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By John Conger
It’s a frequent question that presidential candidates are asked: What would you do on Day One of your Presidency? Aside from the fact that there’s only so much you can practically get accomplished before you have your staff in place and operations running, a four-year term rapidly becomes a short period of time. Congress often moves slowly and Federal budget processes are not designed for agility. For example, the first budget a new president gets to write would be the one they submit 13 months into their term, which only affects spending close to two years into their term. It can be frustrating, but it also illustrates why it’s absolutely necessary to have an idea of what you want to accomplish from the outset. (more…)
According to reports by E&E News and the New York Times, a leading voice for climate denialism at the White House’s National Security Council, William Happer, has stepped down from his position after a failed effort to suppress climate change analysis from U.S. science, intelligence, defense and other agencies. Speaking to Lisa Friedman at the New York Times, Francesco Femia, Co-Founder of the Center for Climate and Security and CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks, stated:
“Someone who denies the existence of nuclear weapons or terrorism would never be given a senior position at the National Security Council, and that should have been true on climate change, which is recognized across parties as a security threat to the United States,” said Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, a nonpartisan think tank. “So while this is good news, he never should have been there in the first place.”
Rear Admiral Dave Titley on CNN: “This is a blatant attempt…to politicize the security aspect of climate change”
Yesterday, Christiane Amanpour of CNN spoke to Rear Admiral David W. Titley, USN (Ret), Senior Member of the Center for Climate and Security Advisory Board and former Oceanographer of the Navy, about the recent letter signed by 58 senior military and national security officials denouncing the William Happer-led process within the National Security Council to establish an adversarial climate change review panel. When asked why a group of people who aren’t normally vocal critics of Administration policy responded so vigorously to the proposed panel, Admiral Titley stated:
“What concerns so many of us who signed the letter is that this is really a blatant attempt by the National Security Council to politicize the security aspect of climate change.”
Watch a short clip here.
Watch the full interview here.
Washington, 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…)
The most recent coverage of the National Security Council’s planned “adversarial” climate group has focused on its potential implications for the U.S. government’s science agencies. John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security, appeared on NPR recently to highlight the ways in which this process of undermining rigorously peer-reviewed climate science, and using that to shape national security policy, can undermine the military’s and the intelligence community’s efforts to address the threat. Take a listen here.
Release: Planned Executive Order on Climate Security Scrapped, but Assault on Science Agencies and National Security Continues
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.”
On September 21, 2016, the Obama Administration made two significant announcements related to climate change and national security – one which highlights the latest intelligence on the nature of the risk, and the second which lays the foundation for managing that risk across agencies. This included:
- A report from the National Intelligence Council (NIC): “Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change”;
- A Presidential Memorandum (PM): Climate Change and National Security, establishing an organizational framework for managing climate change risks to national security, to be be run by the National Security Advisor and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
These releases both reflect the reality of this accelerating risk, as identified by many in the bipartisan national security community to date, as well as practical next steps recommended by the Climate and Security Advisory Group.