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Release: 58 Senior Military and National Security Leaders Denounce NSC Climate Panel

CCS_ASP Letter to the PresidentWashington, DC, March 5, 2019 — In an extraordinary letter published today by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS) and the American Security Project (ASP), a group of 58 senior retired military and national security leaders denounced the National Security Council (NSC) plan to set up an “adversarial” group to undermine the science that informs defense and intelligence threat assessments on climate change. The plan is being driven by vocal climate denier William Happer, who has expertise in neither climate science nor national security. The letter includes former secretaries of defense and state (Hagel and Kerry) former combatant commanders (such as Admiral Locklear and General McChrystal), former intelligence leaders (such as Greg Treverton, past Chair of the National Intelligence Council) and other senior military and national security officials that served in Republican and Democratic administrations stretching back to President Eisenhower. The letter represents an extraordinary rebuke from a very practical community that is normally focused on addressing external threats, not internal politics. This demonstrates how far outside the national security consensus the NSC proposal is. The letter states: (more…)

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.”

(more…)

Commander of US Forces in the Indo-Asia Pacific Affirms Climate Change Threat

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Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), describes climate change threats before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Feb 12, 2019

By John Conger

During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 12, Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), affirmed the threat climate change poses to his Area of Responsibility, becoming the 21st senior military official to raise concerns about climate risks during the current Administration (see here for a list from November, and here for statements from Admiral Moran and General Neller in December).

During questioning, Admiral Davidson confirmed that he agreed with the intelligence community’s assessment of the climate change threat, as articulated in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment published by the Director for National Intelligence (NOTE: climate change has been identified as a security threat in each of the last ten such assessments). (more…)

Climate Risks in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

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Official portrait of DNI Director Dan Coats, 10 March 2017

For the third time during the current U.S. Administration, climate change was included in the annual 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community released by the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. Consistent with threat assessments and memoranda from the National Intelligence Council and CIA during both the GW Bush and Obama Administrations, the assessment raises concerns about the national security implications of a changing climate. This demonstrates a strong bipartisan consensus regarding the security risks of climate change.

Reiterating a point we make each year when the Worldwide Threat Assessment is released, given that climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” – multiplying existing threats in the security environment – one cannot contain the threat to the specific sections described below. For example, climate change is likely to have a significant impact on health security, as included in this year’s assessment, as well as nuclear proliferation, which is covered separately in the threat assessment. It may contribute to the conditions that allow for terrorism, or international organized crime, to thrive. It may also make mass displacements of people, instability, conflict, and atrocities, more likely. Climate change influences the entire geostrategic landscape. In that sense, one could walk through the entire threat assessment report and identify ways in which climate change will intersect with nearly every risk identified, and in most cases, make them worse. (more…)

U.S. Intelligence Community: Impacts of Climate Change Raise the Risk of Conflict in 2018

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Official portrait of DNI Director Dan Coats, 10 March 2017

For the past ten years, beginning with the last year of the George W. Bush Administration, the U.S. intelligence community (IC) has annually warned policy-makers of the security implications of climate change. This year is the eleventh. Yesterday, during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) Director Dan Coats released the annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” which reflects the perspective of the entire U.S. intelligence community regarding the most significant risks to national security. Notably, the assessment includes a robust section titled “Environment and Climate Change” which not only details a range of security threats related to climate change, but also asserts that these risks, combined with other natural resources stresses, “are likely to fuel economic and social discontent–and possibly upheaval–through 2018.” In other words, the U.S. intelligence community believes these threats are not on the distant horizon, but rather, already occurring and likely to increase political instability this very year. (more…)

The National Security Leadership’s Message to the White House: Take Climate Change Seriously

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Sec Mattis and Sec Tillerson

The current Administration’s top leadership on defense, diplomacy and intelligence – the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Director of National Intelligence – all agree that climate change is happening and presents risks to the United States that must be addressed.

For example, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in his answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s “Questions for the Record,” made very robust statements about current – not future – impacts of climate change on the U.S. military’s mission. His statements were some of the most forward-leaning public sentiments on the issue expressed by a sitting Secretary of Defense: “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today. It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning…Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”

Continue reading this article at The Cipher Brief

Climate Change in the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

Dan_Coats_official_DNI_portraitDirector of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, released yesterday the 2017 “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community.” Consistent with threat assessments and memoranda from the National Intelligence Council and CIA during both the GW Bush and Obama Administrations, the assessment raises concerns about the national security implications of a changing climate, air pollution and stressed natural resources. From page 13-14: (more…)