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Release: Planned Executive Order on Climate Security Scrapped, but Assault on Science Agencies and National Security Continues

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Carried by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a team of scientists investigate how a melting Arctic affects the ocean’s chemical and biological makeup – NASA image acquired July 12, 2011

Washington, DC, February 24, 2019 – According to a Washington Post article published today, the planned Executive Order establishing a Presidential Committee on Climate Security, or PCCS, has likely been scrapped – at least in its initial form. This is probably due to the extraordinarily negative public response to the idea following an initial Washington Post article on the PCCS published on February 20 (wherein the Center for Climate and Security strongly criticized the proposed federal advisory committee). However, the National Security Council intends to move forward more quietly and less publicly with an internal, ad hoc group of scientists designed to provide an “adversarial” peer review of recent climate change findings by the federal science agencies, including the National Climate Assessment – a process that seeks to undermine scientific findings, as opposed to evaluate their soundness, and then feed that into national security policy. Presumably due to withering criticism from the security community in the wake of the initial report, recent intelligence agency assessments are exempt from scrutiny under this new working group (Department of Defense reports may be as well, though the Washington Post article does not make that clear).

Given that both the intelligence and defense communities rely on the sound and rigorously peer-reviewed climate change findings of the federal science agencies in order to do their jobs, the continuation of the committee under this new guise continues to present a real risk sound national security judgment. In that context, Rear Admiral David Titley, USN (Ret), Advisory Board member with the Center for Climate and Security, former Oceanographer of the Navy, and former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told the Washington Post today:

“I never thought I would live to see the day in the United States where our own White House is attacking the very science agencies that can help the president understand and manage the climate risks to security of today and tomorrow,” said Titley, who sits on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security, a nonpartisan group focused on climate-related risks. “Such attacks are un-American.”

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Defense Dossier Covers Climate Change and Security

Defense Dossier Cover_Issue_23_On December 31, the American Foreign Policy Council’s excellent Defense Dossier published a timely new volume titled “Resource Security and Changing Global Environmental Conditions.” The entire volume is worth a read, covering natural resource stresses on a broad array of security issues including military readiness, water and food stress, and energy security. The volume also includes articles from four Center for Climate and Security experts, including Rachel Fleishman and Sherri Goodman who write about climate change and the U.S. military, and Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell, who address the security implications of a recent special report from the IPCC. Click here to read.

Three Takeaways from Hurricane Michael’s Impact on Tyndall Air Force Base

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An F-22 Raptor from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., commences take off (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa)

By John Conger, Director, The Center for Climate and Security

As the Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Michael begin their long recovery, much attention has been focused on Tyndall Air Force Base and the incredible amount of damage the base took from the storm.

First and foremost, it’s important to highlight the wise decision to evacuate the base as the storm approached.  No lives were lost on Tyndall and many of its F-22 aircraft were relocated elsewhere – out of harms way.  Missions have been moved and critical functions have continued to operate.  A decision to ride out the storm could have gone much, much worse.

Second, while the damage assessment is still ongoing, it is very clear that the bill will be quite high – not only to the infrastructure of the base, but also to the very expensive F-22 aircraft that remained at the installation.  Official numbers have not been released, but it is clear that many F-22s remained at the base because they were in various states of maintenance and unable to fly.  Fortunately, initial indications from the Air Force are that damage to the aircraft is less than it could have been.  (more…)

U.S. Congress Addresses Climate Change and Security in the Latest Defense Bill

The_PentagonBy John Conger

A year after Congress declared climate change to be a direct threat to national security – a process that included a bipartisan vote on the House floor with dozens of Republicans joining Democrats to affirm the declaration – Congress passed a Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that reflects an acceptance of that consensus and an embrace of constructive measures to ensure the Department of Defense (DoD) is able to perform its missions under changing climate conditions.

With bipartisan support, Congress has produced a bill that accepts climate change as a given, takes significant steps forward to improve the resilience of DoD installations to climate change risks, and sets its sights on preparing to operate in a warming Arctic.  (more…)

A Bipartisan Letter from Congress on Climate Change and National Security

U.s._capitolLed by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Jim Langevin (D-RI), a bipartisan group of 106 lawmakers released an extraordinary letter last week urging the President of the United States to reconsider omission of climate change as a security threat in its National Security Strategy, citing the words of sitting Secretary of Defense James Mattis to underline the issue’s importance. (more…)

New Report: Action on Climate and Security Risks

Action on Climate and Security RisksLast week, a new report was released by the Planetary Security Initiative (PSI), a multi-organization consortium including the Center for Climate and Security, and coordinated by the Netherlands’ Clingendael Institute. The report, titled Action on Climate and Security Risks, reviews global progress made to date on addressing the security implications of a changing climate. The review includes both significant concerns, and reasons for optimism. From the announcement:

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Defense Bill Passes with Climate Change and National Security Provision

800px-United_States_Capitol_Building-_west_front_editUPDATE: The President signed the 2018 NDAA into law on December 12. A recognition of climate change as a direct threat to national security is now an official position of the Administration.

Every year since 1961, the U.S. Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act – or the NDAA, as it’s known in acronym-obsessed Washington. The bill essentially determines which agencies are responsible for defense, establishes funding levels, and sets policies under which money will be spent. Last week, the U.S. Congress passed the FY2018 NDAA, and sent it to the President for signature. He is expected to promptly sign it. Interestingly, this year’s NDAA, among many other things, says something loud and clear about climate change: there is a bipartisan majority in Congress that accepts climate change is a “direct threat” to national security, and that the Department of Defense (DoD) must have the authority to prepare for it.

In response, John Conger, Senior Policy Advisor with the Center for Climate and Security, noted in an interview with the Washington Examiner: (more…)