

An intensifying climate crisis is top of the agenda at the forum, which takes place in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos.

The event, which is often criticized for being out of touch with reality, has said it aims to assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress toward the Paris Agreement and the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals.

"Some could call climate scientists 'prophets of doom,'" Gail Whiteman, founder of Arctic Basecamp and director of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business at Lancaster University, said during a panel session on Wednesday.

"I don't agree with that — I think we just simply give the evidence."

The forum comes after a 12-month period which saw the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures and wildfires from the U.S. to the Amazon to Australia.

The world 'is currently on fire'

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was in the audience for Trump's address on Tuesday, scolded political inaction over climate change this week.

"I've been warned that telling people to panic about the climate crisis is a very dangerous thing to do. But don't worry, it's fine. Trust me, I've done this before and I can assure you it doesn't lead to anything," Thunberg said on Tuesday.

The world "in case you hadn't noticed, is currently on fire," she added.

Thunberg was catapulted to fame for skipping school every Friday to hold a weekly vigil outside the Swedish Parliament in 2018.

It sparked an international wave of school strikes — also known as "Fridays for Future" — with millions of children taking part in rallies around the world.

The scientific facts are so important when it comes to getting the solutions together.
Jeremy Wilkinson
Sea-ice physicist at British Antarctic Survey

"I think as a scientist, you are always optimistic but I'm even more optimistic now because of the youth movement that has happened over the last 12 months," Jeremy Wilkinson, a sea-ice physicist at British Antarctic Survey, told CNBC earlier this week.

"I think that movement has really opened people's eyes to the climate crisis we've got."

"It's up to everyone. We have got to look at the CEOs, we have got to put together the science – the scientific facts are so important when it comes to getting the solutions together," Wilkinson said.

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