DOD: Climate Change is an Urgent Threat. GOP Denies

Climate Change, A T-45C Goshawk, Trump, Cruz, Ryan
A T-45C Goshawk takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan. Photo credits: airplane, U.S. Navy; Trump, Cruz, and Ryan, Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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When Donald Trump was asked about climate change in his meeting with the Washington Post this week, he first gave the standard Republican responses. He noted that he is not a “great believer” in man-made climate change and that the weather is constantly changing.

But when asked whether he, as a businessman, would not support taking steps to hedge against such a potential risk, Trump said something truly interesting:

“Well I just think we have much bigger risks. I mean I think we have militarily tremendous risks.”

Why is his answer so interesting? Because, unwittingly, Trump exposed a major flaw in the GOP’s position that climate change either doesn’t exist or is not a big problem anyway.

What Trump seems unaware of is that the military, generally praised by Republicans, has concluded that  climate change is very real indeed and a tremendous risk to American security.

DOD Sees Urgent Threat to National Security


In January, the Department of Defense (DoD) released a directive that outlines the following policy:

The DoD must be able to adapt current and future operations to address the impacts of

climate change in order to maintain an effective and efficient U.S. military. Mission planning and execution must include:

a.  Identification and assessment of the effects of climate change on the DoD mission.

b.  Taking those effects into consideration when developing plans and implementing procedures.

c.  Anticipating and managing any risks that develop as a result of climate change to build resilience.

That is not the first time DoD has indicated that it not only views climate change as real but also treats it as a threat to global stability.

Last July, a Pentagon report said “DoD recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it poses to U.S. interests globally.” The document reiterates that

“climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.”

That report was delivered to the Senate, which includes many climate change deniers, such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

GOP: What, We Worry?


“For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn’t,” the pro-military Republican from Kentucky said in 2014.

It would be easy to dismiss the Pentagon’s recent focus on climate change as politically motivated. After all, the commander-in-chief is a Democrat who agrees with the vast majority of experts that the planet is warming at dangerous levels.

However, the military’s interest in global warming is not a recent development. In fact, it predates the inauguration of Barack Obama.

In 2004, The Guardian unearthed a Pentagon analysis that painted a gloomy picture of the effects of climate change. The document predicted that global warming would eclipse the threat of terrorism.

In analysing the effects of a warming planet, the DoD said: “Disruption and conflict will be endemic… Once again, warfare would define human life.”

Contrast that with the statements of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is currently second behind Trump in the race for the Republican nomination.

“If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming,” Cruz told Time Magazine last year. “The satellite says it ain’t happening.”

He also accused government researchers of “cooking the books” to make the data fit their own beliefs.

To its credit, Time Magazine ended the article with a dose of reality: “Science, however, does not back up Cruz’s position. Geochemist James Lawrence Powell, an adviser to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, reviewed peer-reviewed science journals and found that only two articles rejected climate change during 2013. His sample size: 10,885 articles.”

WhoWhatWhy reached out to the Trump campaign as well as the offices of Sens. McConnell and Cruz and asked them about being at odds with DoD on climate change. At press time, none of them had responded. However, this story will be updated as soon as they comment.

GOP: Slash Funds for Climate Research


Unlike Donald Trump, McConnell and Cruz cannot claim that they are unaware of the Pentagon’s position. After all, Republicans in Congress last year attempted to slash funds for DoD and Central Intelligence Agency climate research. The House Republican budget memos listed the programs under “examples of areas where there should be room to cut waste, eliminate redundancies and end the abuse or misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) views on climate change align with those of most Republicans.

“Climate change occurs no matter what,” Ryan, another pro-military Republican, said in 2014 prior to ascending to the speakership. “The question is, can and should the federal government do something about it? And I would argue the federal government, with all its tax and regulatory schemes, can’t.”

At press time, Ryan’s office had not responded to a request for comment on whether DoD is wrong to make climate change a priority.

GOP: Make Big Oil, Big Coal Happy


While Republicans portray themselves as the staunchest defenders of a strong US military, it appears that their support ends where the interests of some of their biggest donors begin.

Under the previous two administrations, the Pentagon has warned against the effects of climate change, in particular rising sea levels and the resulting consequences of forced migration from coastal areas and a heightened competition for natural resources, including fresh water. But while DoD is siding with the scientific consensus on the issue, Republicans leaders continue to stick with Big Oil and Big Coal.

Related front page panorama photo credit: DoD Directive 4715.21 (Department of Defense)

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14 responses to “DOD: Climate Change is an Urgent Threat. GOP Denies”

  1. Jmo says:

    Realize that popular understanding of climate change science has many similarities to blind faith in religion. Instead of recognizing science as a tool, as a process, as a path that ideally helps us develop our understanding of a matter or progressively move us closer to the whole truth, science is often misunderstood by many as being conclusive, fail proof, the ‘ultimate end’. In reality, science is only as good as the imperfect people that use it. The majority of the general population endorses the idea of anthropogenic climate change. Why? For most it is because it has been generally accepted by the masses, it is the status quo, we are told that it is true, or we are told that “virtually all scientists agree”, etc. This is an appeal to the masses or an appeal to authority, NOT an appeal to the reasoning or evidence that concludes anthropogenic climate change is real. We see the same thing in religion. I even hear people use terms like “he is an unbeliever in climate change”, or “she is a climate change denier or skeptic”. (this doesn’t prove climate change or religion are wrong, just that they have this similarity). People have their minds made up already which completely tramples the spirit of the scientific process – be curious, have an open mind, do not rush to judgment/conclusion, test-test-test-and-test some more. Many like to think that science is a perfect crystal ball with no bias that establishes the ultimate truth. More accurately the ‘Scientific Process’ is impressive for sure, but it is a “process”, it doesn’t suddenly make up its mind and deem any contrary ideas as blasphemy. I am honestly open to the idea that anthropogenic climate change might be completely accurate, however, I am seriously annoyed that in 9/10 cases the justification/reason I am told to believe this is an appeal to the masses and to authority, and no effort is made to prove it based on its own merits.

  2. Franklin Beenz says:

    For those who believe the human being affects the climate, then it should be obvious that the greater the number of humans, the greater the affect on the environment/climate. It wasn’t until 1800 that the planet reached one billion humans. Now we add 1 billion every ten years.

    Going ‘green’ is taking one step forward, while we add 100 million humans/yr is taking 2 or 3 steps backwards.

    Good luck thinking that will not have a catastrophic effect on nature, hence on the life-forms on the planet, most of all, the human being.

    Not until the human being breeds responsibly for himself/herself and taking in view the entire planet/ecosystem, will all the climate conferences and green laws be like pissing into the wind.

    But practically no-one addresses the elephant in the room — overpopulation.

    • Kevin says:

      So what is your solution? 1 child policies? Killing people? There are those of us who feel that there are *already* eugenicists out there who are trying to cull the population. Consider the following:

      1) The amount of wars the US (world’s largest superpower) is involved in. The Iraq war was based on a lie yet nobody was convicted for war crimes and the USG has been pushing very hard for years to go into Syria.
      2) The fact that we’ve had a government takeover of healthcare (a certainty to be a complete disaster).
      3) We have GMO foods probably killing people.
      4) We have vaccines very possibly causing autism.
      5) The government has allowed the Federal Reserve to destroy the economy. (a poor economy leads to many deaths. Check the suicide rate in Greece as an example).

      How about instead of death, we recognize that science changes its opinion on stuff all the time. Plus assuming this stuff is even true, how do we know science won’t come up w/ a way to reverse the effects somehow (e.g. grow a lot more trees). Or instead, maybe the DoD (the world’s largest user of fossil fuels) stops these senseless wars? Where is the push for that?

      Side note – if the readers who comment on WhoWhatWhy articles are representative of WhoWhatWhy readers on the whole, it is very depressing to me. People pushing for socialism and eugenics?!?! These are supposed to be the “more enlightened” people? This country really is in trouble.

    • Jane Dough says:

      The link between autism and vaccines has been broken many times. There is no connection. Also, America has always had a ‘mixed’ system: capitalism AND socialism: police, fire departments, and libraries are ‘socialist’. For the rich (GE/Exxon-mobile/bailouts), we give them billions and most don’t pay taxes, they receive tax credits worth millions/billions. Time for a little socialism for the rest of us.

    • Kevin says:

      First off, I don’t buy your premise about autism and vaccines. Obviously vaccines are big money-makers so it’s very easy to imagine a smear campaign to say “the link is broken!”

      More importantly though, we should want to fix the system rather than want “a little socialism for the rest of us”. How about we claw back the illegally earned money (e.g. from bailouts) and put those who broke the law on trial ? Then we eliminate the IRS and have no taxes for any of us.

      Side note – we don’t need socialism to have a police force, fire dept, libraries, etc. You’ve heard of those “take back the night” type things. Those are not based on government, but rather by people who decided to do it because they thought it was a worthy idea. Those can be expanded to “take back every night”. Same would be true of all other public services.

    • Jane Dough says:

      There is no need for you to believe what I say, but you could actually look at the science, it’s readily available. If vaccines caused autism, how come autism didn’t occur at the same rate in my generation? It started going crazy about the same time as GMOs came on the market. They created GMOs to make plants survive massive doses of their pesticide. Anyway, eat enough herbicide/pesticides in/on your food, and you too could have autistic kids. It’s not the vaccines. IMHO anyway.

    • Kevin says:

      “If vaccines caused autism, how come autism didn’t occur at the same rate in my generation”

      The number of vaccines they’re injecting into kids is a lot higher than it used to be.

      “It started going crazy about the same time as GMOs came on the market”

      I’m very much anti-GMO. And I agree it possibly is contributing to autism (and if not autism then cancer or other stuff).

      Interestingly like we’re told that vaccines don’t cause autism we’re also told that GMO foods don’t cause cancer. Of course anything contradictory is squelched. Robert DeNiro pulled the documentary questioning the safety of vaccines (Vaxxed) from the TriBeCa Film festival despite his own son having autism. Utterly shameful! And big Agra push for laws making it illegal to label food as “non-GMO”.

    • Kevin says:

      Also (in reference to you citing science saying vaccines don’t cause autism), for how many decades did cigarettes “not cause cancer”?

    • Rick Robertson says:

      Either you can help or you can not. It’s up to you. This isn’t forever.

  3. fromaway46 says:

    When is the DOD going to be more specific, put some facts where their propaganda is, and tell the rank and file exactly how this” Identification and assessment of the effects of climate change on the DoD mission” affects them and what they are to do differently? What makes the DOD a respectable authority on this?

    • VicV says:

      Every major institution in the world – states, corporations, you name it – concurs the reality of human-caused climate change. What authority are you looking for? Any who offer comforting delusions?

    • Kevin says:

      How about the thousands of scientists who are skeptical of these findings? How about the talk of legislation to prosecute “climate deniers”? How come the US military is the biggest user of fossil fuels and yet the DOD is the one complaining about climate change? How about the hypocrisy of Obama flying all over the world for vacations? (he always takes a huge entourage).

      Yet I haven’t heard one single word about this on WhoWhatWhy. Zero investigative reporting. Just a complete acceptance of what the establishment says. Again this coming from a place with a tagline of “We don’t cover the news. We uncover the truth”.

      Other than when Russ does his forensic journalism (which is fantastic) this site is mostly not worth reading (though occasionally there is good stuff covered – like the story about the abuse of chickens). I hope people donate more to it (I do) so they can afford to do more investigative journalism.

      But again, I think people need to look more into the other side of climate science.

      Side note – I hope WhoWhatWhy covers stuff about fracking (which I believe is a legit environmental issue), the danger of AI robots, corruption in the financial system and nuclear plant safety.

  4. 0040 says:

    The Pentagon of course views Climate Change as a new profit center as the terrorist trope loses its cachet, and Putin avoids being pinned down in the quagmire the US has created in the mid-east.

  5. ReduceGHGs says:

    Join the efforts in 2016 to get more of the climate change deniers out of the U.S. Congress. Our future generations are at risk.

  6. deltakilomike says:

    Up yours Democrats. That includes Democrat operatives in DoD, in the press, in the IRS, in EPA, in FCC, NOAA, NASA, everywhere the pernicious commies have infiltrated and practice political subversion.

  7. Kevin says:

    Not that I believe in this climate change stuff but how can Klaus Marre not mention that the biggest user of fossil fuels is the US military?! So the DoD saying “something must be done about this” is the *ultimate* in hypocrisy. He also didn’t mention how Obama (who also talks about the danger of climate change) recently admitted that he probably has the world’s largest carbon footprint.

    This article is yet another example of whowhatwhy not living up to its tagline about not covering the news but rather uncover the truth. Where is whoWhatWhy’s investigative reporting on this issue? What about the thousands of scientists who disagree w climate science? What about climate gate? Etc

  8. 0040 says:

    The Clinton wing of the democratic party also denies Climate Change by their actions over the last 8 years , Mrs.Clinton has promised to continue that policy. To paraphrase James Galloway (on the UK duopoly) and apply to the current context, “Two cheeks of the same arse”.