Hello, Mr. President — About the Environment…
ESF students pen Earth Day ‘elevator speeches’ for Donald Trump
Posted April 2018
A few classrooms full of ESF students had a challenge: You've met the president in an elevator. What do you tell him about the environment? The result: 54 impassioned pleas on behalf of the planet.
In observance of Earth Day, the students in lecturer Tom McGrath's classes wrote brief "elevator speeches" to have at the ready if they happened to encounter President Donald Trump as a captive audience, however briefly. The most common theme in their speeches was urging Trump to take action to mitigate climate change, especially regarding the development of alternative energy sources such as solar power over coal and other fossil fuels.
"The majority of scientists say it (climate change) is caused by human activity and it should not even be a debate at this point. I respect what you believe but I hope within the next couple years you see the truth and try to do something to improve our climate," one student wrote. Several urged him to reconsider the decision to pull the United States from the Paris Agreement.
Some attempted to educate Trump about the value of science. "I just need to tell you that scientists are always in pursuit of the truth, we want what is best for our country and for humanity," one student wrote.
Others cited the value of the natural environment and called for its protection: "It is from our environment that we receive all that we have including food, clothing, building materials, water, technology, medicine, and even money," one student wrote. "If it is the environment that provides all that we need to survive, why do we choose to continue exploiting it?"
The elevator speeches came from students in EWP 220 Public Presentation Skills and EWP 420/620 Advanced Presentation Skills, taught by McGrath in ESF's Department of Environmental Studies' Writing Program.
"As current and future stewards and agents of change, students need to be environmental participants both inside and outside of academic walls," McGrath said. "At ESF, they gain the skills to communicate about environmental concerns with various audiences in concise, meaningful ways. It is incumbent on students to represent their story on a local, national and global stage. Students' educational experiences set them on this journey to what is possible."
ESF President Quentin Wheeler said the challenges such as this one help budding scientists learn how to keep the public informed about scientific knowledge.
"As society faces the realities of the biodiversity crisis, climate change, and other environmental challenges, it is vital that scientists be effective communicators, sharing the best available evidence. We all benefit when those most familiar with the strengths and limitations of scientific knowledge are also good storytellers capable of informing public understanding and discourse," he said.
The speeches touched on a wide range of subjects. Students urged Trump to be mindful of the health of Earth's oceans, pursue environmental justice, consider how a border wall with Mexico could affect wildlife and work to protect water quality. They expressed concerns about species extinction, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, waste reduction, wildfire management programs, pesticide use, deforestation, environmental justice and problems related to agriculture.
One student argued against offshore drilling, dotting her argument with statistics: "Did you know that in the BP oil spill alone, 4,768 animals died alongside the 4.9 million barrels of crude oil that seeped into the ocean? … I advise for the sake of our environment and our nation you revoke your proposal for offshore drilling."
A couple students appealed to Trump's experience in the business world and his wealth, saying he could invest in sustainable energy. One pointed out that a healthy environment is essential to the people who keep business running. "Your businesses use paper which comes from healthy trees, they have electricity and heat running throughout their buildings which come from burning fossil fuels, and the people within those buildings eat food which comes from the Earth," she wrote.
One student made climate change a personal issue for the president, predicting what could happen to Trump's Florida resort, Mar a Lago, if sea levels rise. "Because of an executive order you made in August, infrastructure to guard against flooding will not be created. Sea levels have been estimated to rise 10 feet by the year 2100. By that time, your whole golf resort will be underwater and forgotten about," she said.
Another got personal about recycling: "Do you know how important it is to recycle? There is so much waste on this planet and by doing small little things like recycling is key," he wrote. "Mr. Trump, can I ask you something? Do you recycle and would you consider starting today?"
A few students took the opportunity to reword Trump's campaign slogan. "I hope you will consider this advice as you continue to make America great," one student wrote. Another advised: "Make America green again." One called for protection of national monument lands, saying, "If you want America to be great again don't get rid of the things that already make it great."
And finally, "So, I ask you why not make the environment great again?"
ESF Students Make their Mark
- ESF Student Participates in SEA SemesterMary Zarba conducts research aimed at protecting rare coral wilderness
- ESF Student Among Delegation Attending Committee on World Food SecurityLindsay Eberhart to travel to Rome for World Food Day ceremony
- ESF Student Designed Bridge Judged Most InnovativeStudents competed in the 2019 bridge design competition
- 2019 Commencement: 'You Are My Family,' Student Speaker SaysESF celebrates 118th class of spring graduates
- ESF Student Studies Sargasso Sea EcosystemAndrew Meashaw participates in SEA Semester
- ESF Announces Graduation Weekend ScheduleReceptions, honor recognition ceremonies mark achievements
- ESF Student Completes First Year of Leadership Training in BioeconomyDaniel De Souza Pegoretti recognized as CABLE graduate
- ESF-SU Team Scores Win in DOE Solar DecathlonStudents prevail in mixed-use/multifamily division
- Student Organizations, Leaders RecognizedSOLAR award recipients announced
- Student Honored with Chancellor’s AwardMarissa Lathrop to receive prestigious honor
- ESF Students Earn Spot in ‘Storyfest’ FinalsFive projects featured in annual environmental storytelling competition
- Fulbright Scholar Picks ESF for Study of Genetic Engineering TechniquePh.D. student researches threat to valuable European chestnut tree
- ESF Students Return to PR to Help with Continuing Relief EffortsRelief and education projects keep students busy
- ESF Student Participates in SEA Semester ProgramAquatic and fisheries science major sets sail in Lesser Antilles
- ESF to Celebrate December CommencementThree alumni to be honored as graduates of distinction
- ESF Students Ride to Ribbons in Horse ShowSU Western Equestrian Team puts ESF riders through their paces
- 38 ESF Students to Attend Zero Waste ConferenceGCI, ESSO support participation at meeting in Philadelphia
- Waste not, want notGrant Received for 3D printer filament recycling, production pilot plant
- Landscape Architecture Students Celebrate PARK(ing) DayTransformation of parking spaces calls attention to need for urban greenspace
- ESF, Ichor Therapeutics Team Up to Combat Age-related Illness ESF graduate students to assist with research
- Society of American Foresters Plays Key Role in Student’s ESF ExperienceRecent grad Alexa Denhoff encourages students to join professional society
- ESF Student Wins at COINS Grand ChallengeAward recognizes innovation in construction management
- ESF Students Return from Puerto Rico Students joined with SUNY, NYS, non-profits organizations to help rebuild Puerto Rico
- Mortarboards Fly and Students Become AlumniClass of 2018 celebrates achievements
- Chemistry Student Wins AwardJordan Pitt recognized by the American Chemical Society
- 14 ESF Students Set for Volunteer Work in Puerto RicoCollege joins SUNY, NY effort to support recovery efforts
- ESF Announces Commencement Weekend ActivitiesNumerous events celebrate students’ achievements
- Chemistry Graduate Student Wins AwardYuting Zhu honored by American Chemical Society
- Hello, Mr. President — About the Environment…ESF students pen Earth Day ‘elevator speeches’ for Donald Trump
- Two ESF Students Honored with Chancellor's AwardJet Lewis and Ben Taylor receive prestigious awards
- 3 ESF Students among Winners at SU RvD iPrize CompetitionFarm to Flame, Food for Community move on to state competition
- Smile! You’re On Canid CameraESF researcher seeks citizen scientists to help ID photos from trail cameras
- Acorns to Action Strives to Help Victims of Natural DisastersESF students focus on providing resources, knowledge to rebuild sustainably
- ESF Student Part of First-Place Team in Hult Prize CompetitionSayje Lasenberry is member of Farm to Flame Energy team
- Zachary Smith's Commencement SpeechEnvironmental studies major was chosen as student speaker
- Senior Accomplishes Goal: ‘Publish in a Journal’Environmental health major co-authors paper about discovery linked to fighting cancer
- ESF Students Participate in SEA Semester ProgramEFB majors set sail in the Atlantic Ocean
- Class of '17 Joins ESF Alumni RanksDegrees and ESF flags in hand, graduates celebrate accomplishments
- Chemistry Student Wins AwardGraduating senior Curtis Wilhelmsen recognized by environmental division of the American Chemical Society
- ESF Announces Commencement Weekend ActivitiesNumerous events celebrate students’ achievements
- ERE Major Builds Lengthy Resume at ESFTight-knit community, real-world experience made college stand out
- ESF Students Win StoryFest CompetitionTop prize is trip to Brazilian Rainforest for storytelling expedition
- Student from Nepal Finds Her Niche at ESFJyotika ‘Nicci’ Shah plans career in water quality
- ESF Education a Family Affair for Schiavone BrothersThree siblings share a major and a graduation date
- ESF Nordic Skier Competes in World University GamesConducts study on perfluorocarbons between races
- Academics, Athletics, Affordability Lure Soccer Captain to ESFHeather Carl makes her mark on campus
- Daily Adventures Mark Trip to South AmericaRosen Fellowship funds experience of a lifetime
- Student from Italy Finds Motivation at ESF"Here I am constantly pushed to do more"
- Walk on the Wild SideFellowship Funds Trip to South Africa
- USA President Focuses on Building RelationshipsBen Taylor leads 'growth year' for student government
- ESF Junior Honored as 'Unsung Hero'Shewa Shwani to receive award at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
- ‘Jet’ Lewis Builds Busy Life as ESF SophomoreCalifornia resident says diverse ideologies made ESF stand out
- Dedication to Environment Brings Student to ESF from Mexico'There is no other place like ESF,' freshman says
- Beer Eases Final Moments for Euthanized InvertebratesGraduate student seeks humane method for ending lives of research subjects
- ERE Major Tackles Wastewater Plan in IcelandFink Fellowship Supports Summer Abroad
- 44 ESF Students Spend Summer as DEC Interns‘Phenomenal’ range of work can help launch careers
- Paper Engineering Boosts Student through Semester AbroadGraduate-level classes and travel highlight trip to Germany
- ESF Alumnus Begins Peace Corps Service Caleb Rudge to spend two years in Paraguay
- Dream Becomes Reality for ESF SeniorRosen Fellowship supports summer internship in Stockholm
- Summer on the FarmFink Fellowship sends ESF junior to work on Thousand Islands farm
- SRC Fellowship Supports Student in Battle against Mosquitoes Chemical compound could help stop spread of disease
- ESF Landscape Architecture Students Receive ASLA HonorsHonor and merit certificates presented
- ESF Student Finalist for Olmsted Scholar AwardKathryn Chesebrough recognized for academic excellence
- ESF Graduate Joins Teach for America Peter LeDuc finds passion for teaching at ESF
- Advice for Graduates: Stay United, 'Enjoy Your Wisdom'Class of 2016 celebrates at Commencement
- Two ESF Students Earn SUNY Chancellor’s AwardFoley, Zubair honored for excellence
- Closed-Loop Art: Woodburner Uses Material at HandSenior donates artwork to Student Showcase Symposium
- Honors Student Works with 'Best Thing Ever': ElephantsTravel takes Yvonne Lim to Elephant Nature Park in Thailand
- ESF Ph.D. Student Selected as Junior Fellow in Korea
- The Cheer Fun of ItESF student leads SU cheer team
- Ph.D. Student Appointed to Federal Advisory PanelYang joins National Coal Council
- ‘Great Experience’ Takes Grad Student to BulgariaMLA student spends summer monitoring primitive horse population
- ESF Senior Wins Fulbright Research AwardGabriel Smith heads to Sweden to study fungi
- ESF Grad Student Awarded Rare Book School ScholarshipProgram delves into history of hand papermaking
- ESF Senior Honored at National STEM ConferenceCSTEP student Danielle Berry wins second place for poster
- Meghan JohnstoneTraveler in Australia, Nature Conservancy Intern
- Michael AmadoriAquaponics Research
- Ryan HenrySU's biggest sports fan.
- Lauren AlteioHarvard Forest Program
- Brookhaven National Laboratory InternsCourtney Buckley, Daniel Larkin, Michael Norman and Beverly Agtuca
- Brendan-Michael Galloway Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship
- Lynne BeattyMarine resources workshop participant
- Kristen AnthonyLandscape Architecture student, and SU competitive skier
- Craig LazzarEssay Contest nets ESF Senior $10,000
- Zachary KingBiotechnology Researcher
- Daniele BakerSUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence Recipient
- Greg BoydESF Senior, biodiesel expert
- Khristopher DodsonPublisher of Envi magazine
- Cara StaffordInvasive Plant Technician, Catalina Island
- Irony SadeBiotechnology Major
- April Karen BaptistePh.D. Candidate, Fulbright scholar, ESF
- Leah Dudziak & Lisa RuggeroTwo ESF Students on SU Dance Team