Some of the nation’s top officials on national security – including the Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of the FBI and the CIA – testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, and shared fairly sensible observations on many of the United States’ most serious threats. Unfortunately for the White House, those assessments were wholly at odds with practically everything Donald Trump has said on the same subjects.
The list wasn’t short. The top U.S. officials contradicted Trump on ISIS. And North Korea. And Iran. And border security. And Russian election interference. At times yesterday, it seemed the top national security officials and the president were serving in entirely different administrations.
But there was another issue that may have been lost in the shuffle yesterday, which Yahoo News highlighted.
In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned that climate change remains a national security threat.
“Global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond,” Coats said in the U.S. Intelligence Community’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report. “Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security.
Coats added: “Extreme weather events, many worsened by accelerating sea level rise, will particularly affect urban coastal areas in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. Damage to communication, energy, and transportation infrastructure could affect low-lying military bases, inflict economic costs, and cause human displacement and loss of life.”
This comes just two weeks after Trump’s Defense Department issued a related report, noting that climate change is a global security threat.
All of which serves as an important reminder: the president isn’t just ignoring scientists and related policy experts; he’s also ignoring his own administration.
Indeed, just this week, Donald Trump, who once said the climate crisis was a hoax concocted by the Chinese, marveled at cold temperatures throughout the Midwest, convinced that the frigid weather is evidence of … something.
“What the hell is going on with Global Waming?” the American president wrote. “Please come back fast, we need you!”
Yes, he called it global “waming.” Maybe it was a typo, maybe Trump’s sense of humor is indecipherable.
In either case, if the profoundly confused Republican wants to understand what’s “going on” with the ongoing environmental catastrophe, he apparently need only reach out to top officials in his own administration.