Under Trump, climate change not a national security threat




 

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump removed climate change from the list of worldwide threats menacing the United States on Monday, a shift that underscores the long-term ramifications of the "America first" world view he laid out in his new National Security Strategy.

The document depicts Russia and China as combative rivals in perpetual competition with the U.S. But it makes no mention of what scientists say are the dangers posed by a warming climate, including more extreme weather events that could spark humanitarian crises, mass migrations, and conflict.

It's a significant departure from the Obama administration, which had described climate change as an "urgent and growing threat to our national security." And it demonstrates how Trump, despite struggling to push his own agenda through a Republican-controlled Congress, has been able to unilaterally dismantle one of his predecessor's signature efforts.

As far back as 2003, during George W. Bush's presidency, a report commissioned by the Defense Department said abrupt climate change threatened "disruption and conflict," refugee crises, border tensions and more military conflicts.

Trump's national security report, required annually by Congress, emphasizes that economic security is national security for the U.S. It makes clear the United States will unilaterally defend its sovereignty, even if that means risking existing agreements with other countries.

The new document doesn't eliminate references to the environment entirely. It "recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship" and says that "climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system."

"The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy," it reads.

But Trump, in a speech about the report, blamed past administrations for putting "American energy under lock and key" and said his approach "embraces a future of American energy dominance and self-sufficiency."

"Our nation must take advantage of our wealth in domestic resources and energy efficiency to promote competitiveness across our industries," he said.

That thinking represents a reversal, not just from previous Democratic administrations, but from Republican as well, said Geoffrey Dabelko, director of environmental studies at Ohio University.

"Proscribing more fossil fuels rather than seeing that as a fundamental source of vulnerability that undercuts resilience ... that is definitely a departure, in some ways turning the argument on its head," he said.

The last national strategy document, prepared by President Barack Obama in 2015, identified climate change as a national security risk alongside threats like the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and catastrophic attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Climate change, that document warned, was contributing to "increased natural disasters, refugee flows and conflicts over basic resources like food and water" and was already being felt "from the Arctic to the Midwest," with rising sea levels and storm surges threatening coastal regions, infrastructure and property.

Jamil N. Jaffer, founder of the National Security Institute at George Mason University's law school, sees the broader new strategy as a shift "that reasserts America's role in the world as a nation willing to assert its power and influence in its own interest, and as a nation ready and willing to engage in competition--and win--in areas ranging from economics to diplomacy."

But Rosina Bierbaum, a University of Michigan environmental policy scientist, said, "Not including climate change in a document about security threats is putting our head in the sand."

Climate change is "absolutely a security threat," posing risks to U.S. coastal infrastructure, expanding the ranges of pests and pathogens, and fueling more powerful storms and wildfires, she said. Around the world, the changing climate threatens food and drinking water shortages that will boost mass migration and heighten international tension, said Bierbaum, a former associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology during the Clinton administration who helped write the initial congressionally mandated national climate assessment.

Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University, said, "There's a big element of cutting off our nose to spite our face just because the administration doesn't like the words 'climate change.'"

Since taking office, Trump has worked to roll back regulations on planet-warming carbon emissions. He announced his intention to withdraw from what he described as "the very expensive and unfair" Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations, approved the Keystone XL pipeline, and worked to scrap Obama-era initiatives meant to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, among a long list of measures.

Trump has personally expressed skepticism about the reality of climate change, describing it on Twitter as an "expensive hoax" that was "created by and for the Chinese" to hurt U.S. manufacturing.

However, members of the Trump administration, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, have made clear they believe a changing climate should be taken into account by the U.S. military.

Trump himself signed a defense spending bill this month that orders the Pentagon to assess the "vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years."

"Trump is not just ignoring science and public opinion about the dangers of the climate crisis, he's ignoring American generals and the Pentagon about what it takes to keep our military and our country safe," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

But David Titley, a retired rear admiral and the director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State, said he was pleased to see at least some reference to greenhouse gases and pollution in the document, although he said it was unlikely to have much impact on day-to-day actions by the Department of Defense.

"The facts on the ground are the earth is continuing to heat up. The sea level continues to rise. So whether or not this administration talks about climate risk, the DoD is going to have to deal with it," he said.

___

Associated Press writers John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan, and Bradley Klapper, Catherine Lucey, Matthew Lee, Jonathan Lemire, Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

COMMENTS

More Related News

North Korea says it has suspended nuclear, missile testing
North Korea says it has suspended nuclear, missile testing
  • World
  • 2018-04-20 23:45:51Z

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea said Saturday it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests and plans to close its nuclear test site.

Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign for allegedly disrupting 2016 election
Democratic Party sues Russia, Trump campaign for allegedly disrupting 2016 election
  • US
  • 2018-04-20 18:01:08Z

The Democratic Party sued Russia, Republican President Donald Trump's campaign and WikiLeaks on Friday, charging that they conspired to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a court filing showed. The party alleges in the federal lawsuit in Manhattan that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and tilt the election to Trump by hacking Democratic Party computers.

In Comey memos, Trump talks of jailed journalists,
In Comey memos, Trump talks of jailed journalists, 'hookers'

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a series of startlingly candid conversations, President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of jailing journalists and described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian prostitutes

Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn
Comey memo: Trump complained about Flynn's 'judgment issues'

President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment of his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Trump's chief of staff asked days later if Flynn's communications were being monitored under a secret surveillance warrant, according

Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal Free to Tell Her Trump Story After Settling Lawsuit With American Media
Ex-Playboy Model Karen McDougal Free to Tell Her Trump Story After Settling Lawsuit With American Media

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal has been freed up to tell her story about an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump, after settling a lawsuit with publisher American Media, McDougal said in a statement provided to TheWrap on Wednesday. "I am pleased to have reached a settlement with AMI on my own terms, which restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago," McDougal said. McDougal's attorney, Peter Stris, said in his own statement, "We are glad that AMI has agreed to a settlement that restores Karen's life rights to her, and makes right the wrongs that had been perpetrated against her.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Europe

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.