Right-wing media disregards experts on national security threat of global warming

››› ››› FAE JENCKS

The right-wing media have mocked Sen. Barbara Boxer's comments about the threat of global warming to national security. However, national security experts -- including those in the Bush administration -- have highlighted the "significant geopolitical consequences" of climate change.

Boxer cites "national security experts" in highlighting national security threat of global warming

In a June 10 floor statement, Boxer stated:

I'm going to put in the record, Madam President, a host of quotes from our national security experts who tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be over the next 20 years the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way. And that's why we have so many returning veterans who want us to move forward and address this issue, so we can create those new technologies that get us off this foreign oil.

Right-wing media: Boxer's statements about the effects of climate change on national security are unfounded

Beck mocked Boxer's claim that veterans "want us to move forward and address this issue" as "completely out of touch." On the June 11 edition of Glenn Beck's radio show, co-host Pat Gray accused Boxer of "throwing out some baseless generalities," and Beck himself suggested that Boxer's comments were evidence that she is "completely out of touch." From the exchange:

BECK: I've got to play Barbara Boxer because just when you think these people are completely out of touch, then you hear Barbara Boxer and then you are like, you know what?

GRAY: Yeah.

BECK: They got it going on. Here's Barbara Boxer.

BOXER (audio clip) A host of quotes from our national security experts who tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be, over the next 20 years, the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way and that's why we have so many returning veterans who want us to move forward and address this issue.

GRAY: I love that because there's no facts there, there's no figures, there's no stats. She's just throwing out some baseless generalities, you know, that all the troops that are returning really want us to take care of this problem because they know more than terrorism, more than threats from other nations --

BECK: Global warming.

GRAY: It's carbon. Carbon is their main enemy that they fear.

Doug Powers: Boxer's comments are "'blame America first' at its most twisted." In a June 11 post to Michelle Malkin's blog, columnist and blogger Doug Powers claimed that Boxer was attempting to "inextricably link" climate change and terrorism and "assign the blame to your SUV." From michellemalkin.com:

"Al Gore is on record as calling "climate change" a greater threat to humanity than terrorism or rogue dictators with nukes, and Barbara "Ma'am" Boxer has followed suit by saying that "carbon pollution, leading to climate change, will be, over the next 20 years, the leading cause of conflict."

[...]

If by "conflict" she means harsh opposition to the continued takeover of the U.S. from within under the guise of saving the world from a fiery death, then I suppose she's correct -- but that's not what she means.

Boxer is saying, "Unless you want a lot of wars, support our EPA power grab!"

The real intent of course isn't to rank climate change as being a greater threat than terrorism, but to inextricably link them as one problem and assign the blame to your SUV and dependency on the coal energy that is giving Ashley Judd the trots. It's "blame America first" at its most twisted. "They won't attack if you hand us billions more for clean energy and green jobs!"

Maybe Barbara Boxer believes that Al Qaeda flew planes into the World Trade Centers because they were getting too warm, but I'm certainly skeptical."

Fox Nation highlights blogger claim: "I'm making myself a huge tub of baked beans, watch out Babs, I'm your worst nightmare!" Fox Nation posted video of Boxer's statements on the floor of the Senate, claiming that she deemed "CO2" our "greatest national security threat." Along with the video, Fox Nation included a caption originally from the blog Weasel Zippers that stated, "I'm making myself a huge tub of baked beans, watch out Babs, I'm your worst nightmare!"

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard characterized Boxer's remarks as "Saturday Night Funnies." In a June 12 NewsBusters post, Sheppard ran the headline: "Saturday Night Funnies: Boxer Says CO2 Leading Cause of Conflict Next 20 Years." He asserted that Boxer "claimed that carbon dioxide -- that naturally occurring gas integral to life on this planet! - 'will be over the next 20 years the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way.'"

HotAir's Morrissey: "[W]hat keeps Barbara Boxer awake at night? A raging case of the vapors." In a June 10 post, HotAir's Ed Morrissey listed several current national security issues, then commented, "And what keeps Barbara Boxer awake at night? A raging case of the vapors." He then embedded video of Boxer's statement. Morrissey added: "This hyperbole comes from a desperate attempt to get her colleagues to push her cap-and-tax bill forward in the Senate, and the ridiculous claim that CO2 will somehow outweigh a nuclear Iranian mullahcracy and a global Islamist network for national-security concerns shows just how desperate Boxer has become."

National security experts: Global warming a "grave challenge" to national security interests

Chairman of Bush's National Intelligence Council highlighted global warming's "potential to seriously affect US national security interests." In June 25, 2008, testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Dr. Thomas Fingar, chairman of President Bush's National Intelligence Council, presented the Council's study titled "National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030." Fingar stated that in 2006, the Council concluded that "time was right to develop a community level product on the national security significance of future climate change." Fingar presented the following "summary of key observations":

We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years. Although the United States will be less affected and is better equipped than most nations to deal with climate change, and may even see a benefit owing to increases in agriculture productivity, infrastructure repair and replacement will be costly. We judge that the most significant impact for the United States will be indirect and result from climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect US national security interests. We assess that climate change alone is unlikely to trigger state failure in any state out to 2030, but the impacts will worsen existing problems--such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions. Climate change could threaten domestic stability in some states, potentially contributing to intra- or, less likely, interstate conflict, particularly over access to increasingly scarce water resources. We judge that economic migrants will perceive additional reasons to migrate because of harsh climates, both within nations and from disadvantaged to richer countries.

The Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) issued a report concluding that climate change "presents significant national security challenges." The 2007 study authored by 11 retired generals and admirals states that "[t]he nature and pace of climate changes being observed today and the consequences projected by the consensus scientific opinion are grave and pose equally grave implications for our national security." The report issued four conclusions: 1) "Projected climate change poses a serious threat to America's national security." 2) "Climate change acts as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world." 3) "Projected climate change will add to tensions even in stable regions of the world." 4) "Climate change, national security, and energy dependence are a related set of global challenges."

Military reportedly began "studying possible future impacts of global warming with new intensity" during the Bush administration. An April 15, 2007, Washington Post article on the CNA study highlighted a "sense of urgency" surrounding the government's interest in the national security effects of climate change. According to generals interviewed by the Post, the urgency "stems from the fact that changing climatic conditions will make it harder for weak nation-states to address their citizens' basic needs." The Post also reported that "several branches of the military are examining how to cope with climate change."

After being "a little bit of a skeptic," Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan told the Post he is "convinced that global warming presents a grave challenge to the country's military preparedness." From the April 15, 2007, article:

"The Army's former chief of staff, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, who is one of the authors, noted he had been "a little bit of a skeptic" when the study group began meeting in September. But, after being briefed by top climate scientists and observing changes in his native New England, Sullivan said he was now convinced that global warming presents a grave challenge to the country's military preparedness.

"The trends are not good, and if I just sat around in my former life as a soldier, if I just waited around for someone to walk in and say, 'This is with a hundred percent certainty,' I'd be waiting forever," he said."

The Department of Defense cited the role of climate change as a potential "accelerant of instability or conflict." The Department of Defense's Quadrennial Defense Review Report, issued in February of 2010, states that "[w]hile climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict." The DoD report also indicated "climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake." Further, the report stated, "climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment."

CIA launched Center on Climate Change and National Security to help coordinate information on what it deems "an important national security topic." In September of 2009, the CIA launched The Center on Climate Change and National Security. According to a September 25, 2009, press release, its charter is to explore "the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources." Director Leon Panetta explained that "[d]ecision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security."

Intelligence analysts reportedly suggest that "[t]he changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades." The New York Times reported on August 8, 2009, that "a growing number of policy makers say that the world's rising temperatures, surging seas and melting glaciers are a direct threat to the national interest." The Times noted that military officials are "studying ways to protect the major naval stations in Norfolk, Va., and San Diego from climate-induced rising seas and severe storms." According to Pentagon official Amanda Dory, there has been "a 'sea change' in the military's thinking about climate change in the past year. "These issues now have to be included and wrestled with" in drafting national security strategy, she said."

State Department official reportedly highlighted department's focus on "security and geopolitical challenges" of global warming. According to the August 8, 2009, Times report, the State Department and Pentagon are "considering the effects of global warming in their long-term planning documents." According to a State Department official, "[t]he sense that climate change poses security and geopolitical challenges is central to the thinking of the State Department and the climate office."

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