Dr. Daniel M. Kammen, a professor at the University of California Berkeley, was the science envoy to the U.S. Department of State until he resigned on Wednesday. Kammen’s resignation letter submitted to President Donald Trump gained social media attention for spelling out “IMPEACH” with the first letter of every paragraph.
“My decision to resign is in response to your attacks on core values of the United States,” Kammen wrote. “Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications.”
Here’s a look at Kammen’s resignation letter and his career.
1. Kammen Wrote Trump’s Decisions to ‘Abdicate Leadership Opportunities’ Are ‘Not Acceptable to Me’ & The President Has Attacked the ‘Core Values’ of the U.S.
Kammen posted his resignation letter on Twitter, writing, “Mr. President, I am resigning as Science Envoy. Your response to Charlottesville enables racism, sexism, & harms our country and planet.” While the word “IMPEACH” being hidden in the letter gained the most attention, Kammen provides a detailed reasoning for his resignation.
In the letter itself, Kammen wrote, “My decision to resign is in response to your attacks on core values of the United States. Your failure to condemn white supremacists and neo-Nazis has domestic and international ramifications.”
“Particularly troubling to me is how your response to Charlottesville is consistent with a broader pattern of behavior that enables sexism and racism, and disregards the welfare of all Americans, the global community and the planet. Examples of this destructive pattern have consequences on my duties as Science Envoy. Your decision to abdicate leadership opportunities and the job creation benefits of the Paris Climate Accord, and to undermine energy and environmental research are not acceptable to me.”
Kammen then quoted President Dwight D. Eisenhower. “A people [or person] that values its privileges above principles soon loses both,” reads the quote.
He also accused the President pf making moves that have “harmed the quality of life in the United States, or standing abroad, and the sustainability of the planet.”
2. Kammen Has Had Roles in the Government Since 1996 & Became State Department Science Envoy in 2016
As Kammen notes at the top of his resignation letter, he has been working with the U.S. government since 1996. He’s served in the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. In 2016, he was named a science envoy to the State Department, joining four other scientists.
“As a Science Envoy, Dr. Kammen will focus on energy innovation in the Middle East and Africa,” the State Department said.
According to Kammen’s Berkeley bio, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named him the first Environment and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA) Fellow in April 2010.
Kammen also worked for the World Bank between October 2010 and November 2011 as Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. At the World Bank, he also contributed blog posts on renewable energy solutions around the globe.
His last post for the World Bank was published in September 2011, after he chaired the Green Household Energy Solutions Expo in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“For years household energy has been cited as important and identified as a place where energy choices directly impact health and children’s opportunities for schooling,” Kammen wrote. “At this meeting, the business opportunities in clean energy and the needs of nations to meet the energy access gap were clear, as was the call for targeted lending and grants to build markets to meet the needs of a continent with the lowest rate of electrification in the world.”
3. Kammen Is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at Berkeley & Chairs the Energy & Resources Group
According to Kammen’s LinkedIn page, he earned his Bachelor’s in Physics from Cornell University and his PhD from Harvard University. He was first a professor at Princeton from 1993 to 1999.
Since June 1999, Kammen has been teaching at UC Berkeley. He is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy and chairs the Energy & Resources Group, a graduate program.
Kammen is also the founder of the university’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center and the director of the Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory. He also worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its 2007 report on climate change.
4. Kammen’s Father Is the Late Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian Michael Kammen
Kammen’s father is Michael Kammen, the late Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. As the Washington Post’s obituary notes, Michael Kammen died in November 2013 at age 77.
Michael Kammen won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for History for People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization. In his career, he wrote or edited over 25 books and was a scholar of Colonial America and won awards for 1986’s A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture.
Michael Kammen’s mother is historian Carol Koyen Kammen. He also has a brother, Douglas Kammen.
5. Kammen Says Trump’s Moves to Curb Back Environmental Regulations Won’t Create New Jobs, but Does the Opposite
Kammen was critical of Trump long before he resigned. In June, he told the CalAlumni Association that he thought Trump’s roll-backs on environmental regulation will not create jobs like the President hopes. He said the decisions could hurt those in Midwestern states, which voted for Trump.
“Our research indicates that investing in solar and wind power yields two to five times the jobs that a similar investment would produce in the fossil fuel sector,” Kammen told the site. “The irony is that Trump’s rescinding of the Clean Power Plan is going to hit the Midwestern red states the hardest. The rule would’ve cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2025 and established an $8 billion fund to support clean-up jobs and other benefits for affected states. That would’ve provided a lot of economic opportunity for poor and struggling red state communities.”
Kammen said Trump “ceded leadership” by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord.
“What withdrawal does establish is that the U.S. is no longer a major player in climate change response and policy, and that will affect where the investments go,” Kammen said. “China has just invested [more than] $300 billion in clean energy. Ultimately, that’s going to translate to about a trillion dollars in lost job opportunities for the United States. Trump has essentially ceded leadership.”