(Note: The writer is answering the question: “Will President Donald Trump’s new climate change panel give him good advice?”)
WASHINGTON — Donald Trump has ignored every warning about the dire threat that climate change poses to our nation.
Whether alarms have come from top climate scientists, our military, national security leaders, businesses or the millions of grassroots activists demanding action, Trump has buried his head in the sand, ignoring all the evidence.
That’s why every American should look skeptically at the new panel Trump claims will analyze the threat of climate change to our national security.
When you look closely at the climate denier Trump has named to lead this panel, it’s clear that it will be nothing more than a front for continued inaction and ignorance.
After a historically strong hurricane and wildfire season, we’re already witnessing the devastation climate change can cause — and this is just the beginning.
Report after report has detailed the food shortages, droughts and global turmoil to come as climate change gets worse.
The National Climate Assessment found that if we don’t take action, climate disruption poses a major threat to our health, safety and economy.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report shows that we have 12 years to act decisively to prevent the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis.
Furthermore, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released a threat assessment that identified climate disruption as a significant security risk.
As a veteran, our national security is important to me, and that’s why I took him at his word. Yet, Trump turned his back on these warnings and instead relies on denying the fact that the climate is changing.
In theory, if Trump’s newly created panel took the existing science and military analysis into account to advise him on how “a changing climate could affect the security of the United States,” it could be a step in the right direction.
But, in reality, he has enlisted a notable climate denier, William Happer, to lead the committee, which ensures that reality will be ignored by this panel and this administration.
The likelihood of fossil fuel-funded, climate-denying Happer accurately advising Trump on the security threats of climate change are the same as Joe Camel telling you to quit smoking — it’s not going to happen.
Consider Happer’s long record of denying the reality of the climate crisis while taking money from the fossil-fuel industry.
He is a former chair of the board of directors at the Exxon-funded George C. Marshall Institute. He was caught in a sting accepting payment of $250 an hour to produce a pro-fossil fuel report. His CO2 Coalition raked in thousands from coal companies.
With all this corporate-polluter money, it’s no surprise that Happer is parroting their talking points.
In 2015, he told Congress that the world has too little of the carbon pollution that fuels the climate crisis and claimed it is too cold, even as we shatter all-time temperature records.
And that’s just part of Happer’s pattern of denial. He has even gone so far as to say that carbon pollution should be viewed as an asset rather than a pollutant and compared climate science that saves lives to the “demonization of poor Jews under Hitler.”
It doesn’t make sense, but denial of reality never does. Given this, the odds of this panel accurately informing Trump about the many threats of climate disruption are slim to none.
We should instead expect Happer to try to enable Trump to tear down the military and national security agencies’ sound assertions that climate change poses a serious, immediate national security threat.
The science is already clear. Our military leaders have spoken. As historically cataclysmic hurricanes and wildfires occur, we need action, not a sham committee headed by a climate denier acting in the interest of the people who created this crisis in the first place.
Rob Vessels heads the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors Initiative. Readers my write him at the Sierra Club, 50 F St. NW, Floor 8, Washington, D.C. 20001.