Sorry Trump: House Votes to Affirm that Climate Change is a ‘Direct Threat’ to National Security

Donald Trump is unarguably the most hostile president to the environment this country has ever seen. He is an unabashed science denier who believes that climate change is a hoax invented by China. He petulantly withdrew the United States from the Paris Accords that mobilized more than 170 countries to protect the planet. His director of the Environmental Protection Agency is an avowed critic of the institution and has lobbied to abolish it. Trump opposes development of eco-friendly, renewable energy and supports expanding use of coal and fossil fuels.

Climate Change

That reprehensible record of extremist anti-environmentalism notwithstanding, many of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress just told him to frack off. An amendment to the Pentagon’s budget sought to eliminate language that addressed the threat of climate change. But the amendment failed with the help of some Republicans and most Democrats. As reported by Axios:

“Forty-six House Republicans joined Democrats Thursday to protect language in defense policy legislation that calls climate change a ‘direct threat’ to national security and requires new Defense Department analysis of its effect on the military. The House voted 185-234 against GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have stripped the language.”

The bill’s author argued that the military has more important matters to deal with and should leave climate change to other agencies. But others pointed out that rising sea levels are already threatening existing military installations. Even more troubling is the fact that global weather patterns are creating disasters that exacerbate regional conflicts. And countries suffering from drought, floods, and resource depletion can become dangerously unstable and vulnerable to extremist insurrections and war.

Opposition to Trump’s climate blindness from within his own ranks is nothing new. Earlier this year his Defense Secretary, James Mattis, openly contradicted his boss. Mattis said that climate change is “a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.” And furthermore, “it is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.”

Mattis isn’t the first defense secretary to hold these views. In fact, six of the past Secretaries of Defense (Mattis, Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and Donald Rumsfeld) all subscribed to the policy that climate change is one of America’s top strategic risks. And four of the six are Republicans. Especially notable is Rumsfeld, under whose leadership the Pentagon published a report on the subject. It’s title was “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.” The report warned that threats posed by climate change were even more perilous than terrorism.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It’s encouraging that a few dozen Republicans joined with Democrats to kill this amendment. But it’s troubling that the majority of the GOP still voted in favor of it. Trump and the Republican Party continue to deny the accumulated wisdom of both scientific and military experts. They support an agenda that advances the interests of oil barons and apocalyptic Christianists. So this victory must be celebrated with a measure of uncertainty and a resolve to keep fighting for positive goals.

Trump’s Defense Secretary Says Climate Change Is a Real Threat to American Interests

The Republican Party has long been a fierce opponent of any efforts to mitigate climate change. Their opposition stands in stark contrast to the near unanimous consensus in the scientific community. But that hasn’t stopped conservative leaders from twisting their heads firmly into the sand on behalf of their fossil fuel benefactors.

Donald Trump James Mattis

Donald Trump is among those who refuse to accept the reality of climate change. He has called it a hoax perpetrated by China. He installed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director, Scott Pruitt, who doesn’t think that carbon dioxide is a driver of global warming. And much of his domestic policy is focused on advancing the financial prospects of oil and coal producers. But there are some new fissures beginning to show in the administration. The Huffington Post is reporting that:

“Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.”

Indeed, the new Pentagon chief is directly disavowing the position of the President. He went on to stress that “this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.” According to “Mad Dog” Mattis “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.”

This is not a particularly new opinion within the walls of the Pentagon. The military has been crystal clear for years about the very real consequences of a world where water and arable land become scarce, and nations erupt into chaos and war. And it isn’t just liberal tree-huggers who have signaled the alarm on climate change. For instance, the Rolling Stone documented this notorious right-wing influencer:

“In 2003, under Donald Rumsfeld, former President George W. Bush’s defense secretary, the Pentagon published a report titled ‘An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.’ Commissioned by Andrew Marshall, who is sometimes jokingly referred to within the Pentagon as Yoda — and who was a favorite of Rumsfeld’s — the report warned that threats to global stability posed by rapid warming vastly eclipse that of terrorism.”

Rumsfeld is not alone either. Six of the past Secretaries of Defense (Mattis, Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Robert Gates, and Rumsfeld) all subscribed to the policy that climate change is one of America’s top strategic risks. And four of the six are Republicans.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump has variously said that he would rely on his generals, but also that he knows more than they do. It’s too soon to say which side he’ll come down on with regard to Gen. Mattis’ remarks. Trump is well known for not backing off of any position he takes, no matter how flawed. But if he insists on opposing the accumulated wisdom of six defense secretaries, and hundreds of climate scientists, he will only be digging himself and the Earth’s inhabitants a deeper grave.