President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, was fired (or resigned) on Monday. Now it appears the flotsam he brought with him to the National Security Council could be following him out the door. And it could have a surprising climate upside.
Bloomberg’s Ari Natter reported on Tuesday that William Happer has turned in his resignation from the National Security Council. Happer is a physicist, but he’s best known for being a climate denier who once said the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.
One of Happer’s big endeavors during his year with the Trump administration was trying to spearhead a “debate” over the validity of climate science between actual scientists and a bunch of doofuses from conservative think tanks. The idea was a favorite of grift master Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency. After he resigned in disgrace, Happer took up the mantle of making the debate happen with Bolton’s blessing. Thankfully, it never did because it would be a huge waste of time for everyone involved, America at large included.
It’s unclear what else, if anything, Happer accomplished on the National Security Council. But with him and Bolton out, there are at least two fewer idiots on the council trying to put a torch to climate science and even worse, ignore its impacts on national security. It’s easy to forget just how outlandish it is to have climate deniers providing key national security advice, but step back and it’s quickly clear how fucked up it is.
Climate change poses one of the biggest national security threats to the U.S. Science backs this up, showing that military bases could be flooded out by sea level rise and storms and that changing weather patterns could destabilize parts of the world. People who don’t acknowledge the threat of climate change let alone the scientific reality shouldn’t be in positions of power. And yet, Bolton (who does not deny climate change but has opposed international efforts to curb rising temperatures) and Happer (who has claimed climate scientists are wrong) have both managed to have long had access to the halls of power; Bolton has had a position in every Republican administration since Regan, and Happer worked in George W. Bush’s Department of Energy.
In fact, Bolton’s lobbying for endless war in the Middle East to keep the flow of oil running uninterrupted has spurred climate change along. The U.S. military is also the largest consumer of oil in the world, and the 21st century “War on Terror” that Bolton backed has kicked carbon emissions into high gear. A report earlier this year found an astounding 35 percent of the military’s emissions since 2001 are tied to the war, helping speed climate change along and resulting in a more unstable future.
I’m not holding my breath that Bolton or Happer will be replaced by people who understand the national security risks climate change poses, let alone favor a proactive stance to address climate change. And there are still plenty of climate deniers in the administration, including the president himself. But I’m also more than happy to bid them good riddance.