14 February 2018

US intelligence chiefs break with Trump on climate threat

By Dan Drollette Jr

In their new annual assessment of global threats, US intelligence agencies warned Tuesday that climate change and other environmental trends “are likely to fuel economic and social discontent—and possibly upheaval—through 2018,” reported Inside Climate News.

While there may not be any hints of abrupt and cataclysmic events on the immediate horizon, worrisome climate impacts are already apparent, the agencies said in a joint statement to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing where the Trump administration’s top intelligence chiefs testified. The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community contrasts with the Trump administration's National Defense Strategy and its National Security Strategyin that the latter two do not even mention climate change. The intelligence community, instead, aligned itself with the National Climate Assessment produced by federal scientific agencies, including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Extreme weather events in a warmer world have the potential for greater impacts and can compound with other drivers to raise the risk of humanitarian disasters, conflict, water and food shortages, population migration, labor shortfalls, price shocks and power outages,” the intelligence threat assessment says. “Challenges from urbanization and migration will persist, while the effects of air pollution, inadequate water and climate change on human health and livelihood will become more noticeable.”

(Although to give the flip side of the coin its due, there is a new paper that questions the growing body of evidence that weather fluctuations can prompt wars. But researchers have doubts about the paper’s value, says The Atlantic.)

If nothing else, the Trump Administration’s obliviousness to the threat posed by climate change is consistent: On Monday, the White House unveiled a 53-page proposal for fixing the nation's crumbling roads, bridges and airports that does not include a single mention of the words “climate,” “global warming,” or “resilience.” Instead, it calls for a $1.5-trillion investment in infrastructure that would roll back key environmental protections, speed up the permitting of oil and gas pipelines, and cut Congress out of the process for allowing pipelines to cross national parks. “At its core, the proposal plans to steamroll as many projects to get to ‘yes’ as fast as possible—whether or not there is a robust environmental review,” Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Reuters news service.

And the administration’s infrastructure proposal calls for 80 percent of its cost to be footed by cities and states, and only 20 percent by the feds, in a complete reversal of usual procedure.

Publication Name: 
Inside Climate News