Washington—Representative William R. Keating, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, today delivered the following statement at a hearing of the full House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the threats climate change poses to U.S. national security:
“Now, the national-security concerns tied to climate change are nothing new to the United States Government. In fact, government researchers across disciplines—and across administrations of both parties—have been taking a hard look at this challenge for decades.
“It was all the way back in 1988 that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established. In 2003, the Pentagon commissioned a report to examine how an abrupt change in climate would affect our defense capabilities. Its authors concluded that it ‘should be [evaluated] beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.’
“It was uplifted to that level more recently, in 2012 and 2014, the Department of Defense Climate Change Adaptation Roadmaps stated that climate change can serve as ‘an accelerant of instability or conflict’ that could have significant geopolitical impacts and contribute to ‘poverty, environmental degradation, the weakening of fragile governments and food and water scarcity.’
“In December 2017, the GOP-led Congress passed a defense bill that was signed into law with language stating that ‘climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States.’
“And just this past January, the national intelligence director delivered a worldwide threat assessment that, ‘climate hazards’ include extreme weather, wildfires, droughts, acidification of the oceans, ‘threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.’
“Now, what are the real-world implications of all these assessments and warnings? What does our warming globe actually look like? Intensifying food and water insecurity; population flows related to migration, displacement, and planned relocation; the inability of fragile states to anticipate and mitigate the impacts of climate change; increased need for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance; great power competition resulting from the diminishment of arctic sea ice; and heightened conflict with and among states.
“These are problems that would generally demand the full focus of American foreign policy. You’d think that getting at the root cause of such an alarming list of issues would be a major priority.
“The rest of the world thinks so. Every other country on the planet is party or signatory to the Paris Agreement aimed at curbing the greenhouse gases that drive climate change. The only country to announce its intention to walk away from that deal is, of course, the United States.
“To justify this misguided decision, the White House recently announced plans to create an ad hoc group of select scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science. After years and years of federal research that makes a clear and strong case that climate change is a serious threat, the Trump Administration is now desperately seeking to undermine the conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet and putting our nation’s security at risk.
“It’s just astounding. It’s bizarre. It’s rare to see every country in the world rally around an issue, but there’s one idea that just about everybody is aboard on: it is absolutely imperative that we grapple with the challenge of climate change, that the future of our very world and American national security depends on the actions that we take today, that we owe to future generations so that we don’t turn our back on the tide and we prevent that list of horrible consequences.
“Just about everybody, that is, except certain members of one party in the United States feels that way. And as a result of this small cabal with their heads planted firmly in the sand, the United States has rejected the clear science, ignored the growing threat, and walked away from its role as a global leader on this issue.
“I can’t help but wonder, 30 or 50 or 100 years down the road, when people look back at this era, what they’ll be saying about the way the United States dealt with this problem. I don’t think it will be very kind.
“I’m entering into the record a letter signed by 58 former senior military and intelligence officials to the President warning him that ‘imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security. It is dangerous to have national security analysis [conform] to politics.’
“Two of those former officials, Admiral Dennis McGinn and Deputy Undersecretary Sherri Goodman, are here with us today. Sherri, coming and having connections right to my district in Cape Cod. I look forward to their testimony and that of Mr. Weisenfeld and Mr. Worthington.”
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