For Immediate Release: Mar 26, 2018
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337
President Creates Climate Miasma in Contradicting Both Himself and His Pentagon
Washington, DC — America officially still regards climate change as a major threat to national security but our leadership is unclear on what, if anything, it plans to do about it, according to a new analysis by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). President Trump takes inconsistent stands, sometimes virtually simultaneously, on the question while at variance with his top commanders’ opinions.
In December, Mr. Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 declaring as a matter of law that “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.”
That same month, he issued his first National Security Strategy that discarded the long-established tenet of climate change as a major national security threat and driver of dynamics affecting vital national interests. But that document also delivered this curiously mixed message: “the United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy.”
Just a month earlier, the Trump Administration’s U.S. Global Change Research Program released the Climate Science Special Report – the most authoritative assessment of climate change science – that found the incidence of tidal flooding is accelerating, as are the occurrence of heavy rainfalls, heat waves, and large forest fires.
“To say the Trump strategic posture on climate change lacks coherence would be an understatement,” stated Dr. Tamara Dickinson, PEER’s new Director of Climate Policy, who served in Obama’s Office of Science Technology Policy and had previous stints at the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. “Our allies and enemies are not the only ones left confused.”
Meanwhile, in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary James Mattis declared, “I agree that the effects of a changing climate – such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others – impact our security situation.” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, has also said that climate change and rising sea levels pose the most serious long-term security threat to the country.
In addition, according to the January 2018 Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure Initial Vulnerability Assessment Survey Report, U.S. military installations worldwide are already seeing the effects of a changing climate – from drought, wind, non-storm and storm surge flooding, and wildfire. Such extreme and sometimes catastrophic weather events are forecast to continue increasing in intensity and frequency.
“This almost careless inconstancy suggests a Trump White House playing political peek-a-boo on the serious threats posed to our nation and the world by climate change,” added Dr. Dickinson, noting that U.S. military and intelligence communities have been preparing our country’s strategic adjustments to climate change since at least 1990. “Fortunately, Trump tweets and other pronouncements are not slowing the Pentagon’s actual preparations for the climate change that is obviously well underway around the globe and accelerating in pace and intensity.”