President Donald Trump is preparing to establish a panel to examine whether climate change affects national security, despite existing reports from his own government showing that global warming is a growing threat.
According to a White House memo dated 14 February, Mr Trump’s staff members have drafted an executive order to create a 12-member committee, which will include a White House adviser, William Happer, whose views are at odds with the established scientific consensus that carbon dioxide pollution is dangerous for the planet.
The memo casts doubt on multiple scientific and defence reports concluding climate change poses a significant threat to national security, saying they “have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.”
The effort to establish the panel appears to be the latest step by the Trump administration to question the science of climate change, as Mr Trump rolls back Obama-era regulations on planet-warming pollution.
Critics of the effort to create the new panel pointed to the inclusion of Mr Happer, a Princeton physicist who serves on the National Security Council.
Mr Happer has gained notoriety in the scientific community for his statements that carbon dioxide is beneficial to humanity. The memo did not name other officials to be appointed to the panel.
Scientists defended the research already conducted by the government. “The link between climate science and national security has been closely studied for over a decade at the highest levels of the US government – by scientists, the Defence Department and intelligence agencies – and all those studies have made a strong case that various aspects of climate change have an effect on national security,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton.
In 2015, Mr Happer was called to testify before a Senate committee after environmental group Greenpeace revealed he had agreed to write a scientific paper at the request of representatives of an unnamed oil company in the Middle East, who were actually Greenpeace employees conducting a sting operation.
In his email exchanges with Greenpeace, Mr Happer wrote: “More CO2 will benefit the world. The only way to limit CO2 would be to stop using fossil fuels, which I think would be a profoundly immoral and irrational policy.”
The New York Times