Quantcast

Could New White House Climate Panel ‘Shut the National Security Community Up on Climate Change’?

Politics
William Happer, head of proposed White House climate panel, in the lobby of Trump Tower in 2017. Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

The White House is assembling a climate change panel to be headed by a known climate denier who once took money from a coal company to testify at a hearing and who has compared criticism of carbon dioxide to Hitler's demonization of the Jews.

William Happer, a Princeton physicist who has never trained as a climate scientist, joined the Trump administration in September 2018 as senior director for emerging technologies at the National Security Council (NSC).


"The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler," Happer said on CNBC in 2014, as CNN reported. "Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews."

Happer would head a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat, a claim most recently made by a Pentagon report released in January. The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security would be formed by executive order, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and reported Wednesday.

"This is the equivalent of setting up a committee on nuclear-weapons proliferation and having someone lead it who doesn't think nuclear weapons exist," Chief Executive of the Council on Strategic Risks and co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security Francesco Femia told The Washington Post. "It's honestly a blunt-force political tool designed to shut the national security community up on climate change."

The panel represents the latest attempt by the Trump administration to cast doubt on climate risk assessments produced by its own government, like the Pentagon report and volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment released in November 2018. The NSC discussion paper describing the panel obtained by the Washington Post acknowledges these reports only to undermine them.

"[T]hese scientific and national security judgments have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial scientific peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security," it reads.

It is not clear how much support the panel has within the administration, however. No major agency agreed to comment, and the deputies of various agencies have been summoned to discuss the matter Friday.

Happer, who also worked for the Energy Department during the first Bush administration, has never published a peer-reviewed paper on climate science, according to Media Matters. He has served on the board of CO2 Coalition and the George C. Marshall Institute, two groups that question the threat posed by climate change. In March 2018, he admitted to receiving $10,000 to $15,000 from Peabody Coal to testify at a hearing of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission hearing, The Washington Post reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Europe is bracing for a second heat wave in less than a month. TropicalTidbits.com

Europe is gearing up for another extreme heat wave that could set all-time records for several European countries.

Read More Show Less
Modern agricultural greenhouses in the Netherlands use LED lights to support plant growth. GAPS / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Kevin M. Folta

A nighttime arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport flies you over the bright pink glow of vegetable production greenhouses. Growing crops under artificial light is gaining momentum, particularly in regions where produce prices can be high during seasons when sunlight is sparse.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
On Oct. 4, 2017, the Senate EPW Committee held a hearing on Wehrum's nomination. EPA / YouTube screenshot

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) former head of the Office of Air and Radiation who was instrumental in drafting policies that eased climate protection rules and pollution standards is under investigation by a federal watchdog for his dealings with the fossil fuel industry he was supposed to be regulating, according to the New York Times.

Read More Show Less

It's no secret that the Trump administration has championed fossil fuels and scoffed at renewable energy. But the Trump administration is trying to keep something secret: the climate crisis. That's according to a new analysis from the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) who found that more than a quarter of the references to climate change on .gov websites vanished.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

New York is officially the first state in the union to ban cat declawing.

Read More Show Less
People walk in the Shaw neighborhood on July 20 in Washington, DC, where an excessive heat warning was in effect according to the NWS. Alex Wroblewski / Getty Images

By Adrienne Hollis

Climate change is a threat multiplier. This is a fact I know to be true. I also know that our most vulnerable populations, particularly environmental justice communities — people of color and/or low socioeconomic status — are suffering and will continue to suffer first and worst from the adverse effects of climate change. Case in point? Extreme heat.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Anne Danahy, MS, RDN

Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).

Read More Show Less