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Event Recap: Climate Change and National Security: Protecting the Integrity of Threat Assessments

Event Recap: Climate Change and National Security: Protecting the Integrity of Threat Assessments

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The American Security Project, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, and the Center for Climate and Security came together to discuss the importance of maintaining the integrity and independence of the objective science of risk assessments, which are critical to the political decision-making process.

The distinguished panel included executive vice president at the American Council for Capital Formation George David Banks, Director of The Center for Climate and Security John Conger, Director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, RADM David Titley, US Navy (Ret.), Research Fellow at The Hoover Institute, Alice Hill and moderated by head of climate at Novartis Business Services Captain James C. Goudreau, US Navy (Ret.).

The panel emphasized how dangerous it is to allow politics to interfere with the integrity of risk assessment findings. Conger stressed that from a Department of Defense perspective, it’s all about the mission. The military is dependent on these reports to strategically plan, prepare, anticipate and budget for the future. Skewing the science due to political reasons jeopardizes the mission and wastes resources.

Banks shared that he is skeptical that the National Security Council’s proposal to challenge the science behind climate change will go through; however, it may evolve into an issue of where climate change ranks as a national security priority.

RADM Titley emphasized that climate change is a continuous risk and therefore should be treated as one. Ranking it amongst other national security threats in order of importance will not sufficiently address the ongoing cascading risks of climate change. Due to the frequency of climate change, the past protocol of budgeting for environmental risks is insufficient, “The past is no longer prologue to the future.” he stated.

Contesting the scientific reports wastes time which is one thing we don’t have when it comes to mitigating climate impacts. “The science has already been decided…it seems to me the focus is whether we should change our energy policy or not…but we also need to look at the floods, the wildfires, the economic destruction, health impacts caused by a warming planet.” Hill stated. Due to the politics involved in this issue, FEMA does not mention climate change in their five-year plan. “There are no easy answers about what to do, but not even looking at the issue…means we are doing nothing and waiting for more climate impacts to injure us.”

This discussion comes after a letter signed by 58 senior military and national security officials was sent to the president encouraging his administration to resist the attempts to restrict the ability for the defense and intelligence communities to assess climate change threats.

Full Video of the Event below: