Republican lawmakers are demanding the Obama administration back up with evidence a recent executive memoranda requiring federal officials to consider the impact of global warming on national security.
“The Committee has genuine interest in the climate science and information that the Administration claims impacts national security,” reads a letter to National Security Adviser Susan Rice from Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith — chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Smith is referring to a memoranda the White House issued Wednesday demanding the “federal government to fully consider the impacts of climate change in the development and implementation of all national security policies and plans.”
President Barack Obama has argued global warming is a national security concern for years, and now Republicans want the administration to show what sources it uses to issue orders to federal agencies.
“As the Committee with primary jurisdiction over federal government scientific research within the U.S. House of Representatives, it is necessary for us to better understand the science that underpins the studies, climate models, reports, and conclusions that the Administration will use as the basis of its analysis and national security policy development,” Smith wrote.
Obama’s most overt efforts to connect global warming with national security came in 2015 in his State of the Union address; the president told U.S. Coast Guard graduates they would be on the front lines of global warming.
That year, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed global warming played a role in sparking the Syrian civil war and the rise of Islamic State. He stopped short of saying man-made warming caused the conflict.
“It is not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced the worst drought on record,” Kerry said in October 2015.
“Now, I’m not telling you that the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change,” he said, adding global warming, “clearly made a bad situation a lot worse.”
It’s a connection some researchers and media outlets have been promoting for years.
Time magazine reported in November 2015 that, “many academics and national security experts agree that climate change contributes to an uncertain world where terrorism can thrive.”
Time pointed to a 2014 Department of Defense report and a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to bolster such claims.
“The worst drought on record in the Middle Eastern country has created instability for farmers and threatened the food supply,” Time reported. “At the same time, the government has struggled to hold on to power across the country in the face of militant groups and millions of Syrians have fled their homeland.”
Syria has a long history of droughts, and government policies encouraged farmers to grow cotton and other water-intensive cash crops.
“It is not until you dig pretty deep into the technical scientific literature, that you find out that the anthropogenic climate change impact on drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent is extremely minimal and tenuous—so much so that it is debatable as to whether it is detectable at all,” Chip Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels, climate scientists at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote in March.
Drought “conditions which are part and parcel of the region climate and the intensity and frequency of which remain dominated by natural variability, even in this era of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities,” the scientists wrote.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2013 there’s no strong evidence extreme weather is getting more frequent or extreme.
The IPCC said, “there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice.”
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