House lawmakers are charging President Trump with discrediting “those who deal in scientific fact” by omitting climate change from his recently released national security strategy.
A group of 106 members, mostly Democrats, sent the critique in a letter to the president on Thursday. They told Trump that House testimony by scientists, the military, and other experts points to changing climate as a grave threat to U.S. national security.
“As global temperatures become more volatile, sea levels rise and landscapes change, our military installations and our communities are increasingly at risk of devastation. It is imperative that the U.S. address this growing geopolitical threat,” wrote the group, which was led by Reps. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who head up the House Armed Services emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee.
Trump abandoned the previous administration’s focus on climate change in his security strategy unveiled in December, choosing instead to talk about the U.S. business climate.
But just days earlier, the president had signed the annual National Defense Authorization Act that was written by a Republican-controlled Congress and identifies climate change as a “direct threat” to national security.
The NDAA quotes Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said “I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.”
Langevin sponsored the language in the NDAA, which survived through the long process of finalizing the bill and was seen as evidence that Congress may be more open to seeing changing climate as a security issue.
“Failing to recognize this threat in your national security strategy represents a significant step backwards on this issue and discredits those who deal in scientific fact,” the House members wrote.
The military has been weighing climate change as a security factor for at least a decade. The most visible example of its concerns might be the Arctic region, where melting sea ice is causing competition with Russia and other nations for territory and resources.