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By Vanessa Pinney
This interview is part of a series in which Center for Climate and Security (CCS) interns interview members of the CCS Advisory Board and other key voices in the climate and security field. Vanessa Pinney separately interviewed Sherri Goodman, the former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security and current senior member of the CCS Advisory Board, and Johan Bergenas, the Senior Director of Public Policy at Vulcan Inc., about their recent joint article “The United States Needs a Natural Security Strategy to Regain Our Global Leadership.” In the article, the authors call for a restructuring of the U.S. National Security Strategy to confront the growing threats of climate change and natural resource depletion. The responses have been edited for length and clarity. (more…)
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.
On Tuesday 30 June, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on the Climate Crisis issued a landmark report on the threats that climate change poses to the United States. Based on thousands of testimonies, inputs and recommendations from all sectors and regions of the country, the report outlines concrete legislative steps that the Committee recommends be taken to confront the challenge. In response, John Conger, Director of the Center for Climate and Security and former Deputy Comptroller of the U.S. Department of Defense, stated:
“We are pleased to see that the Committee’s report, “Solving the Climate Crisis”, recognizes the significant impacts of climate change on national security and includes several important recommendations in response. Their recommendations align with those that the Center for Climate and Security has embraced in its Climate Security Plan for America and A Security Threat Assessment of Global Climate Change, and they build on the important bipartisan work of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. We urge both the Administration and the Congress to continue prioritizing response to address this important national security threat.”
In a recent op-ed published in The Hill, the Center for Climate and Security’s Director, John Conger, and Board Member Alice Hill, call for a National Resilience Act requiring that all investments by the U.S. federal government be climate resilient. This would entail ensuring that such investments undergo a “climate resilience review.” In short, all federal investments should be built to stand up against current and projected climatic changes.
Conger and Hill state that this law should be envisioned as part of a comprehensive nationwide “Climate and Security Infrastructure Initiative” – the kind outlined in the Center for Climate and Security’s Climate Security Plan for America. (more…)