Why Trump Is Confused On The Climate’s Security Threat

Why Trump Is Confused On The Climate’s Security Threat

The new US national defense strategy appears to leave President Trump in two minds on the risk from climate’s security threat.

Confused about climate’s security threat? Don’t worry – you’re not the only one. Donald Trump seems to be having great difficulty in knowing what to make of it too.

He’s even explicitly contradicted a senior colleague – and himself. And he’s prompted suggestions from retired military officers that America’s armed forces will continue to prepare for the reality of climate change undeterred.

The Trump administration has dropped climate change from a list of global threats in a new National Security Strategy the president has launched.

Instead, President Trump’s NSS emphasises the need for the US to regain its economic competitiveness in the world, with his “America First” plan focussing on four themes surrounding economic security for the US.

America first

The Associated Press lists them as “protecting the homeland and way of life; promoting American prosperity; demonstrating peace through strength; and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world”.

“Climate change is not identified as a national security threat, but climate and the importance of the environment and environmental stewardship are discussed,” a senior administration official told the London Guardian. Last June the president announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

By contrast, former President Obama said that “climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security. And make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.”

The new doctrine is hard to reconcile with a statement by a man Mr Trump himself appointed to high office, the US Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, who said in March that climate change was affecting stability in parts of the world where American troops were operating, and that it was appropriate for commanders to plan for the instability it would cause.

“We have a responsibility to prepare, and that’s becoming clearer every day”

The US Government Accountability Office said recently that military authorities are neglecting to plan for climate risks. A GAO study team said that of 45 military installations worldwide, only a third had integrated climate change adaptation into their planning.

Dozens of bases were exempted from a department-wide climate vulnerability assessment, including “key national security sites.” The report said the Pentagon omitted a number of facilities without adequate explanation – in some cases it simply stated that there was no risk, but gave no reasons.

But the starkest contrast between the new strategy and the past appears to be the work of Donald Trump himself. On 12 December he signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act. Its provisions include requiring the Pentagon to report on how military installations and overseas staff may be vulnerable to climate change over the next two decades.

To make sure that nobody missed the point, the act stated explicitly: “Climate change is a direct threat to the national security of the United States.” But the president who signed that act now, one week later, thinks climate change is not a security threat worth the name.

Continued preparation

The Center for Climate & Security (CCS) is a US non-partisan policy institute of security and military experts (many of them high-ranking former members of the armed forces). It regards the threats of climate change and nuclear conflict as inseparably joined.

The co-founder and president of the CCS, Francesco Femia, told the Climate News Network: “It’s very unfortunate that climate change is not being explicitly addressed as a national security threat in the National Security Strategy . . .

“However, despite this strategy, which is more of a political document than anything else, I think the broader national security community in the US will continue to prepare for this challenge, as was made clear by the defense bill, and as has been made clear by the Department of Defense.

“We have a responsibility to prepare, and that’s becoming clearer every day.” – Climate News Network

About the Author

Alex Kirby is a British journalistAlex Kirby is a British journalist specializing in environmental issues. He worked in various capacities at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for nearly 20 years and left the BBC in 1998 to work as a freelance journalist. He also provides media skills training to companies, universities and NGOs. He is also currently the environmental correspondent for BBC News Online, and hosted BBC Radio 4's environment series, Costing the Earth. He also writes for The Guardian and Climate News Network. He also writes a regular column for BBC Wildlife magazine.

Related Books

InnerSelf Market

Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

POLITICS

How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out
How Much Do People Care About Climate Change? We Surveyed 80,000 People In 40 Countries To Find Out
by Simge Andı and James Painter
New survey results from 40 countries shows that climate change matters to most people. In the vast majority of…
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Is Devastating Indigenous Lands, With The World Distracted
Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro Is Devastating Indigenous Lands, With The World Distracted
by Brian Garvey, and Mauricio Torres
The Amazon fires of 2019 drove the greatest single year loss of Brazilian forest in a decade. But with the world in the…
How Dystopian Narratives Can Incite Real-world Radicalism
How Dystopian Narratives Can Incite Real-World Radicalism
by Calvert Jones and Celia Paris
Humans are storytelling creatures: the stories we tell have profound implications for how we see our role in the world,…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Violent Weather Rises Spur More Political Conflict
Violent Weather Rises Spur More Political Conflict
by Tim Radford
Violent weather – seasonal storms, floods, fires and droughts – is growing more extreme, more often.
India Finally Takes Climate Crisis Seriously
India Finally Takes Climate Crisis Seriously
by Nivedita Khandekar
With financial losses and a heavy death toll from climate-related disasters constantly rising, India is at last…
Russia Moves To Exploit Arctic Riches
Russia Moves To Exploit Arctic Riches
by Paul Brown
As the polar sea ice vanishes faster, Russia unveils plans to exploit Arctic riches: fossil fuel deposits, minerals and…
Will Billionaire Climate Philanthropists Always Be Part Of The Problem
Will Billionaire Climate Philanthropists Always Be Part Of The Problem
by Heather Alberro
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and the richest man alive, recently made headlines after pledging to donate $10 billion to a new…

LATEST VIDEOS

Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
kelp forrest 7 12
How The Forests Of The World’s Oceans Contribute To Alleviating The Climate Crisis
by Emma Bryce
Researchers are looking to kelp for help storing carbon dioxide far beneath the surface of the sea.
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
Tiny Plankton Drive Processes In The Ocean That Capture Twice As Much Carbon As Scientists Thought
by Ken Buesseler
The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce…
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
Climate Change Threatens Drinking Water Quality Across The Great Lakes
by Gabriel Filippelli and Joseph D. Ortiz
“Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil” is not what anyone wants to hear about their city’s tap water. But the combined effects of…
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate impasse
Talking About Energy Change Could Break The Climate Impasse
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone has energy stories, whether they’re about a relative working on an oil rig, a parent teaching a child to turn…
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
Crops Could Face Double Trouble From Insects And A Warming Climate
by Gregg Howe and Nathan Havko
For millennia, insects and the plants they feed on have been engaged in a co-evolutionary battle: to eat or not be…
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
To Reach Zero Emissions Government Must Address Hurdles Putting People Off Electric Cars
by Swapnesh Masrani
Ambitious targets have been set by the UK and Scottish governments to become net-zero carbon economies by 2050 and 2045…
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across The US, And That's Not Always Good News
by Theresa Crimmins
Across much of the United States, a warming climate has advanced the arrival of spring. This year is no exception.

LATEST ARTICLES

Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
Routine Gas Flaring Is Wasteful, Polluting And Undermeasured
by Gunnar W. Schade
If you’ve driven through an area where companies extract oil and gas from shale formations, you’ve probably seen flames…
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
Flight Shaming: How To Spread The Campaign That Made Swedes Give Up Flying For Good
by Avit K Bhowmik
Europe’s major airlines are likely to see their turnover drop by 50% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,…
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
Will The Climate Warm As Much As Feared By Some?
by Steven Sherwood et al
We know the climate changes as greenhouse gas concentrations rise, but the exact amount of expected warming remains…
How To Make Floating Wind Farms The Future Of Green Electricity
How To Make Floating Wind Farms The Future Of Green Electricity
by Susan Gourvenec
Since 2010, wind energy has seen sustained growth worldwide, with the amount of energy generated by offshore wind…
What If We Took All Farm Animals Off The Land And Planted Crops And Trees Instead?
What If We Took All Farm Animals Off The Land And Planted Crops And Trees Instead?
by Sebastian Leuzinger
I would like to know how much difference we could make to our commitment under the Paris Agreement and our total…
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
Methane Emissions Hit Record Breaking Levels
by Josie Garthwaite
Global emissions of methane have reached the highest levels on record, research shows.
How Banks Are Trying To Capture The Green Transition
How Banks Are Trying To Capture The Green Transition
by Tomaso Ferrand,and Daniel Tischer
Private sector banks in the UK should have a central role in financing climate action and supporting a just transition…
To Build A Better Canada After COVID-19 Launch A Fossil-free Future
To Build A Better World After COVID-19 Launch A Fossil-Free Future
by Kyla Tienhaara et al
Demand for fossil fuels collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdown measures were introduced. In the second…