The vast majority of the world seems to see climate change as one of the most serious threats facing mankind, as evidenced by the fact that every country in the world signed the Paris agreement in an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions and minimize climate change. However, US President Donald Trump is still of the opinion that climate change is a hoax. This opinion originally led Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement and has now manifested itself in the removal of climate change as a national security threat.
For more than two decades, the White House’s National Security Strategy has included climate change as one of the most serious threats to US national security, but it seems that the Trump administration doesn’t see the issue in the same light as previous administrations. Instead, the recently released National Security Strategy focuses on energy security as one of the primary threats.
In discussing the new strategy, President Trump said it was focused on promoting US ‘energy dominance and self sufficiency,’ which would seem to indicate that the government will look to further exploit fossil fuel resources instead of focusing on reducing greenhouse gases. Nonetheless, the report did state that the US remains committed to reducing both traditional pollution and greenhouse gases. Still, this separation of greenhouse gases from ‘traditional pollution’ is thought to be a nod to climate change deniers who insist that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are nothing more than ‘food for plants.’
Although the Obama administration did the most to further the US fight against climate change, the issue first gained attention during George W. Bush’s time at the White House. President Bush himself didn’t believe in the issue, but it was something that the Defense Department has taken seriously for decades. In fact, it seems that the military still views climate change as a serious threat in spite of what President Trump says or does.
While Trump himself may not see climate change as a serious threat, many of his top military advisors do. This includes chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, Defense Security James Mattis and four other former military commanders, all of whom were quoted in the White House’s recent defense bill as saying climate change is a major threat to national security.
In this respect, it seems that not all within the Trump administration share the President’s views on the subject. For instance, the National Defense Authorization Act that Trump signed only a week ago specifically mentions the many environmental threats facing US military installations around the globe. One major example of this is the Air Force’s radar installation located on an atoll in the Marshall Islands, as this $1 billion installation is predicted to be underwater within the next two decades. Considering that this is only one of many installations that are at risk from the effects of climate change, it will be interesting to see if more military leaders begin to break with the President on this all-too-important issue.