58 National Security Experts Denounce Trump’s Latest Plan to Dispute Climate Science

An airplane hanger at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida, was damaged from Hurricane Michael in October 2018.
Photo: AP

Top U.S. military and national security leaders have some Thoughts about President Donald Trump’s proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security. The president is reportedly planning to inject some climate denial into the national security world with the panel whose existence first came to light last month, and 58 senior leaders with actual experience in this space wrote him a letter Tuesday urging him to please not.

The letter—signed by the likes of former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, both of whom served under former President Barack Obama—emphasizes the reality of climate change and the impacts it’s already having on national security. Last year, Hurricane Florence damaged Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, and the letter is sure to note that worse storms (and costs) are to come.

The point of the letter, said John Conger, director of the Center for Climate and Security, is to let the president know that there’s opposition to this panel and to, ultimately, keep the panel from happening altogether.


“What we don’t want is for people with a skeptical climate agenda to force themselves into that national security risk evaluation process because it runs counter to their agenda,” Conger told Earther.

The Trump administration has proposed to place William Happer, who sits on the the National Security Council and is a known climate skeptic, in charge of the committee. He is a major fan of carbon dioxide and claims more of it will be good for humanity. He’s even compared its plight to the terror Jews endured under Adolf Hitler during the Holocaust.


“The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” Happer said in 2014 on national television. “Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”


So, yeah. That’s the type of guy who’d be in charge of this panel, which the Washington Post reports may be planning to counter the dire conclusions about climate change laid out in the government’s recent National Climate Assessment. It’s no wonder former air force commanders and U.S. navy oceanographers are worried.

The Trump administration has previously left national security out of its climate denial efforts, funding a $716 defense bill last year that included infrastructure changes necessary in a world with higher sea levels and increased flooding.


But the president has now changed his mind apparently, and leaders in national security are understandably worried. After all, climate change is a threat multiplier, said Conger. It can potentially worsen already delicate conflicts by causing economic displacement, food insecurity, or water shortages. Without proper preparation, climate change may threaten global stability. And that’s something we all should be worried about.

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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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