The memo dated February 14, 2019 reveals that the White House has drafted an Executive Order to create a 12-member committee called the “Presidential Committee on Climate Security.” The memo states that recent scientific and defense reports that conclude that climate change poses a threat to national security “have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.”
The committee will examine the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, a report that found that climate change will adversely impact more Americans, particularly low-income communities, cause significant financial losses, damage infrastructure, and debilitate social systems. The panel would also reexamine a recent report by the Pentagon on the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on low-lying military installations.
White House adviser, Dr. William Happer, who has said that carbon dioxide pollution is not dangerous but beneficial to the planet, will join the panel. Happer is a Princeton physicist who serves on the National Security Council as the President’s Deputy Assistant for emerging technologies. Steven Koonin, a New York University professor and former Undersecretary for Science in the Department of Energy, is a leader in the effort to recruit members for the panel. Koonin and Happer had previously worked with former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to advocate for a “red team, blue team” climate debate at the agency.
Researchers who are being considered for the committee include Judith Curry, a former professor at Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, who has often testified to Congress on climate change and highlighted the uncertainties of climate science; Richard Lindzen, a retired professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has referred to people worried about global warming a “cult”; and John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a member of the EPA's Science Advisory Board.
Federal scientists defended the National Climate Assessment during a recent House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on climate science. Dr. Michael Freilich, Director of NASA's Earth Science Division, and Dr. Neil Jacobs, the new Acting Director of NOAA, defended their agencies' science and peer review process. “On the time scale of the next couple of centuries, what we do in terms of putting fossil fuel carbon into the atmosphere and removing and constraining carbon levels in the atmosphere will be the most important thing for defining our climate,” said Dr. Freilich.
Fourteen Democratic Senators led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) have sent a letter to President Trump. “Allowing a fossil fuel industry-funded climate change denier and other climate skeptics to conduct an 'adversarial peer review' of recent climate science will create an environment of inaction that needlessly threatens our national security,” warned the lawmakers.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has announced that Democratic lawmakers in the Senate are planning to introduce a climate change joint resolution endorsed by all 47 members to counter the efforts by the Republican party to divide them over the ‘Green New Deal’— a non-binding resolution to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within 10 years. The measure was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). The concept has been endorsed by several Presidential candidates, including Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Some Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have expressed reservations about it, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that he would bring the measure to a vote in the Senate.
The joint resolution from Democrats would acknowledge three things — that climate change is real, that it is caused by human emissions, and that Congress needs “to take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change.” Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said, “Democrats may not agree on how to solve climate change, but we agree on three things.” Senator Schatz noted that Republican opposition to the ‘Green New Deal’ might be “good news for the climate debate because we're now in a back-and-forth with the Republicans over climate policy.” Senator Schumer said, “One of the great but positive ironies of Leader McConnell's stunt to put the ‘Green New Deal’ on the floor is that it's inspired members of both parties to talk about climate change more than ever before under the Republican leadership of the Senate.”