Media, Academia Freak After Trump Removed Climate Change As a National Security Threat

Posted: Dec 19, 2017 9:50 AM

President Trump's national security report has been released, and climate change is not on it. That is a departure from not only the Obama administration, but the George W. Bush administration, some media are noting.

Since 2003, the Defense Department has indicated that climate change threatens "disruption and conflict," refugee crises, border tensions and other military conflicts. President Obama saw the threat as more dire, putting climate change in the same conversation as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in his 2015 memo.

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.

Trump, on the other hand, has referred to climate change as an "expensive hoax" concocted by the Chinese. 

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

Her concerns are shared with other academics like Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University. "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,'" he said. described Trump's pivot away from addressing climate change as tantamount to ignoring science.

Trump's strategy also ignores the scientific studies which show that there is growing potential for climate change to undermine U.S. national security, and in fact this may already be occurring, such as in the case of the civil war in Syria. In addition, sea level rise is already increasing flooding woes at military facilities at home and abroad, particularly in the Norfolk, Virginia area, home to the largest naval base in the world.

That doesn't mean his administration has completely left climate change out of the conversation. Trump's report at least "recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship." Just last week, Trump signed a defense bill that recognized climate change as a threat.

Still, it's clear Trump is placing more of an emphasis on America's economic security. Over the summer, he announced he would be pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement because it would be detrimental to American businesses. 

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