Despite all the efforts at disinformation, the Trump Administration has let the truth slip out. On four occasions, the Administration has issued or signed warnings about climate change. One is an act of Congress. I’ll begin with the most recent and most significant example.
Last Tuesday, Trump signed the Defense Authorization Act, HR 1810. The Act is a funding statute for the Pentagon. Here’s what section 335 of the new law says about climate change:
“Climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States and is impacting stability in areas of the world both where the United States Armed Forces are operating today, and where strategic implications for future conflict exist.”
In case you’re one of those people whose eyes skip over block quotes, let me emphasis this language: “climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States.”
The statute begins with a whole series of findings in support of this stern warning. For instance, Congress said, “As global temperatures rise, droughts and famines can lead to more failed states, which are breeding grounds of extremist and terrorist organizations.” And there’s also this: “In the Marshall Islands, an Air Force radar installation built in 2015 on Kwajalein Island at a cost of $1.0 billion is projected to be underwater within two decades.”
The bill requires the Defense Department to report within a year “on vulnerabilities to military installations and combatant commander requirements resulting from climate change over the next 20 years.” In addition, the report must disclose “climate-change related effects on the Department, including the increase in the frequency of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and the theater campaign plans, contingency plans, and global posture of the combatant commanders.”
Please note that this provision was not only signed by Trump. It was also passed by a Republican House and Senate. Trump didn’t say a word about it when he signed the bill. Nor does the formal signing statement, although it is full of complaints about other provisions.
Three government reports that tell the truth about climate change have slipped through the Administration’s censorship process. One was NOAA’s Arctic Scorecard, a December 12 report on the impact of climate change. It reports, among other things that:
- In August 2017, sea surface temperatures in the Barents and Chukchi Seas were up to 4° C warmer than average, contributing to a delay in the autumn freeze-up in these regions.
- Arctic tundra is experiencing increased greenness and record permafrost warming and thawing.
- Pervasive changes in the environment are influencing resource management protocols, including those established for fisheries and wildfires.
And most importantly, the scorecard says: “The unprecedented rate and global reach of Arctic change disproportionally affect the people of northern communities, further pressing the need to prepare for and adapt to the new Arctic.”
Another NOAA report was issued just last week. It found evidence of links between climate change and extreme events around the world, such as wildfires in the western United States and extreme rains in China.
The final report made the link with carbon emissions explicit. In November 2017, a multi-agency task force issued a report on climate change that didn’t pull its punches about climate change. As summarized by the NY Times:
“Over the past 115 years global average temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes, the report says. The global, long-term warming trend is unambiguous,’ it says, and there is ‘no convincing alternative explanation’ that anything other than humans — the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, the forests we destroy — are to blame.”
Again, in case you skipped the block quote, the bottom line is this: “no convincing alternative explanation.”
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Pruitt.