Former ExxonMobil CEO told lawmakers Wednesday he did not see global warming as an “imminent national security threat,” though he thinks humans are contributing to that warming.
“I don’t see it as the imminent national security threat as perhaps others do,” said Tillerson, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of State. Tillerson was responding to a question from Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley.
Several Democrats asked Tillerson about his stance on global warming, including about reports Exxon supposedly tried to cover up climate science. Merkley asked Tillerson if he thought global warming was sparking conflicts, like the Syrian civil war.
“One of the things that’s noted is how the changing climate in the Middle East concentrated Syrian villages into the towns and sparked the civil war that has now produced something like four million and counting refugees having profound impacts on European security, and that would be an example,” Merkley said.
“Is that something you’ve looked at or considered to be real or perhaps misleading? Any thoughts in that regard?” Merkley asked.
“The facts on the ground are indisputable in terms of what’s happening with drought, disease, insect populations, all the things you cite, but the science behind the clear connection is not conclusive,” Tillerson responded, much to Merkley’s dismay.
“And, there are many reports out there that we are unable yet to connect specific events to climate change alone,” Tillerson said.
“What we’re seeing are a lot of scientific reports that will say we can tell you the odds increased, we can’t tell you any specific event was the direct consequence,” Merkley said, citing Hurricane Sandy as an example of global warming-induced weather.
“I think as you indicated, there’s some literature out there that suggests that. There’s other literature that says it’s inconclusive,” Tillerson responded.
“One of the things we– I’m sorry to hear that viewpoint because it’s overwhelmingly– the scales are on one side of this argument,” Merkley said.
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