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Science suppression is a security threat – whether climate or covid

Femia_Francesco_2019By Francesco Femia

A little over a year ago, the White House tried to block the testimony of a respected professional, Dr. Rod Schoonover – senior analyst and senior scientist in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State, and former Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the National Intelligence Council (and, full disclosure, a current member of the Center for Climate and Security’s Advisory Board). The reason? The White House thought the written testimony, which included widely-accepted descriptions of the state of climate change science, didn’t sit well with the President’s political take on the subject. And so National Security Council staff tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress it. In response, I told the Washington Post:

“This is an intentional failure of the White House to perform a core duty: inform the American public of the threats we face. It’s dangerous and unacceptable. Any attempt to suppress information on the security risks of climate change threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”

Last Friday, the White House once again attempted to suppress science. This time by blocking the testimony of the CDC Director, Robert Redfield, on how to reopen schools safely, from the CDC’s scientifically-driven public health perspective. Without any exaggeration, my words from last June on the suppression of climate science in intelligence analysis are wholly relevant today, by simply replacing “climate change” with “COVID-19.” The pattern is alarmingly consistent, and threatens many Americans with sickness and death – including members of my own family. And so I offer the following words in response to the blocking of the CDC Director’s testimony by the White House:

“This is an intentional failure of the White House to perform a core duty: inform the American public of the threats we face. It’s dangerous and unacceptable. Any attempt to suppress information on the risks of COVID-19 threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”

The suppression of science, particularly on the scale we’re seeing today, is – simply put – a security threat. Anyone who cares about the security of the American public, and the nation as a whole, should be deeply concerned. My colleagues and I at the Council on Strategic Risks certainly are, and will be raising a red flag anytime it occurs in the future.

Francesco Femia is the Co-Founder, Research Director and former CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks and the Center for Climate and Security.


Climate Change Entails More Than Changing Temperatures: Disease and Security Implications


By Leah Emanuel

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Matthew Vollrath, a journalism Master’s student at Stanford, has created a podcast entitled “Life in the Coronaverse.” This five-part series explores the linkages between the coronavirus and climate change, how we respond to both, the partisan divides impacting action, and more. In the third episode, published on May 29, Vollrath spoke with Stanford physician Desiree LaBeaud and Center for Climate and Security’s Senior Strategist Sherri Goodman about the global health and security impacts that climate change can have. (more…)

Goodman on the Climate and Covid Threat and the Energy Opportunity

Goodman_One Tree Planted_2020_5By Leah Emanuel

The Center for Climate and Security’s Senior Strategist, Sherri Goodman, spoke with Ben Hemmings and Joe Coppolino for their podcast and youtube channel, The One Tree Planted Show. In the episode published on May 1, Goodman spoke about the interconnection between climate change and national security, the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating a greener economy, and the security implications of the melting arctic. (more…)

Heeding the Intelligence Warnings of the Next Crisis

3By John Conger and Kate Guy

In the January 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment, the Director of National Intelligence offered this clear prediction: “We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or largescale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability…”

It is hard to come up with a better description of the current crisis.

A few pages later, the report predicts that “global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond. Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.” (more…)

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