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The Center for Climate and Security on CBS News: Suppression of Climate Change Analysis by the White House

CCS research featured on CBS News – October 23, 2020

By Kate Guy

On October 22, Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) Advisory Board Member Dr. Rod Schoonover was featured in a CBS News segment discussing the severe security impacts posed by climate change. The segment, which aired ahead of the final 2020 U.S. Presidential Debate, highlighted the global security threats that a warming climate will exacerbate, and also featured cutting-edge analysis by the Center for Climate and Security

Climate insecurities “come in compounded effects, not isolated effects,” explained Dr. Schoonver to CBS News, including “direct harm from extreme events, water stress, food insecurity, erosion of econo life, loss of residences and property, and risk to human health.”

Dr. Schoonover is the former Senior Analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and former Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the National Intelligence Council (NIC). He has been a central figure in the story of the Trump Administration’s dangerous suppression of intelligence and scientific expertise, after his written Congressional testimony describing the INR’s assessment of climate risks was blocked by the White House in July of 2019. As reported at the time by the Washington Post and the New York Times, Dr. Schoonover’s uncensored testimony for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence describes the increasing severity of threats that climate change will pose to U.S interests and security across the world. 

The Center for Climate and Security (CCS) was central to exposing the Administration’s suppression of climate security intelligence, which the Trump White House said did not “correspond” with its views. This included a strong CCS response to an attempt in February 2019 by a climate-denying senior member of the National Security Council to create a non-scientific “adversarial” committee to scrutinize climate change analysis, as well as a forceful CCS statement regarding the suppression of Dr. Schoonover’s testimony.

As Francesco Femia, CCS and CSR Co-Founder, told the Washington Post at the time of Dr. Schoonover’s suppressed testimony: “Any attempt to suppress information on the security risks of climate change threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”

Also featured in the segment is research conducted by CCS Senior Research Fellow Oliver-Leighton Barrett, on the role that drought and climate stress played in the migration of Central Americans to the United States. 

Security leaders like Dr. Schoonover and Lieutenant Commander Barrett have long expressed concern around the escalating harms associated with climate change. A recent panel of former national security, military, and intelligence experts I led warned that our current warming trajectory could bring about catastrophic and irreversible impacts to U.S. security. 

There is still time for the U.S. government to take these threats seriously, and to prepare for and prevent the worst outcomes. Check out the Climate Security Plan for America: A Presidential Plan for Combating the Security Risks of Climate Change for detailed proposals on how the next Administration can advance these issues.

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