Former defense leaders warn White House it’s ‘dangerous’ to downplay climate change

Former defense leaders warn White House it’s ‘dangerous’ to downplay climate change, NPR

A group of 58 former military and national security officials have written to Donald Trump to warn against his plans for a committee to dispute administration climate change assessments, reports NPR. The letters says: “It is dangerous to have national security analysis conform to politics. Our officials’ job is to ensure that we are prepared for current threats and future contingencies. We cannot do that if the scientific studies that inform our threat assessments are undermined.” The government’s official position is that climate change is a threat to national security, NPR says, adding: “The White House appears to be singing a different tune.” The Washington Post also covers the letter, quoting its warning that: “Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security.” The letter writers were organised by the American Security Project and the Center for Climate and Security, according to the Hill. Separately, the Hill reports comments from Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski that climate change is already “directly impacting” her state.

Meanwhile, a new study suggests Trump administration actions to deregulate the economy could raise US emissions by 200m tonnes of CO2 per year by 2025, reports Reuters. This would “hobble global efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change”, Reuters says. Separately, Politico and Reuters report that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote “within weeks” on the proposal from some Democrats for a “green new deal” to tackle climate change. The plan has been “relentlessly attacked by Republican leaders”, Politico adds. Finally, Hillary Clinton, as well as climate campaigner and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, have ruled themselves out of the running for the 2020 presidential election, report the Guardian and CNN. Bloomberg says he will instead be launching a new campaign called “Beyond Carbon”, which he describes as a “grassroots effort to begin moving America as quickly as possible away from oil and gas and toward a 100% clean energy economy”.

Obama warns climate change will make global politics more toxic The world’s inability to effectively tackle the climate change will toxify global politics, says former president Barack Obama, according to the Hill. It quotes Obama saying: “Imagine when you have not a few hundred thousand migrants who are escaping poverty or violence or disease, but you now have millions. Imagine if you start seeing monsoon patterns in the Indian subcontinent changing so that half a billion people can’t grow food and are displaced…Think about what that does to the politics of the world – not just the economics of it, not just the environment.” Obama was speaking at an event in Calgary, Canada, also covered by Global News. He urged Canada to do more to tackle climate change, according to the Globe and Mail, saying there had been “lip service” to upholding the Paris Agreement in the country.

Meanwhile, two of the world’s largest oil and gas companies have “sharply lifted their expectations for production in the Permian Basin, the heartland of the US shale boom”, reports the Financial Times. ExxonMobil and Chevron have revised their projections for the early 2020s, in a move the paper says “demonstrate[s] [their] confidence in the continued growth of the country’s oil and gas production…[and] lay[s] down a marker for Opec, the oil producers’ cartel ”. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters also cover the news.

Physical and optical characteristics of heavily melted ‘rotten’ Arctic sea ice  A research team investigate the properties of “rotten” sea ice in the Arctic. “Rotten” ice can loosely be defined as ice that is “heavily melting”, the authors say, or filled by water, air or a contaminant, which causes it to have a honeycomb-like structure. “If such rotten ice were to become more prevalent in a warmer Arctic with longer melt seasons, this could have implications for the exchange of fluid and heat at the ocean surface,” the authors say.

With little notice nationally, a new petrochemical and plastics manufacturing hub is taking shape. It could stretch for 300 miles of the upper reaches of the Ohio River, from outside Pittsburgh southwest to Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. We know about it because ICN’s James Bruggers traveled the region and filed an important and eye-opening story called “Plastics: The New Coal in Appalachia?” Construction has begun in Monaca, Pennsylvania, on the region’s first ethane cracker plant. Ohio might get one soon, too, and there’s a third plant proposed for West Virginia.  This plastics belt promises to bring jobs and economic growth to a hurting region, but at a steep cost, given the environmental and climate risks involved.
James’ story illuminates the stark choices communities must confront in a warming world, and forces us all to weigh the true cost of new investment in the fossil future.